Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: USAGE: No rants! (USAGE: di"f"thong)

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Monday, May 29, 2006, 18:55
Henrik Theiling wrote:

> Here's a poll: > > ---------------------------------------------------------------------- > > 1) Do you think English spelling should be reformed? > > [x] No, it should not be reformed > [ ] Yes, it should be reformed, but only slightly > [x] Yes, and we need a whole now spelling > [ ] I don't care
I read standard English very quickly, and anything out of the ordinary slows me down. On the other hand, English spelling is a real mess. Even after you've learned all the words in the everyday vocabulary, you've got to deal with place names and personal names, and many of those are irregular.
> 2a) Do you think English spelling is phonemic? > [x] No > > 2b) Do you think English spelling is phonetic? > [x] No > > 3a) Do you think English spelling should be phonemic? > [x] Yes
Up to a point. Korean spelling is a good example of a system that isn't exactly phonemic but works well for the language. Something like that might work for some variety of English. But distinguishing between homonyms like "read" vs. "reed" (or past tense "read" vs. "red") is also desirable, even though the distinction isn't phonemic (as far as I know in dialects that I'm familiar with).
> 3b) Do you think English spelling should be phonetic? > [x] No
On the one hand, it would be nice to be able to show that the /k/ in "Wisconsin" is unaspirated (which might not be apparent from the spelling). But phonetic spelling really isn't a good choice for a writing system for any language, especially one with as many variations as English.
> 4) Which spelling would you prefer for current 'laugh'? > [x] laf
Or läf, or læf, but preferably something not using the Latin alphabet.
> 5) Who is the most important group of people you think of when > proposing/rejecting a spelling reform?
Martian colonists. :-)
> 6) How should one cope with different dialects?
Chinese characters? I think a variation in spelling according to dialect would be reasonable; we already have variations like tire vs. tyre, color vs. colour, aluminum vs. aluminium etc. Läf vs. lâf (or whatever) would be no different. On the other hand, it wóuld be nice to preserve distinctions that exist in some dialects but not others, like "which" vs. "witch", "talk" vs. "torque", "cot" vs. "caught", "Mary" vs. "marry" vs. "merry", etc. So the spelling wouldn't be perfectly phonemic for anyone.
> 7) Have you thought about or (tried to) invent(ed) a spelling reform > yourself? > > [x] Yes > [ ] No
I've considered a couple of different methods, including the Latin alphabet with lots of diacritics, a new alphabet, or marks like furigana on top of the existing letters. I think a whole new alphabet may be the best option; the Shaw alphabet is a good attempt, but the letters look too much alike. Something more like the Deseret alphabet would be better.
> 8) Which other lang do think needs a spelling reform? > > [ ] Chinese > [ ] Danish > [ ] Faeroese > [ ] French > [ ] German > [ ] Japanese
I like the idea of using Cyrillic letters to write Irish. I don't know anything about Faeroese spelling. Danish, French, and German seem more or less reasonable once you learn the rules. French has lots of silent letters, but at least they're more or less consistent about it, unlike English. There are minor issues, but nothing as serious as the problems with English spelling. Chinese and Japanese already have reasonably good romanizations, but they have a lot of homonyms, so it makes sense for them to continue using Chinese characters. It makes it a lot harder than it needs to be for learners, though.