Simplified Spelling For English: Is It Worth The Trouble?

What many people do not realize, is that language and alphabets are two different things. A language is mainly a spoken thing, while an alphabet is a way of approximating this spoken voices on paper (or stone, or keyboard).

English is notorious in being non-phonetic, and hence there has always been calls to reform/simplify the way it is spelled.

For example, Yahoo had an article on efforts for pushing simplified spelling, and how they persist.

This idea is not new of course. In 1779, Benjamin Franklin proposed a new phonetic spelling system. You can see the full details on that system in this article. Noah Webster proposed the same in 1789.

There is also the Simplified Spelling Society, and this discussion on Slashdot.

On the other hand, you have Mark Twain who mocked the efforts in this piece of satire he wrote:

A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling, by Mark Twain:

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.

This is very similar to the humorous email that is being forwarded for simpler English. It reads:

The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has
been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European
communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility.
As part of the negotiations, the British government conceded that
English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a
five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for
short).

In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c".
Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the
hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up
konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the
troublesome "ph" will be replaced by "f". This will make words like
"fotograf" 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be
expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are
possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters,
which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil
agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is
disgrasful, and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing
"th" by z" and "w" by " v".

During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords
kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer
kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be
no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand
ech ozer.

Ze drem vil finali kum tru.

Funny ...

Contents: 

Comments

Ok, I finally found the

Ok, I finally found the serbocroatian latin fonts, and now will type the same english text with this font. It will look perfectly phonetical:

'British Columbia has a very diverse ethnic population, with a large number of immigrants having lived in the province for 30 years or less. Asians are by far the largest visible minority demographic, with many of the Lower Mainland's large cities having sizable Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Korean communities. The Sikh population is also considerable, especially in Surrey and South Vancouver'.

PHONETICAL:

Britiš Kolumbija has a veri divrs etnik popjulejšn, wid a lardž namber of imigrants having livd in d provins for 30 jirs or les. Ejžns ar baj far d lardžest vizibl majnoriti demografik, wid meni of d Louer Meinlends lardž sitiis having siizabl čajniiz, džapaniiz, filipino end korian komjunitiis. D sik popjulejšn is olso konsiderabl, espešli in Sri end Saut Vankuver.

Greetings (Griitings)

Why they don't accept the Serbocroatian spelling for English?

Serbocroatian language is 100% phonetically written. It's very easy to write English according to this lanuage writting. Here's an example:
'British Columbia has a very diverse ethnic population, with a large number of immigrants having lived in the province for 30 years or less. Asians are by far the largest visible minority demographic, with many of the Lower Mainland's large cities having sizable Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Korean communities. The Sikh population is also considerable, especially in Surrey and South Vancouver'.

Here's how it would look written by SerboCroatian phonetical writting rules:

"Britis' Kolumbija hes a veri divers et'nik popjulejs'n, vid'a lardz' namber ov imigrants heving livd in d' provins for t'rti jirs or les. Ejz'ns ar baj far d' lardz'est vizibl majnoriti dimografic, vid' meni ov d' lover meinlends lardz sitiis having siizabl c'ajniiz, dz'apaniiz, filipino end korian komjunitiiz. D' sik popjulejs'n iz olso konsiderabl, espes'ali in S'ri end Saut' Vankuver".

Witha very little effort English can be transformed into a phonetically written langiuage, using the rules of the SerboCroat. Hopefully one day English will be phonetic, which will save a lot of wasted time on memorizing the spelling, and will make it much, much easier to learn. Cheers!

"Serbocroatian" spelling for English

The phonetic transcription for the American dialect of English usually referred to as “Trager and Smith” uses a system very much like that of the Slavic languages written in Latin letters, like Croatian (technically, I think that since Serbian is written in Cyrillic, it would be a different case). It uses /č/ for the sound of ch, /š/ for the sound of sh, and /ž/ for the sound of the letter Z in “azure.” But it retains /j/ for the sound of J in “jump,” not that of Y in “yet.” Since the Slavic languages lack symbols for a few of the sounds in English, the Trager and Smith system borrows /θ/ from Greek for the sound of unvoiced TH (as in “thin”) and /ð/ from Old English (and Icelandic) for the sound of voiced TH (as in “this”). With the extra symbols /æ/ for the short A in “cat,” ŋ for the combination NG as in “sing,” and the ubiquitous /ә/ for the schwa sound (A as in “above”) and short U as in “cut,” one can write North American English phonetically with a minimum of strange “hieroglyphic” symbols.

The vowels have approximately their traditional European values, /a/ as “father,” /e/ as in “met,” /i/ as in “pin,” /o/ only in the diphthongs /oy/ as in “boy” or /ow/ as in “grow,” and /u/ as in “push.” The long vowels are treated as diphthongs with /w/ or /y/: long A is /ey/, long E is /iy/, long I is /ay/, long O is /ow/, long U is /yuw/, and long OO is /uw/. So the proposed text would read:

/britiš kәlәmbiyә hæz ә veriy dәvәrs eθnik papyәleyšәn, wiθ a larj nәmbәr әv imәgrәnts hæviŋ livd in ðә pravins fәr θәrtiy yiyrs әr les. eyžәnz ar bay far ðә larjәst vizәbәl maynoritiy demәgræfik, wiθ meniy әv ðә lowәr meynlәnz larj sitiyz hæviŋ sayzәbәl čayniyz, jæpәniyz, filәpiynow, әn kәriyәn kәmyuwnәtiyz. ðә siyk papyәleyšәn iz alsow kәnsidәrәbәl, әspešәliy in sәriy әn sawθ vænkuwvәr./

This, while phonetic (at least according to my interpretation of the pronunciation, which may differ even among speakers of the same regional dialect), is pretty much illegible to the non-specialist reader. So much for phonetic spelling.