Distinguishing the "th" sounds in a spelling refor

Travis   Mon May 21, 2007 2:37 pm GMT
Sorri, kuddent help it (and sorri, no daiekritiks):

Dhe mein thing, tu my, iz dhat dheer aar minimal peirz, oalbiit fiu, on /T/ versus /D/ (in dhe foorm ov naun-verb peirz) and dhat dhe tu aar radher unkomplikeetid with ryspekt tu veerieesjen bytwyn daielekts (with oonli sum relletivli mainer veerieesjen, sutj az /T/ versus /D/ foar "with", with /T/ biing moor konservetiv), and dhe oarthograffik repryzenteesjen ov sutj wud by streitfoarwerd ("th" versus "dh" oar "" verses "") so ai sy no ryzen tu omit dhe distinksjen dyspait not having oal dhat *manni* minimal peirz. Dhis iz unlaik sum thingz, sutj az dhe lot-kloth distinksjen, hwitj iz not rili konsistent from diaelekt tu diaelekt in dhe diaelekts in hwitj it okurz and huuz repryzenteesjen wud laikli overli komplikeet dhe oarthograffi in kwestjen.

(Noot dhat dheer iz e bit ov edditing in dhe ebuv tekst.)
Travis   Mon May 21, 2007 2:40 pm GMT
Noot dhat "verses" sjud by "versus" ebuv.
Travis   Mon May 21, 2007 4:35 pm GMT
>>It depends of course on what the goal of the reform is. A phonemic system is impossible cross-dialectically, but a "most/oldest distinctions" system like Travis's is possible (though it reduces the benefits of the reform for those of us with a lot of mergers). Wells's proposal that we discussed a few weeks ago uses a "minimum distinction" system that I think goes too far the other way; in stereotypical Canadian fashion, I prefer something in the middle.<<

I myself chose the approach that I use because I seek to have an orthography that is universal for all extant English dialects today, not merely the standard varieties, and I do not seek to create an orthography that will be necessarily tied very closely to the present time but rather one that is based in diachronics. I also want to create an orthography that will stand the test of time (which will only require minor modification for at least a couple centuries) and which will be not affected much by future dialectal change rather than requiring frequent updating for any changes that occur in any standard varieties. Such an orthography should be suitable for the basis of a common written English centuries from now, when individual English dialect groups will likely have become noncrossintelligible to a good degree, when there will still be value in maintaining a single written language despite dialect divergence (akin to Latin during the Middle Ages).

Consequently, the orthography is based on representing the roots of present-day English dialects in terms of the diachronics of later Early New English rather than truly representing any particular variety or hybrid of varieties of Late New English. Such an orthography need not represent how individual English dialects are actually spoken, since it has to be accepted the present-day dialects will change and diverge in the future, and particular variety-specific pronunciations will become obsolete quickly (in many cases potentially within the span of less than a single century). Such an orthography might be obsolete in a sense, but it would be both equally obsolete and equally current for all dialects overall by not representing new dialect-specific changes while representing old pronunciations that are likely to be preserved in particular dialects.

However, while the current orthography is actually suitable to fit many of the aforementioned principles and goals, the matter with it is that it is not systematic, that it is not rooted in actual diachronics, that it is often very ad hoc in nature, and it is based further back in time than necessary, being largely based on upon the phonology of Late Middle English (even though it is not an accurate representation of that either) whereas later Early New English is early enough for diachronically representing the vast majority of extant English dialects today. An orthography based on later Early New English and the principles mentioned above would in no fashion obviate the spelling bee or eliminating having to remember differences between pronunciation and spelling for individual English varieties, but it would have a firmer basis than the current English orthography.

Upon such a firmer basis, differences between what is represented and what is pronounced could be analyzed in terms of actual diachronics rather than ad hoc word-by-word pronunciations (aside from word class-specific sound changes, which will still have to be remembered for the particular word classes in question). No longer will one have to teach how individual words are pronounced but rather one will teach the particular *interpretation* of what the orthography represents for the target variety on the basis of sound change, be it global or word class-specific.