Anglo-Saxon Anarcho-Traditionalism and the Spontaneous Order

beneficii   Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:07 am GMT
of English Spelling
by Jeff Snyder

I think this is a good article. It defends the current "chaotic" English spelling system, saying that "it is a unique expression of Anglo-Saxon freedom."
Guest   Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:09 am GMT
This is ideology.
Dave   Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:35 am GMT
Well-researched for a column, but ultimately turns into one of his usual weak diatribes against socialism.

"English spellings, like Chinese ideograms, often carry valuable etymological clues as to the meanings of words, and just as much was lost when the Chinese communists simplified their country's writing system, so much would be lost by any radical attempts to simplify English. Besides, just as the old Chinese characters are more beautiful than the new, is not "through" more beautiful than thru?"

Somebody better tell that to the radical socialists at McDonald's, who are trying to enforce "I'm lovin it" and "drive-thru" on us. Must be the influence of the work of the "intolerable George Bernard Shaw".

Sorry, I appreciate you posting the link - it makes for an interesting read and good debate. He does make some decent points I actually agree with. But, overall, I don't agree - but I admit to being a left-wing liberal (by the modern American definition) who has not agreed with columns posted on the site in the past.
Guest   Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:25 am GMT
I repeat. It's not linguistics, it's ideology
Uriel   Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:40 am GMT
<<Somebody better tell that to the radical socialists at McDonald's>>

Oh, I almost peed myself!

<<who are trying to enforce "I'm lovin it" and "drive-thru" on us.>>

Well, even the most downtrodden of the proletariat would have to admit that they ARE far catchier than "Up the Revolution!" ... as all of the comrades in the boardroom agreed, before moving on to tackle a comprehensive marketing strategy for their new side dish, McBorscht.
Damian in Edinburgh   Wed Mar 12, 2008 8:53 am GMT
***their new side dish, McBorscht***

Sounds quite dreich! Please don't tell me it contains beetroot? I can feel a rash coming on already..... :-(
Guest   Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:42 am GMT
A flaming red rash is quite appropriate for a Happy Commie Meal.
Xie   Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:54 pm GMT
>>>and just as much was lost when the Chinese communists simplified their country's writing system<<<

It's a test on your critical thinking skills. The reform is more than THAT. Quite contrary to popular beliefs, even among natives, the first simplified characters, which are exactly some of the basic ones on the Communist list (known as the present set of simplified characters), were actually created by a scholar Qian Xuantong in the 1930s and supported by the then nationalist government, though the attempt was short-lived and confined to just some 300 characters.

If simplified characters are to be considered a culprit in the destruction of culture, especially in the worst "commie" eras, then it might be attributed to 2 facts. For one thing, Mao's administration ruled that, to carry out the reform more effectively, more characters had to be simplified, and so they added even more simplifying rules, resulting in even more exceptions akin to through and dough and rough. The first part of the list has some 300 characters, but the subsequent lists created in the 1950s contain some 2000 characters. Like what Qian supported, the party's aim was to ultimately adopt (Latin) letters and abolish Chinese characters once and for all. In fact, there had been some other scholars who supported abolishing the Hanzi, like Lu Xun who claimed that Hanzi was (IIRC) monster, barbarous and uncivilized stuff and thus should be eradicated.

What is the cause? Thanks to foreign invasions, the weak Qing Empire had been unable to avoid losing territories, wealth and national pride, and subsequent political and social turmoil, which persisted even throughout the Republican era, had led people as popular as Lu Xun to believe that the difficulty of learning characters had been the main culprit because they were considered to keep the literacy rate low (which Japan proved to be not reasonable). The cultural disaster had been caused by both some of the Chinese intellectuals and FOREIGN INVADERS. When we discuss whether simplified characters are really that symbolic of communism, it'd be very interesting to see why the early communists (Mao was; Lu Xun was never a communist, but at least left-wing) thought in that way.

I then wonder: how may we speak of linguistic determinism? It was the British who first defeated China and squashed her cultural arrogance. It was English which was the first significant foreign language that entered into the Chinese culture (not Latin with Russia or Russian or Japanese). It was soldiers who spoke the supposed language of freedom that had been responsible for the burning down of Yuanmingyuan. It just happened that US had been able to put forward and manipulate freedom easily, with its brand-new, now worldwide political system, but I seriously doubt what that freedom means to us. Whereas the China Threat may have been quite around many nations that might treat that country as a potential enemy, let me tell you that the people also have certain obvious potential enemies in mind. Yet, despite all this, English is our de facto second language.
Xie   Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:08 pm GMT
Correction: I shall say that simplified characters didn't suddenly come into place in the 1950s. Before that, there had been numerous attempts, and the most famous was that by Qian. I suppose this task was not done by just one scholar or a mere government; rather, it was the collective work of many, but later became so political that scholars had no say and could only choose "not to err on the side of the right wing".

A famous slogan, even before the "commie" era, had been: China shall perish if its characters not be abolished. It may sound terribly stupid now, but then many intellectuals were so much enthusiastic about replacing characters with something like Esperanto. I can see that all those huge political events of the past century were first induced by this sort of scholars who believed in such idealism.
Uriel   Thu Mar 13, 2008 2:18 am GMT
<<***their new side dish, McBorscht***

Sounds quite dreich! Please don't tell me it contains beetroot? I can feel a rash coming on already..... :-( >>

Of course not, my dear man! That would be like claiming that their burgers actually contain beef! When, in fact, they may not even be biodegradable.
Damian in Edinburgh   Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:11 am GMT
What a relief as I cannae stand beetroot - I'd rather eat an eel pie....for breakfast. Are eels biodegradable?

Suddenly I feel a wee bit queasy......pity this site doesn't have emoticons......a "throwing up" one would be appropriate right now.
greg   Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:16 am GMT
Snyder : « To complicate things, English spelling is far less phonetic than that of other languages; many letters have more than one sound and many sounds are represented by more than one letter. »

Quelle découverte !
En voici d'autres :
→ en allemand, <sch> représente un seul phonème : /ʃ/= /S/ !
→ en néerlandais, <b> transcrit deux phonèmes : /b/ et /p/ !

Snyder : « To understand English spelling, it is necessary to understand the script by which it is represented, the Roman or Latin alphabet. »

Ça alors ! C'est pareil en castillan et en polonais...

Snyder : « To name but a few, we have <disciple>, <priest>, and <nun> from Latin, <apostle>, <pope>, and <psalm> from Greek, <angel> and <devil> from Hebrew, <camel>, <lion>, <cedar>, and <ginger> from Oriental languages. »

C'est étrange : <angel> & <lion> viennent de l'ancien français. Et <devil> & <ginger> sont venus par le latin.

Quant au reste, on le trouve aussi dans les autres langues ; donc ce n'est pas spécifique à l'anglais et à son orthographe.

Snyder : « The farm, restaurant, and lecture hall come to mind when we hear <cow>-<beef>-<bovine> and <pig>-<pork>-<porcine>. The words <kingly>, <royal>, and <regal> have different shades of <meaning>, <nuance>, and <significance>. »

Encore une spécificité anglaise...

Jugez plutôt :
<vache> <bœuf> <bovin>
<cochon> <porc> <porcin>
<princier> <royal> <régalien>
<sens> <nuance> <signification>.

Snyder : « English is the ideal common language for Europe, for speakers of southern Romance and northern Germanic languages can both find points of familiarity with the language. »

C'est sûr ! D'autant qu'il n'y a ni slavophones ni hellénophones en Europe...

Voici ce que comprendrait un romanophone ignorant des langues germaniques : « ideal common language Europe, Romance Germanic languages points familiarity language. »

De mieux en mieux...
Snyder : « Such a one was the intolerable George Bernard Shaw, who proposed a complete phoneticization of English spelling. [...] Under Shaw's system, <sign> would become *<sain> and no longer recognizably related to the verb <signify>, thus losing its <significance>. »

Il faudra expliquer à ce sinistre crétin ce qui se passe à l'oral :
/saɪ̯n/ = /saI_^n/
/sɪgnɪfɪkeɪ̯ʃən/ = /sIgnIfIkeI_^S@n/
/sɪɡnɪfɪkəns/ = /sIgnIfIk@ns/.

Est-ce que la parole /saɪ̯n/ = /saI_^n/ perd sa signification à l'oral sous prétexte qu'elle ne se prononce pas */sɪɡn/ = */sIgn/ ? Non bien sûr. C'est pareil à l'écrit !

Snyder : « The English language has no equivalent to the Académie française governing the use of the language including orthography. »

Et l'ignorance n'a pas de meilleur représentant que ce Snyder : l'organisation dont il parle ne "gouverne" pas la langue française qui se gouverne toute seule comme toutes les langues humaines !

Snyder : « The anarcho-traditionalism of the English-speaking peoples, until recently at least, would never tolerate such an intrusion into something as organic as language. »

Au-delà de l'oxymore en tête de phrase qui révèle la profonde méconnaissance du terme <anarchie>, le cuistre Snyder (qui se prétend prof d'anglais !!!) ne peut pas ne pas s'apercevoir que le scripto-anglais est soumis (comme toutes les langues ultranormées) à des règles bien plus impérieuses que celles qu'édictent les vieillards séniles de l'Académie française pour le français...

Snyder : « The stubborn Anglo-Saxon distrust of both authority-for-authority's-sake and change-for-change's-sake inevitably doom grandiose efforts such as Shaw's to failure. »

Ce Snyder est un sous-idéologue de supermarché ! Où était la rebellion anglo-saxonne lors du putsch de Bush en 2000 ? Que faisaient les grandes âmes anglo-saxonnes anti-autoritaires lors du massacre de Bagdad en 2003 ? Snyder devait certainement avoir le pif collé sur FoxNews...

Snyder : « Correct grammar or spelling is determined not by some institution, but by what the majority of educated native speakers use. »

Monsieur de La Palice n'aurait pas dit mieux... Au fait, qu'est-ce que « la majorité des locuteurs maternels éclairés » sinon une institution ?

Snyder : « Thus, past tense forms such as <dove> or <dived> are both acceptable. »

Ben oui ma brav'dame. Un peu comme <muß> & <muss> en allemand. Ou <fainéant> et <feignant> en français...

Le meilleur pour la fin.
Snyder : « This article will attempt to retell how the English spelling system came to be what it is and to show how it is a unique expression of Anglo-Saxon freedom. »

Je dirais plutôt que c'est aussi l'expression du talent des francographes médiévaux dont l'héritage permet heureusement de confondre la bêtise snydérienne.