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

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Date:Thursday, June 1, 2006, 13:13
R A Brown skrev:
> Aw - I disappear for a few days to south Wales and return to find 164 > emails waiting. I eagerly download them, hoping to read lots of stuff > about conlanging & find they're mostly - {stifles big yawn}- about > English spelling reform!
I guess I'm partly to blame. IIRC it was I was among those who explicitly brought up the subject of spelling reform.
> I don't know how many times this has cropped up on the list (quite a few > times IIRC). In my teens way back in the 50s I used to churn out English > spelling reforms with almost the same frequency as I did auxlangs (some > two or three a year).
Nothing wrong with that, as long as you don't try to *impose* your ideas on others. Full well knowing that there will never be any agreement I approach spelling reform as I approach conlanging generally: as an intellectual and artistic exercise -- definitely not as politics. (I do get political, however, on the subject of all different pronunciations (and other aspects of dialects) being equally valid. I'm not going to apologize for opposing linguistic oppression!)
> Proposals for English spelling reforms exist from > at least the 19th century. The market for English spelling reforms is, > like that for auxlangs, one where supply vastly outnumbers demand.
Actually Orrm was at it in the 12th century (Google for "Ormulum"), and there was a flare-up in the 16th century, with Sir John Cheke and others actually having some success -- although mostly their 'reform' consisted in introducing new silent letters for supposedly lost Latin sounds in words like _island_ and _debt_ they also introduced means to distinguish close and open mid long vowels, but then the Great Vowel Shift came along and ruined the language! ;)
> Whatever we think here, or however we vote, it ain't going to happen.
What is going to happen? That anyone is going to force everybody to spell the way s/he has thought out? No it ain't, but then conversely why force anyone to slavishly follow tradition? The point you made about _diphthong_ being pronounced variously as /fT/, /ft/ and /pT/ by different speakers, and so _phth_ may function as a compromise spelling is in principle valid (but we all know that that's not why it is so spelled -- traditionalism and archaizing spelling works as a compromise between different pronunciations only because it is based on a form of the language as it was before many of those differences in pronunciation arose. Certainly other equally or more effective ways of compromise might be devised, and I can't see why they mightn't as an intellectual exercise!) By the same token Americans ought to back down from spelling _draft_ for both the words which Brits spell _draught_ but pronounce differently. It's just that these spellings have become traditional on either side of the pond, so some people will figuratively fight to their death over them. Several people mentioned that untraditional spellings are a stumbling block to fluent reading, which may in a way be true, but it's only a matter of ingrained habit *and* prejudice. In Old and Middle English times differerent scribes spelled slightly differently -- even vastly different in some times and places --, but since the variation was still within certain limits (essentially variations within a single system) and since -- and this is very important -- people were probably not making value judgments about the differences in pronunciation which these differences in spelling reflected people could still read each other's writings reasonably fluently. If they couldn't the different spelling variations would certainly have drifted apart to a greater extent than they actually did -- at least in Old English times; in Middle English times mutual intelligibility between dialects and spellings were probably quite impaired sometimes! In the Modern age 'correctness' in spelling and grammar has strangely become a powerful tool of social and cultural oppression -- strangely because the same age has seen the most advances ever in terms of political and personal freedom. You have to express your freedom in the right spelling and grammar for other people to take it seriously, it seems. It wouldn't actually impair any other Swedes' understanding of what I write if I introduced a number of new letters and/or used some of the old ones slightly differently from them -- it's the prejudice that everybody ought to spell identically that is the real stumbling block. I'm sure speakers of other languages can come up with examples from their language, e.g. in English, does it really impair your reding if the text you read inserts or omits a _u_ in _colo(u)r_? Probably not! It is strange how people on this list, who usually defend diverseness and aestheticism, as opposed to the normativism and uniformising of auxlangers, become such normativists and traditionalists when it comes to natlang spelling and pronunciation!
> > Of course the subject has spewed the inevitable YAEPT :=(
Again if spelling wasn't so rigid maybe people wouldn't be so unaware and surprised about how speech differs! IMNSHO what makes these YAEPTs so annoying is that people don't just take an interest in how speech differs, but there is somehow a more or less unexpressed assumption that this is strange, undesirable and/or problematic! why are you all conlanging if linguistic diversity is strange, undesirable and/or problematic?
> > What difference does it actually make to a phonemic spelling reform > whether one says [k_hjEt], [k_h&t], [k_h&?], [k_hatT_d] or any of the > other varieties of /k&t/. Obviously it ought to be spelled/spelt M-O-G ;)
The only thing I can say in my defence is that *my* ideas for spelling reform do take acount of the fact that phonemes are realized and distributed variously. I hope I am on record as an opponent of the idea that any person's lect of any language is more correct than anybody elses!
> Tho I am not a fan of E-o spelling, I think it is, however, > up to the Esperanto community how they spell their language, > just as it is up to Marc Okrand & the Klingon community how > they spell their language, etc.
Líkwís it åt tu bé yp tu eniwyn hú tu spel þár langweʒ, at lést prívatli. Tu mé it'z ʒyst an ésþetik gám! I dó hóp wé kan agré tu disagré... -- /BP 8^)> -- Benct Philip Jonsson -- melroch at melroch dot se "Maybe" is a strange word. When mum or dad says it it means "yes", but when my big brothers say it it means "no"! (Philip Jonsson jr, age 7)


Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Peter Bleackley <peter.bleackley@...>
Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
R A Brown <ray@...>