English grammar is chaotic !

Brennus   Sun Dec 18, 2005 8:50 am GMT

I think that that is so though many of them had ancestors that came from the English-Scottish border region so it's a little hard to tell whether they were more Scotch or more English. Patrick Henry was apparently of Welsh origin. Thomas Jefferson's father came from North Wales but I'm told that he had some Scotch-Irish ancestry too. Alexander Hamilton, born in the West Indies, had a Scottish father and a French mother. There was even one Irish Catholic in the group, Daniel Carroll from Maryland.
Brennus   Sun Dec 18, 2005 8:52 am GMT
I think that that is so > I think that is so (sounds better).
Damian in Edinburgh   Sun Dec 18, 2005 11:00 am GMT
Just a sideline.....an American-Welsh connection. The family of the founder of Yale University, in the USA, came from North Wales, where there is a rural district called Ial (there is a circumflex above the "a" to lenghthen the vowel sound, so in Welsh it is pronounced something like the English would say "yarl" (with no rhoticism!). The village from whence the founder's family came is called Llanarmon-yn-Ial (here there IS a definite rhoticism! For the LL sound this is what you do: place tip of tongue gently behind the centre of your top teeth and and blow! I can't put it any simpler than that to get the authentic LL sound. It is NOT a THL sound as so many Anglo Saxons are instructed to say! No Welsh person would pronounce it as THLANarmon! It's LLANarmon.....a tip of tongue behind top teeth and a blow job (if you'll pardon the expression).

So the Welsh district of Ial has a direct link with the American Yale...probably the first name that comes to mind when non-Americans think of a famous American educational institution.
Muzaffari   Sun Dec 18, 2005 12:52 pm GMT
I do accept what you said, I am a native speaker of Farsi language, but I faild to see more spelling mess than I do in English. English spelling is really confusing both for native and non native speakers as you gave a shiny example indicating that even formal documents are crawling with spelling mistaks. Regards, Muzaffari, Kabul
Bardioc   Mon Dec 19, 2005 3:06 pm GMT
Rechtschreibreform - A Timeline


<<1901: The Staatliche Orthographie-Konferenz makes official the German spelling rules that only expired on 1 August 1998. This is the last official change in German spelling rules until the current reforms of 1996.>>

In 1901, a unification of german orthography took place. Even if some reform enthousiasts say that this was a reform, you can't consider that a reform, because to reform something, you already must have a form, i.e. an already existing spelling system for the whole language community. This unification was done on the base of already existing spellings.

<<1955: The conference of German education ministers declares the Duden reference publication the official guide in any questions on spelling and punctuation.>>

This is not a reform!

<<1 July 1996: Following ten years of work by an expert commission, a declaration approving the new spelling rules is signed in Vienna by representatives from Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and various other nations with German-speaking minorities.>>

Experts? They made very complex spelling rules which introduce ambiguity, grammatically wrong spellings, made reformed texts less readable etc.
They even didn't publish the actual spellings before!

<<August 1996: Schools in most German Bundesländer (states) begin teaching the new spelling rules.>>

Yes, in germany, you must obey to the authorities!

<<6 October 1996: At the Frankfurt Book Fair (Buchmesse) 100 respected authors, professors, and scientists sign the Frankfurt Declaration (Frankfurter Erklärung) calling for rejection of the reforms.>>

Not just 100 respected authors, professors, and scientiests signed it, but a lot of people from all over germany. I signed it, too!

<<14 July 1998: The German supreme court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) rules that the new spelling rules may go into effect as planned on 1 August 1998. The ruling denies a claim by a Lübeck couple that the spelling reforms damaged their son's educational rights and their own rights as parents.>>

The supreme court also said that outside of school and office everyone can stick to the classical rules.

<<1 August 1998: The new rules go into force for all schools and government offices in all German-speaking countries. As of this date, old spellings are now considered outdated but will not yet be marked as incorrect. A transitional period will allow the use of either the old or new spelling rules until 2005.>>


<<27 September 1998: Almost 60 percent of voters in the Schleswig-Holstein referendum reject spelling reform in the state's schools, making it the only one of Germany's 16 Bundesländer not to follow the new spelling rules. Legally, the vote was open to question. A later court decision overturns the referendum.>>

In the period of time before the reform, we was told that a reform will not happen if just one of the federal states will reject it. The texts of the referendum was formulated somewhat tricky, so you had to think to be sure to really vote against the reform.

<<1 August 1999: Most German-language media outlets begin using the new spelling rules. Only a few newspapers and magazines in the German-speaking countries refuse to go along with the reforms.>>

Really just a few?

<<1 August 2000: Germany's leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), returns to the old spelling rules. On July 26, 2000 the paper unexpectedly announces its decision to reject the unpopular spelling reforms that most of the German media had adopted a year before. On the first day of August "die FAZ" appears with the traditional spelling.>>

Do you really call that a reform, if real professionals don't care about it?

<<August 2004: The debate over spelling reform reignites when two of Germany's leading publishing houses, the Springer-Verlag and Der Spiegel announce they will return to the old spelling rules. Munich's Süddeutsche Zeitung soon announces it will join the other two. Germany's other magazine and newspaper publishers, including Spiegel's competitor Focus, say they will stick with the reforms—for now.>>

Reignates? It seemed that information on the effects of the reform was suppressed. There were a lot of discussion on the internet, especially on www.rechtschreibreform.com and on www.vrs-ev.de.

<<31 July 2005: The transitional period ends. From this date on, only the new spelling rules will be accepted in all German-speaking countries. Private citizens may continue to write German as they see fit, but all official publications and schools must use the new rules. >>

Which rules? The german ''Rechtschreibreform'' is not a static set of new rules. The reformed spelling rules was changed all the time. Who will accept what? Nowadays, nobody really knows about the current rules. According to the supreme court, everybody outside of school and office can write the way she or he likes.
Bardioc   Mon Dec 19, 2005 3:50 pm GMT
Adam Sat Dec 17, 2005 8:06 pm GMT

<<Old German spellings now verboten>>

According to the supreme court, outside school and office, everybody is free to write as she or he likes!

<<Last Updated Tue, 02 Aug 2005 15:59:56 EDT
CBC News
Most German traditionalists are reluctantly switching over to new German spelling rules that came into effect this week, designed to modernize and simplify the language.>>

If somebody comes up with some silly new habits, then the ones who stay normal are traditionalists! Do CBC News really think that ''traditionalists are reluctantly switching over''?

<<But some are vowing to defy the rules and stick to the old ways.>>

Sounds like a bad Hollywood movie!

<<“I don’t agree with the changes,” said German linguist Friedrich Denk, an outspoken critic of the reforms. “It’s a black day for the German language. Our common orthography that has served us well for centuries is being destroyed.”>>

Friedrich Denk is teacher! He was the initiator of the Frankfurter Erklärung.

<<More than six years ago, a special committee revised spelling rules in an attempt to rid the language of many of its quirks and make it more logical.>>

Yes, the commettee was special in that sense, that there was no parliamentary assignemant to do so! The reformers claimed not to change the language, just the spelling! Do they really think that a language can be made more logical? They just complicated the rules!

<<Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been in transition since then, with both sets of spelling rules in use.>>

Reformed spelling is not on of two sets of spelling rules, it was changed more than once during the last couple of years.

<<Under the new system, extremely long compound words have been broken up, comma rules have been simplified, and in many cases a double-S replaces the old letter sign for the sound, which resembles a capital B.>>

In German, ''extremly long compound words'' are possible, but not mandatory. You always can say it another way. So therefore, there was no need for a reform. The simplified comma rules in many cases yield a change in the meaning of a sentence or just confusion. So, to know the writer's intention, you have to reconstruct the sense, which takes you some time and efford. Besides the capital B, the ß looks also like a greek beta. This ''new'' rule was valid for about 20 years in Autriche and rejected in 1901 with the unification of german orthography. People not knowing the classical rules for ß aren't able to apply the double-s-rule correctly, yielding to a phenomenon called ''overgeneralisation'', i.e. that you also write double-s where, according to the reform, no such construct may occure.

<<School children have adapted easily to the changes, partly because their textbooks have been re-printed in accordance with the new spelling rules.>>

That's wrong! There are more spelling errors, due to the overgeneralisation phenomena, but also because the new rules are very confusing and complicated.

<<Several leading newspapers have stubbornly refused to introduce the changes, though, and stuck to the old spellings leading up to the Aug. 1 deadline for making the shift. Some politicians and intellectuals have even called for the reforms to be stopped, arguing that the new rules only serve to confuse things.>>

The use of the word ''stubbornly'' shows that CBC News at least don't know what it talks of.

<<The German states of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia are resisting the changes as long as they can.>>

At least at the beginning, Bavaria didn't resist.

<<The states, which are home to one-third of Germany’s population, have opted to wait until the German Spelling Council has dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on all the new rules before declaring the old ways incorrect. >>

There are only few experts in the ''German Spelling Council''!
Easterner   Tue Dec 20, 2005 7:56 pm GMT
Brennus: >>If you think English is bad checkout Gaelic (Irish and Scottish)! Otherwise what you say is basically true. Rom (Gypsy), Hungarian and Romanian are other languages that also tend to have have disorderly grammars.

There is a natural tendency for human languages to be well-organized (Most of the African languages are). Usually, in the case of a disorganized language there is a case where the language has either been pushed and shoved around a lot (as in the case of Romanian and the Celtic languages) or there is a case where the country speaking the language has been invaded a lot ( England, Hungary and Romania).<<

I am a little lost about your point. How do you define a "disorderly grammar"? It may be confusing to use terms whose meaning you take for granted, without defining what you mean. And are you speaking about grammar or spelling?

To me, being familiar with both the grammar of Hungarian and Romanian (and Romany, to a certain extent), they do not sound "disorderly" at all, although definitely more complex than the grammatical structure of some Indo-European languages. In my opinion, they are just different, but as good as the grammar of any other language.

As for the original post about the spelling of English being "chaotic", this may be true if you compare them with the orthography of languages where spelling was regularised at a more recent age (including basically all East European languages, whose present orthography was regulated during the 19th century). The main reason for the "disorderly" nature of English spelling is that it was more or less finalised before some decisive phonetic changes occurred (the most decisive being the Great Vowel Shift), and even if some attempts at regularisation occurred at a later stage, nobody ever really tried to adjust the spelling to actual pronunciation (the last such attempt being that of Webster, but even he did not attempt a full adjustment). The last time English spelling was in harmony with the pronunciation was probably in the Middle English period, around the 14th century.
corrado   Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:55 pm GMT
well, In my few every language has its own difficulties. I've learnt 7 languages: spanish portuguese french English russian hungarian and german ( italian is my mother language).
Mxsmanic   Sun Jan 08, 2006 12:19 am GMT
English is no more intrinsically difficult than any other language.
Guest   Sun Jan 08, 2006 10:14 am GMT
Yeah good point Easterner (chiar daca esti maghiar-cred). Romanian may have a difficult grammar but in spelling there's no problem. You just read the letters and pronounce them as they're in the alphabet :).
P.S. Do you really call Gypsy ROM? YAC!
Jim   Sun Jan 08, 2006 8:47 pm GMT
Sorry about the spelling of English. As a school kid we simply had to learn spelling by rote, about 50 words a week for a couple of years. My spelling now isn't too bad, but I still, like most of my countrymen/women, make mistakes.
eito(jpn)   Thu Jan 12, 2006 8:14 pm GMT
The "-ea-" as in "feather" should be spelled as "-e-".

ex. abrest, ahedd, airhedd, alreddy, bedsted, bredd, bredth, brekfast, brest, breth, clenliness, clenze, dedd, deddline, deff, deffen, (delt), deth, dred, dredful, drednaut, endevor, farmsted, fether, hedd, hedder, hedding, heddline, heddstart, helth, hether, heven, hevy, homested, insted, jellous, jellousy, ledd, (lept), lether, leven, (ment?), meddo, mesure, pesant(or pezzant), plesant, plesure, (redd), reddy, relm, spred, sted, steddy, stedfast, stelth, thred, thret, thretten, trechery, tred, tredmill, tresure, unsteddy, welth, weppon, (wether?), zellot, zellotry, zellous.
Kirk   Thu Jan 12, 2006 8:30 pm GMT
<<The "-ea-" as in "feather" should be spelled as "-e-". >>

The reason that spelling distinction exists is that it once signified a different vowel sound for many dialects. A few dialects still preserve the vowel difference between "bread" and "bred."
eito(jpn)   Mon Feb 13, 2006 4:48 pm GMT
The "ear-" as in "learn" should be spelled as "er-".

ex. derth, erl, erly, ern, erner, ernest, ernings, erth, erthen, erthy, (herd,) herse, lern, lerner, lernid, lerning, perl, perly, rehersal, reherse, reserch, serch, (unherd,) unlern, yern, yerning
Archy   Mon Feb 13, 2006 5:33 pm GMT
The more "well organised" a language is the less potent is becomes at being able to express human communication.

'Basic' languages like a lot of indigenous African languages cannot convey many points that can be expressed in English.

ie... In Swahili the language for "I have been to France" is the same as "I am in France".

What use is that !!

English is disorgnaised and complex because it is an evolved language, greatly evolved and the most effective, aesthetic language in the present day world.

"Bold" Archy Bold