Simon   Tuesday, November 18, 2003, 13:07 GMT
Well I didn't really mean boring but the non-phonetic quality of English affects the relationship of words etc.

I could make the pun "Wry Bread" in English as it stands. In a purely phonetic language that would not be possible.
Jim   Friday, November 21, 2003, 02:07 GMT
Definitely there is something to be said for keeping English spelling with all its flaws as it is. Actually I'd rather have English spelling left as it is too. It makes things interesting to have all these relics of the past still lingering in our system of spelling, even if they come from mistaken ideas.

We definitely do develop patterns in our perception of writing. Just as our perception of patterns in writing develops. This development is different in each person and is influenced by his or her dialect and accent.

I agree with Clark about the letter "a" serving to represent both the "a" sounds in "cat" and "father", for me it's the same. It's interesting that there are many words in which which vowel the "a" represents depends on your accent, for example "last", "fast", "plant", "stand", "command", etc.

This difference in how the letter "a" is pronounced in different accents is an example of how making spelling phonemic or phonetic would cause further division in English: I might spell it "laast" you might spell it "last". Take Clark's example "wat did yor fathir doo last nIt?", in my system it would come out as "Whot did yor faadher du laast niet?"

In my perception an "a" after a "w", "wh" or "qu" is usually pronounced as if it were an "o". Here are some examples "watch", "was", "wander", "war", "what", "quart", "quark" & "squash". I pronounce these as /wotS/, /woz/, /wond../, /wo:/, /wot/, /kwo:t/ & /skwoS/. If I were to respell them phonetically they'd become "woch", "woz", "wonder", "wor", "whot", "quort", "quork" & "squosh"

There is an obvious exception to this: when "a" doesn't stand alone but is part of a grapheme (except "ar") then it is unaffected, e.g. "way", "wait", "square", "squaw". Then there is also exceptions like "quack" and "quay" that just don't fit.

If spelling were to be reformed I'd definitely go with Clark's solution "to take each word individually/out-of-context, and to describe it like that." One of these systems that Richard has mentioned respells "the" differently depending on whether the following words begins with a vowel or not. Before a vowel it would be "thee", before a consonant it would be "thu". I'm not in favour of this.

We need not change the spelling of words as we put them in sentences, this only makes things unnecessarily difficult. Suppose we respell "have" as "hav", we should stick to it. I'd respell the sentence "I have to go." as "I hav tu go." inspite of the fact that when spoken it sounds like "I haf tu go." (or even "I hav du go.")
Juan   Friday, November 21, 2003, 02:37 GMT
I brought up the subject of the "ae" and "aa" vowel in AmE and ComE along time ago. Good of you to notice, but that's only one aspect of the different pronounciation in English dialects that would cause head-aches. Like I said before, a spelling reform is highly unlikely.
Juan   Friday, November 21, 2003, 02:54 GMT
It still amazes me how you all native English speakers understand each other, maybe in a few hundred years (if civilasation exists) you won't.
Jim   Friday, November 21, 2003, 03:32 GMT
I agree whole-sale spelling reform of the kind we see with Fanetiks is highly unlikely but a more subtle form is going on all the time.

I think that in a few hundred years there will be even less that divides the various dialects of English.
Clark   Friday, November 21, 2003, 07:20 GMT
I agree Jim. However, I would imagine that there will be off-shoots of English in more places, but everyone will understand "standard English" whatever that may be. To give an example of what I just said, a country some place in the world might start to become saturated with English. So the local people might start to use English words, and in several generation's time, there might be an off-shoot of English. And then this could happen all over the world. And it has already started in some places like Germany and France ("Ich mag mein 'Job' " and "La 'budget' de la France est splendide !").

Back to phonetics, Jim, just to make sure, that "system" that I used was not something I contrived. When I wrote that sentence, I simply wrote it how I saw it when the sounds came to my head. I mean, when I said "do" the first thing that I wrote down (I did not even really think bout it) was "oo" as in food. And then I must admit that "I" was something that was morethought out. Well, I don't know. It is hard to say how to write the sound down. "Ai" is the only other way using English-type phonetics that comes to my head first. But then if I were writing a letter and was not very educated, but had some education, I suppose that I would moake that long "i" sound by putting an "i" in front of a single consonant followed by an "e." For example, "nite," "bite," "fite" or "rite."
Clark   Friday, November 21, 2003, 07:27 GMT
I seem too hav made sum mistakes in mai last post. And I still cannot figyur owt how too make that "I" sownd beekuz written wurds like "mI" or "bIk" just luk so funnee too mee. I theenk that they ar bettir when written as a half-way inbeetween standard English and this nu English way uv wraiteeng.

Wat lettirs cum too anneewon's maind first wen they theenk uv thu sownd that "I" makes?

This hol post was written yuseeng thu lettirs how I see them in mai hed wen I wrait them down on too paper (or a compyutir).
Jim   Friday, November 21, 2003, 07:53 GMT
Here's what comes to mind when trying to think of letters for that sound:

"ie" as in "die", "lie", etc.
"igh" as in "high", "nigh", "night", etc.
"i" + magic "e" as in "kite", "mine", "shiny", etc. (the magic can come from other letters)
"y" as in "my", "fly", "cry", etc.
"y" + magic "e" as in "rhyme", "thyme", "tyger", etc. (ask William Blake)
and, of course, plain old
"i" as in "I", "pi", "child", etc.

What doesn't spring to mind is "ai", unless I start thinking about transliterations from other languages, e.g. "Taiwan", "Thailand", "gaijin", etc. When I think of "ai" in English words I think of the sound in "train", "chain", "bait", "maid".

I don't think "ai" is a good choice for the "i" sound in "mind". Putting "i" in front of a single consonant letter followed by an "e" is an option but it is not going to work for all words, e.g. "die", "cry", "eye", "mind".
Juan   Friday, November 21, 2003, 10:50 GMT
You are sure putting in a lot of effort into something that's not gonna happen. Must have a lot of time on your hands.
Clark   Friday, November 21, 2003, 21:03 GMT
Juan, while I would agree with you about trying to debate about spelling reform and then making up ways to do it, Jim and I are talking about how we perceive the sounds of the English language and with what letters we perceive when we hear these sounds.

Jim, since I have studied oodles of languages, I sometimes have biases about some spelling rules which would make my judgments for writing down sounds in letters a bit different from say someone who speaks English only and has never learned/studied another language.

But I do find it a bit odd for me that when I think about writing in English how I see the letters, I do not make the "i" an "ee" sound. This is odd for me because of most of the languages I have studied, the "i" is in fact an "ee" sound.

Anyways, I think that if I had to write the sentence "He thinks highly of himself" I would write it as, "Hee theekns hilee uv himself."

And maybe you were alluding to this Jim, but when we say , "hi, how are you?" the "i" in hi is a long "i" like in I. So I think that if I had not studied languages like I have, I might use this more often. But we must remember that if there is no standard writing, one would undoubtedly use many different spellings. And one can see this in many Middle English poetry and other writings. Also, my great-g-ma only went up to the 3rd grade. When she wrote a book about her childhood (this book was just for her and her family; I mean to say that it was not published or anything like that), she spelt the same word two or three different ways. Sometimes "her" would be either "hir" or "hur." Most of the time she worte, "hir."
Clark   Friday, November 21, 2003, 21:11 GMT
Ah crap, now that I have looked back at my example sentence and thought about it, I have thought about education.

I guess it really depends on the education that people receive, that would make them spell eith more like standard English or less like standard English. And it would also depend on how much a person would read.

For example, three people are told to write,

"I sat down by the pier yesterday deciding whether or not to go home."

The first person who has only a 1st grade education might write;

"I sat down by thu peer yestirday deecidin wethir or nat too go hom.

The second person with a 4th grade education might write;

"I sat down by the peer yesterday deciding wether or not to go hom."

The third person with a 10th grade education might write the sentence without any errors.
wassabi   Saturday, November 22, 2003, 03:33 GMT
i think someone in gr.4 might be able to spell "hom" properly.
Clark   Saturday, November 22, 2003, 07:56 GMT
Just trying to prove a point there, Wassabi.
Clark   Saturday, November 22, 2003, 07:58 GMT
Does anyone know what this word means in English, "Norðurlandamálin."

The word is in Icelandic, and it has something to do with language (it could be the name of a language possibly).
Richard   Saturday, November 22, 2003, 14:21 GMT
oh yeah, that spelling reform I was talking about did respell ''the'' as ''thu'' before a consonant and ''thee'' before a vowel. It also respelled ''have to'' ''has to'' and ''used to'' as ''haftoo'' ''hastoo'' and ''uestoo''. Fanetiks spells the as ''tha'' before a consonant and ''the'' before a vowel.