Spellling Reforms

SagaSon   Friday, June 13, 2003, 05:24 GMT
Why spelling reforms are rejected??? why the heck people need to have difficulty trying to decipher pronunciation of words. I think I'd rather learn English again with a harder grammar but with a consistant pronunciation system.
I think that there are ways to make English a (more) phonetic language without destroying the pronunciation system (like Portuguese language, Portuguese language spelling reforms have totally destroyed Portuguese pronunciation system keeping it without the A in Bat for example).
The same way I want a spelling reform on English, I get frustrated by the fact that Portuguese language had several spelling reforms and have become one of the most phonetical languages ever, and if it weren't for the spelling reforms, my native tongue could have a complex pronunciation, as hard as English one, or maybe even harder, and I could have the pride to know and learn a non-phonetical language as my native tongue.
Nowadays I feel ashamed of my native tongue and jealous about others. Hope there can be a spelling reform on Portuguese that can make it a non-phonetical language.
Jim   Friday, June 13, 2003, 07:37 GMT
So, Portuguese uses phonetic spelling and English doesn't. If I understand you correctly, what you want is for it to be the other way around.

You're ashamed of your native toungue and you want its spelling to be reformed to make it non-phonetic. That's a very interesting wish. What about using Chinese characters?

However, whilst you point out how spelling reform has "totally destroyed Portuguese pronunciation system" you seem to want this to be done to English. Do you want our pronunciation system to be wrecked too?

I think there would be advantages and disadvantages to reforming the spelling of English. But I suppose one of the biggest obsticles in the way of reform is the huge variety of dialects. I don't know any good way to get around this.

I'm not convinced that a proper and fair phonetic system of spelling could be come up with for English. I don't know that it would be necessary or even a good idea. However, I do find the possibility interesting. What kind of spelling reform would you recomend for English?
Antonio   Friday, June 13, 2003, 11:58 GMT

Fala meu amigo! Se eu entendi bem, sua lingua nativa é o Português, não é?

See, the spelling reforms didn´t destroy Portuguese, because it is complex by nature. Originally, Portuguese is 80% Latin, and Latin is probably the most phonetic language in the European branch. (okay, maybe a couple of languages may be as phonetic as it). For instance: the word house = casa, pronounced /kaza/, but in Latin it was pronounced /kasa/; and that´s why we kept the spelling ´casa´ ( lexicon origin - pride ). In this very example, you can easily hear the ´A´ sound you said we don´t have anymore. I didn´t catch that... where is the loss of the sound you mentioned?

Portuguese is very phonetic, although it has many non-phonetic characteristics, like as mentioned, ´s´ sounding like ´z´, ç, x ( with 4 sounds, but we have 6 in English :), lh, c ( changing between k and s ), etc...
The intended loss of the diaeresis ( ´¨´) is something I disagree with, but many people say it simple makes no difference ( so tranqüilo -> tranquilo = tranquil ). Anyway, we hardly sound that nowadays...

Plus, like English, Portuguese has dialects, and people in Portugal speak somewhat different from those in Brasil, or those in Angola. Even the graphical marks take different syllabi and forms: electronic -> eletrônico (Brasil), electrónico (Portugal).
tulip   Friday, June 13, 2003, 13:28 GMT
For mechanical reasons, the Elizabethans printed
-lesse, -nesse, or -les, -nes, manie or many; and so on. Readers were accustomed to see the same word spelt in different ways on one and the same page of a book and, when they came to write themselves, they did very much as they pleased within the borderlines of intelligibility.This is brought home to us when we read the still extant private letters of Sir Ralph Verney of Claydon in Buckinghamshire or the Reverend Dr Isaac of Durham.
Milton himself spelt his pronouns variably, mee and me, yee and ye, shee and she, in order to express degrees of emphasis.
Many spelling anomalies, like aisle, blood, bread, wound; have, live, prove; done, one, none; do, two, who; come, some; any and many can be traced back to the first half of 17th century.
sam   Friday, June 13, 2003, 13:48 GMT
English spelling is a pain in the neck.
chantal   Friday, June 13, 2003, 13:57 GMT
Look at some homophones.
Two spellings, two meanings and one pronuciation.

Pane / pain
daze / days
hymn / him
prey / pray
pail / pale
whine / wine
holy / wholly
brood / brewed
shilly shally   Friday, June 13, 2003, 14:08 GMT
English spelling is even more unphonetic than French and yet it has manifest advantages.
First, the consonants are fairly unambiguous : in general they do faithfully record the sounds.
Secondly, by great good fortune English spelling has escaped those tiresome diacritical marks placed above, beneath, before or after the letter, or inserted within it, which in a greater or less degree disfigure French, German, Italian, Spanish, Czech, Polish, Norwegian, Danish, Swidish, and even modern Turkish.
Thirdly, English spelling conserves the rich and far-reaching international characteristics of our speech so that men of many nations are immediately aware of the meanings of thousands of words which would be unrecognizable if written phonetically.
Tabisora   Friday, June 13, 2003, 15:28 GMT
Loads of English words have been taken from other languages while keeping the original spelling, that's why it's become even weirder.
If I weren't french, I would have trouble reading some words such as "en route" or "soi-disant".
Though, after all, I reckon the pure English words must be the weirdest.
Here's the proof.

A Dreadful Language

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, tough and through;
Well done! And how you wish perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead; it's said like bed, not bead
For goodness sake don't call it "deed".
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt)
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there's dose and rose and lose
Just look them up and goose and choose,
And cork and work and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart.
Come, come I've hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Man alive
I mastered it when I was five.

By an author who seems to be unknown
Fisher   Friday, June 13, 2003, 17:01 GMT
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English
will be the official language of the European Union rather than German,
which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's
Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and
has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would be known as "Euro- English".

In the first year, 's' will replace the soft 'c'. Sertainly,this will make
the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard 'c' will be dropped in favor of
the 'k'. This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have one less

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the
troublesome 'ph' will be replased with the 'f'. This will make words
like 'fotograf' 20% shorter!

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expected to
reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments
will enkorage the removal of double leters which have always ben a deterent
to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent 'e'
in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing 'th'
with 'z' and 'w' wiz 'v'. During ze fifz year ze unesesary 'o' kan be dropd
from vords kontaining 'ou' and similar changes vud of kurs be aplid to ozer
kombinations of leters. After ze fifz yer ve vil hav a rali sensibl ritn
styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evriun vil find it ezi tu
undrstand ech ozer.

Zen Z Drem Vil Finali Kum Tru!!

To Fisher   Friday, June 13, 2003, 17:15 GMT
This joke has been told a thousand times. So please spare us from hearing it one more time.
Fisher   Friday, June 13, 2003, 17:20 GMT
I've just seen this for the first time. Sorry
Tremmert   Friday, June 13, 2003, 17:25 GMT
I think that's reading 'rather' than 'hearing'.

There aren't really many 'pure' English words, since English evolved from a Germanic background and gobbled huge amounts of French and Latin vocabulary as it went along.

As far as European languages go I think Yiddish is purely phonetic but if so that would be because of its using the Hebrew alphabet, the one part that isn't European ;)
Kabam   Friday, June 13, 2003, 20:06 GMT
I wouldn't find English that beautiful if it was reformed but, hell, Tabisora, the poem you're quoting is really weird. It's also fun though.
chantal   Friday, June 13, 2003, 20:53 GMT
Great poetry about English spelling !
and it's true !
tulip   Friday, June 13, 2003, 21:35 GMT
The men who revised the French Academy Dictionary for its third edition in 1762 changed the forms of some five thousand words or one quarter of the whole French vocabulary. Samuel Johnson did his best to abolish inconsistencies in English, but his attitude towards traditional spellings was one of conservatism and piety. 'I have attempted few alternations', he said, 'and among these few perhaps the greater part is from the modern to the ancient practice'. His dictionary was not entirely free from inconsistencies :
moveable but immovable
downhil but uphil
distil but isntill
install but reinstal
sliness but slyly
conceit and deceit but receipt
deign but disdain
anterior and interior but exterior and posterior