Arguments for English Spelling Reform
This schema is a collection of arguments about how proper grammar, with its illogical and inconsistently applied rules, is used by academics and intellectuals to create a privileged class of people who's ideas deserve considering because they have successfully learned the irrational system.
Folksonomies: phonetics grammar
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter c would be dropped to be replased either by k or s, and likewise x would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which c would be retained would be the ch formation, which will be dealt with later.
Year 2 might reform w spelling, so that which and one would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish y replasing it with i and Iear 4 might fiks the g/j anomali wonse and for all.
Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.
Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez c, y and x — bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez — tu riplais ch, sh, and th rispektivli.
Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
- Proponents feel that simplified characters having fewer strokes makes it easier to learn. Literacy rates have risen steadily in rural and urban areas since the simplification of the Chinese characters, while this trend was hardly seen during 30 years of Kuomintang (KMT) rule and 250 years of Manchurian rule before them, when the traditional writing system was dominant, though this rise in literacy may not necessarily be due to simplification alone.
- Although Taiwan, which uses traditional Chinese characters, has a better literacy rate, proponents point out that with a population 50 times larger and landmass 260 times bigger, the illiteracy in mainland China is much more difficult to eradicate. In 2004, the only provinces of China where the illiteracy rates were lower than Taiwan's wereGuangdong at 3.84%, and Guangxi at 3.79%.
- Many studies have been conducted to prove, contrary to cultural prejudice, that simplified characters are easier to learn than traditional ones.
- The literacy rate in mainland China is higher than that of Taiwan when compared at the same GDP per capita.
To lay is to place something or put something down, and it must be followed by a noun or pronoun, a thing; to lie is to recline. A lie is an untruth, and to lie also means "to tell an untruth." Examples: Lay that package on the mantel, will you please? Bridgette would like to lie in the hammock near the pool. Sometimes it's tempting to lie when you're in trouble, but a lie only makes things worse. (Hint:Lay sounds like place; lie sounds like recline. But be careful: lay is also the past tense of the verb to lie: Jay lay on the couch all day yesterday.)
A brake is the device that stops a vehicle; to break is to separate or destroy; and the noun break is a timed stoppage, as in "take a break." Examples: You could break your bones if the brakes on your car or bike don't work!
A chord is the combination of two or more tones sounded at the same time; acord is a rope or string, or an insulated electric wire fitted with a plug to use as a conduit. Examples: The dissonant chord sung by the choir sounded like a cat screeching! The computer lab has a mass of cords crawling from the computers to the walls.
Continual means "repeated regularly and often;" continuous means "extended or prolonged without interruption." Examples: Julia hated the continual negative political ads. The alarm bell was jammed and rang continuously; it never stopped and was making Gayle loony!
A cue is a clue or hint or a subtle pointing out of something; it's also a long, tapered stick used in playing billiards or pool; a queue (a term used mainly in Britain) is a file or line, especially of people awaiting their turn; it also is a braid of hair worn hanging down the back. Examples: Take a cue from Jeff; he's an accomplished pool player and often chalks his cue. Allison had a long braid of hair that draped down her back, and when she stood in line we joked that she was a girl with a queue in a queue!
Eminent means "distinguished or superior"; imminent means "impending, sure to happen." Also, eminent domain is the right of a government to take over private property for public use. Examples: The rain was imminent; it would arrive soon, soaking the eminent dignitaries on the stage. (Think of imminent andimpending, which both begin with the same letters.)
Stationary means "fixed in place, unable to move;" stationery is letterhead or other special writing paper. (Hint: Stationery with an e comes with an envelope.) Examples: Evan worked out on his stationary bike. The duke's initials and crest appeared atop his personal stationery.
The eccentric spelling of the English language is preserved because of a pervasive meme that there are right and wrong ways to spell words. This meme has all kinds of support, including dictionaries, computer spell-checkers, and children's spelling bees. But before the Use a dictionary strategy-meme became prevalent during the 18th and 19th centuries, people spelled words any way they wanted. It's not True that there's one and only one correct way to spell a word-it's just a meme. As Mark Twain said, "'Tis a small mind cannot think of but one way to spell a word."
We think it's True because all our lives people have been criticizing us for misspelling words-we've been programmed. Not that there's anything wrong with consistent spelling-it enhances communication, after all-but it's important to start seeing that all of what we think of as the Truth is composed of memes, and most of those memes just came into our heads through programming, without any of our own conscious choice involved.
The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.
...it can be argued, perhaps, if they wish, that it's a question of style and beauty in the language, and that to make new words and new parts of speech might destroy that. But they cannot argue that respelling the words would have anything to do with the style. There's no form of art form or literary form, with the sole exception of crossword puzzles, in which the spelling makes a bit of difference to the style. And even crossword puzzles can be made with a different spelling. And if it's not the English professors that do it, and if we give them two years and nothing happens--and please don't invent three ways of doing it, just one way, that everybody is used to---if we wait three years and nothng happens, then we'll ask the philologists and the linguists and so on because they know how to do it. Adid you know that they can write any language with an alphabet so that you can read how it sounds in another language when you hear it? That's really something. So they ought to be able to do it in English alone.
Now let me get to a lower level still in this question. And that is, all the time you hear the question, "why can't Johnny read?" And the answer is, because of the spelling. The Phoenicians, 2000, more, 3000, 4000 years ago, somewhere around there, were able to figure out from their language a scheme of describing the sounds with symbols. It was very simple. Each sound had a corresponding symbol, and each symbol, a corresponding sound. So that when you could see what the symbols' sounds were, you could see what the words were supposed to sound like. It's a marvelous invention. And in the period of time things have happened, and things have gotten out of whack in the English language. Why can't we change the spelling? Who should do it if not the professors of English? If the professors of English will complain to me that the students who come to the universities, after all those years of study, still cannot spell "friend," I say to them that something's the matter with the way you spell friend.
I received a letter today from the "Reading Reform Foundation," which tells me that "23 million (American) adults are functionally illiterate, unable to read an advertisement, a job application, directions on a medicine bottle." They say "30 percent of all schoolchildren have serious reading difficulties."
I rather believe this, judging from my own limited experience with people. But why is this?
Can it be that part of the reason is the matter of English spelling? The letter tells me that "87 percent of English words are phonetic; each of them follows predictable rules for reading and spelling." But that means that 13 percent of English words are not, and that includes many common words indeed.
Franklin's own impulse in creating the alphabet was quite different. He was a man who looked closely and with curiosity at the world around him, seeking ways to improve it wherever he saw the opportunity. His alphabet was conceived in the same spirit as his less smoky, more fuel-efficient house-heating stove, or his more easily cleaned and repaired street lamp. The alphabet, for Franklin, was not unlike a household tool, something to repair, rewire, and update. Improving the writing system would have the twin benefits of increasing the spread of literacy among native-speakers, as well as enhancing international understanding, making it easier for foreign speakers to learn English. Franklin, youngest son of a Boston soap-maker, and with less than two years of formal education, credited much of his "rags to riches" success story to his habit of reading and was always anxious to share that opportunity with others.
As Franklin correctly noted, alphabets were developed in order to transcribe speech, but "the Changes in Pronunciation brought on by the Course of Ages" combined with the tendency of alphabets to remain static
With spelling erratic, many English words become ideograms that must be learned as a whole, with its parts giving no clue or, worse yet, false clues. If you don't know in advance and just judge by the letters, can you know that "through," "coo," "do," "true," "knew," and "queue" all rhyme? If you don't know in advance and just judge by the letters, can you know that "gnaw," kneel," "mnemonic" and "note" all start with the same consonant sound?
Why can't we say "throo," "koo," "doo," "troo," "nyoo," and "kyoo"? Why can't we say "naw," "neel," "nemonik" and "note"?
It looks funny? Sure it does, because you've memorized the "correct" way--but millions are helped on the road to illiteracy because the "correct" way makes no sense.
The plural of "man" is "men." Why not "mans"? Because it's childish?
Exactly! To say "mans" is the first impulse of children when they learn plurals--the sensible impulse. But if "men" makes sense, why don't you ask for "two cen of soup"? Why do you ask for "cans"?
Consider the case of a child I observed through his eighth and ninth years. Jim was a highly verbal and mathophobic child from a professional family. His love for words and for talking showed itself very early, long before he went to school. The mathophobia developed at school. My theory is that it came as a direct result of his verbal precocity. I learned from his parents that Jim had developed an early habit of describing in words, often aloud, whatever he was doing as he did it. This habit caused him minor difficulties with parents and preschool teachers. The real trouble came when he hit the arithmetic class. By this time he had learned to keep "talking aloud" under control, but I believe that he still maintained his inner running commentary on his activities. In his math class he was stymied: He simply did not know how to talk about doing sums. He lacked a vocabulary (as most of us do) and a sense of purpose. Out of this frustration of his verbal habits grew a hatred of math, and out of the hatred grew what the tests later confirmed as poor aptitude.
For me the story is poignant. I am convinced that what shows up as intellectual weakness very often grows, as Jim's did, out of intellectual strengths. And it is not only verbal strengths that undermine others. Every careful observer of children must have seen similar processes working in different directions: For example, a child who has become enamored of logical order is set up to be turned off by English spelling and to go on from there to develop a global dislike for writing.
The time taken to teach the decimalised system for currency, temperature, weights and distances is far shorter and more certain than when 240 pence equalled a pound, 32 degrees Fahrenheit equalled the temperature of ice and pounds and ounces were taught. Already there is a generation that was spared these ancient measurements.
To improve literacy in the general population, modernisation of the spelling system will bring similar benefits to what decimalisation brought.
A short list of the problems caused by the irregularity of English spelling starts with children being taught the alphabet and finding that it is a poor guide on how to reliably pronounce the written form or reproducing spoken words in writing.
This leads inevitably to poor results in other areas of learning, as without literacy competency, no child can master other subjects.
Apart from the loss in terms of peoples? working lives there are other costs associated with remedial classes, additional spelling classes, all of which would be better used in teaching other subjects in a world that requires a skilled and knowledgeable work force.
The costs run into billions of pounds annually.
i ui iu to knsider is Alfabet, and giv mi Instanses f st Ili Urds and Sunds az iu mee ink kannt perfektli bi eksprest bi it. i am persueeded it mee bi kmplited bi iur help. i greeter difiklti uil bi to bri it into ius. Huevr, if Amendments eer nevr atemted, and is kntinu to gro urs and urs, ee mst km to bi in a reted Kndin at last; st indiid i ink ur Alfabet and Riti lredi in; bt if ui go n az ui hev dn e fiu Senturiz lnger, ur urds uil graduali siis to ekspres Sunds, ee uil onli stand fr is, az i rittin urds du in i Tuiniiz Languad, huit i sspekt mit oridinali hev bin e litiral Riti lik at f Iurop, bt ru i Teendez in Pronsien brt n bi i Kors f Eedes, and ru i bstinet Adhirens f at Pipil to old Kstms and am rs to eer old manr ov Riti, i oridinal Sunds f Leters and Urds eer lst, and no lngr knsidered.
I wish you to consider this Alphabet, and give me Instances of such English Words and Sounds as you may think can not perfectly be expressed by it. I am persuaded it may be completed by your help. The greater difficulty will be to bring it into use. However, if Amendments are never attempted and things continue to grow worse and worse they must come to be in a wretched Condition at last; such indeed I think our Alphabet and Writing already in; but if we go on as we have done a few Centuries longer, our words will gradually cease to express Sounds, they will only stand for things, as the written words do in the Chinese Language, which I suspect might originally have been a literal Writing like that of Europe, but through the Changes in Pronunciation brought on by the Course of Ages and through the obstinate Adherence of that People to old Customs, and among others to their old manner of Writing, the original Sounds of Letters and Words are lost, and no longer considered.
Nevertheless, almost everybody speaks better than he writes. (This also applies to authors.) Writing is a highly formalized technique which, in purely physiological terms, demands a peculiarly rigid bodily posture. To this there corresponds the high degree of social specialization that it demands. Professional writers have always tended to think in caste terms. The class character of their work is unquestionable, even in the age of universal compulsory education. The whole process is extraordinarily beset with taboos. Spelling mistakes, which are completely immaterial in terms of communication, are punished by the social disqualification of the writer. The rules that govern this technique have a normative power attributed to them for which there is no rational basis. Intimidation through the written word has remained a widespread and class-specific phenomenon even in advanced industrial societies.
These alienating factors cannot be eradicated from written literature. They are reinforced by the methods by which society transmits its writing techniques. While people learn to speak very early, and mostly in psychologically favorable conditions, learning to write forms an important part of authoritarian socialization by the school (