English Orthography Reform

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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by MoonRightRomantic » Fri 10 Mar 2017, 21:17

The failure of English spelling is that it tries to perform multiple contradictory functions and ends up performing none of them, at least not with any accuracy. It tries to preserve correct etymology, erroneous etymology, historical mistakes, deliberate insertion of silent letters to increase printing costs, multiple dialects, pronunciation, and so many other unnecessary details. The result is a mess that has more in common with Hieroglyphs or Hanzi than alphabets.

The only way to preserve etymology and pronunciation, at the same time and correctly, would be to use two parallel scripts. One set of logographs representing morphemes and one set of phonograms representing phonemes. Since semantics and pronunciation are indicated separately, dialectal differences would only need to be accounted for when writing lyrics for dialect-specific rhymes (e.g. singer and finger rhyme in some dialects).

An analogous contemporary would be writing Hanzi with mandatory ruby characters. In the modern era computers are the typical means of composing large volumes of text and emoji are widespread in informal communication, so such a system may not see as much resistance as previous reforms.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by OTʜᴇB » Fri 10 Mar 2017, 22:13

MoonRightRomantic wrote:The failure of English spelling is that it tries to perform multiple contradictory functions and ends up performing none of them, at least not with any accuracy. It tries to preserve correct etymology, erroneous etymology, historical mistakes, deliberate insertion of silent letters to increase printing costs, multiple dialects, pronunciation, and so many other unnecessary details. The result is a mess that has more in common with Hieroglyphs or Hanzi than alphabets.

The only way to preserve etymology and pronunciation, at the same time and correctly, would be to use two parallel scripts. One set of logographs representing morphemes and one set of phonograms representing phonemes. Since semantics and pronunciation are indicated separately, dialectal differences would only need to be accounted for when writing lyrics for dialect-specific rhymes (e.g. singer and finger rhyme in some dialects).

An analogous contemporary would be writing Hanzi with mandatory ruby characters. In the modern era computers are the typical means of composing large volumes of text and emoji are widespread in informal communication, so such a system may not see as much resistance as previous reforms.
A good point, but my counter-argument to the "it's like logographs" point is that it is, but better. We can type our logographs very easily with a keyboard, they at least hint at pronunciation most of the time, and it is fairly equally compatible across all its dialects - it's hanzi on steroids!

As for your links, the first is interesting, and I'm tempted to have a go, not for the sake of orthography reform, but because it seems entertaining. As for the second, I can barely take it seriously. A series of quotes from the page:
"short /u/ in umbrella" << Who needs IPA anyway?
"long /i/ in pie" << This is under "Long vowels", yet there's a diphthong section lower down - speaking of which...
"/oo/ in cook and pull" << Diphthongs!
"/aw/ in jaw and haul" << This long vowel is labelled as a "special sound"! Why not‽ It makes perfect sense!⸮

Thanks for the good laugh anyway.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by Xonen » Sat 11 Mar 2017, 00:17

sangi39 wrote:Not strictly a reform of any kind, but when I have to take notes, I use this:

[snip]
That's pretty impressive, actually. [:O] I don't think I could write in any script other than Latin chicken scratch fast enough to take notes, not to mention a self-made conscript that doesn't even allow simple transliteration from the established orthography.

MoonRightRomantic wrote:The result is a mess that has more in common with Hieroglyphs or Hanzi than alphabets.
False. Haven't we had this discussion before?
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by MrKrov » Sat 11 Mar 2017, 00:34

You did! They just didn't agree with you so it didn't count.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by sangi39 » Sat 11 Mar 2017, 04:10

Xonen wrote:
sangi39 wrote:Not strictly a reform of any kind, but when I have to take notes, I use this:

[snip]
That's pretty impressive, actually. [:O] I don't think I could write in any script other than Latin chicken scratch fast enough to take notes, not to mention a self-made conscript that doesn't even allow simple transliteration from the established orthography.
Thanks. I think the speed aspect of it has just come with practice. I think it was more difficult to use earlier on, since I kind of had to switch from "how is this word spelt" vs. "how does this word sound". I'd struggle with stress shifts a lot, for example, and irregular plurals. Since all plurals are suggest written [ROOT]3, I'd occasionally still write, for example [men]3 rather than [man]3. Similarly, since pronouns are more "abstract" I'd switch between writing them as they sounded vs. the actual notation I had for pronouns.

Either way, I enjoy using it, and playing around with it too. Like joining the individual parts together to form more fluid forms (which is how most of the auxiliary verbs were formed) and you can play around with names and signatures (hell, I even have a separate signature in Cyrillic because I was bored in college [:P])


Xonen wrote:
MoonRightRomantic wrote:The result is a mess that has more in common with Hieroglyphs or Hanzi than alphabets.
False. Haven't we had this discussion before?
HA! You beat me to it with Zompist's page [:)] As he says, he's not arguing that English spelling as it stands now is good but it's not exactly horrific either, and beyond very common words (often one, two or three letters long), the majority of reading errors within his samples came from etymological spellings not indicating stress shifts (the same "issue" occurs in Russian), or which didn't represent clearly whether a vowel was "long" or "short" (but again, due to etymological spelling). However, in the example errors given for this category, there are no words like "pêd@ntîc" and "sänîtë" with which the reader could confuse those readers for and again, as I mentioned in another thread in relation to reading Arabic and Hebrew despite vowels being largely missing from the written language, familiarity with the spoken language aids in reading words correctly. "Reading errors" can be corrected if the reader already knows the spoken word being represented.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by MoonRightRomantic » Mon 13 Mar 2017, 19:37

Xonen wrote:
MoonRightRomantic wrote:The result is a mess that has more in common with Hieroglyphs or Hanzi than alphabets.
False. Haven't we had this discussion before?
All respondents thoroughly shredded your argument and your own source contradicts you. Modern phonics teaches the alphabet as a series of radicals used to build multigraph phonograms. Comparing English orthography to Hanzi or Hieroglyphics is a statement of modern education. Zompist's analysis corroborates this and history, frequency, the Cut Spelling Handbook, Nigerian English academia et al.
OTʜᴇB wrote:A good point, but my counter-argument to the "it's like logographs" point is that it is, but better. We can type our logographs very easily with a keyboard, they at least hint at pronunciation most of the time, and it is fairly equally compatible across all its dialects - it's hanzi on steroids!
This is a false equivalence. Chinese use bopomofo to input hanzi on keyboards, which is used to write all "dialects" (actually completely different languages). Most languages have written forms for cross-dialect communication, which often constitute distinct languages (e.g. Arabic).

English is unique: the US, UK and AU dialects are mutually intelligible to the point that they barely constitute dialects; accents and phonemes are different things. No proposal for reform would make English dialects any more difficult to write than they are now: the current system is inadequate at representing any dialect. If accents don't trip us up in speech then they wouldn't need to be represented in writing except as stage directions like "spoken in Australian/British/American/whatever accent."

The advantage of using real morphograms is that it accurately displays the morphemes and etymology of words, which is usually obscured by spelling and accent. This neatly addresses the common flawed etymology argument against reform.
OTʜᴇB wrote:As for your links, the first is interesting, and I'm tempted to have a go, not for the sake of orthography reform, but because it seems entertaining. As for the second, I can barely take it seriously.
That is, in fact, how English phonics used to be taught and in some cases still is. (Most people do not use IPA unless they study linguistics.) Modern phonics teaches English as a set of phonograms built out of one or more letters of the alphabet, which has been discredited as "alphabetic" and is now treated more like radicals in Chinese. The teaching materials actually make a point to admit the orthography is bad and take pains to explain the historical reasons (which are often laughably absurd, such as printers inserting letters for extra pay or monks substituting letters due to poor handwriting).
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by OTʜᴇB » Mon 13 Mar 2017, 20:38

MoonRightRomantic wrote:English is unique: the US, UK and AU dialects are mutually intelligible to the point that they barely constitute dialects
May I refer you to the fact that there are more "accents" of English in the UK than there are everywhere else combined. If I go up north, it becomes very difficult to understand some people, as this "accent" means that speech and even lexicon differ enough that they are definitely not mutually intelligible - let alone my last trip to Ireland, I could barely understand a word of this "mutually intelligible English" you speak of.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by MoonRightRomantic » Mon 13 Mar 2017, 21:40

OTʜᴇB wrote:
MoonRightRomantic wrote:English is unique: the US, UK and AU dialects are mutually intelligible to the point that they barely constitute dialects
May I refer you to the fact that there are more "accents" of English in the UK than there are everywhere else combined. If I go up north, it becomes very difficult to understand some people, as this "accent" means that speech and even lexicon differ enough that they are definitely not mutually intelligible - let alone my last trip to Ireland, I could barely understand a word of this "mutually intelligible English" you speak of.
You mean Hiberno-English? The written and spoken forms are quite different, so a reform wouldn't make a difference.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by OTʜᴇB » Mon 13 Mar 2017, 21:59

MoonRightRomantic wrote:
OTʜᴇB wrote:
MoonRightRomantic wrote:English is unique: the US, UK and AU dialects are mutually intelligible to the point that they barely constitute dialects
May I refer you to the fact that there are more "accents" of English in the UK than there are everywhere else combined. If I go up north, it becomes very difficult to understand some people, as this "accent" means that speech and even lexicon differ enough that they are definitely not mutually intelligible - let alone my last trip to Ireland, I could barely understand a word of this "mutually intelligible English" you speak of.
You mean Hiberno-English? The written and spoken forms are quite different, so a reform wouldn't make a difference.
It would to all the northern English ones though. You really can't group all the UK accents together, but then distinguish UK and US accents, as the US accent is closer to mine than mine is to say Geordie or Cockney.

Regardless, the fundamental point I'm making is that you are assuming all the English accents or dialects are a lot more similar than they actually are. Not even some UK ones are completely mutually intelligible, let alone sharing all their phonemes closely enough to make a morpheme-based reform valid, let alone an improvement on what we have now.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by Xonen » Tue 14 Mar 2017, 14:23

MoonRightRomantic wrote:
Xonen wrote:
MoonRightRomantic wrote:The result is a mess that has more in common with Hieroglyphs or Hanzi than alphabets.
False. Haven't we had this discussion before?
All respondents thoroughly shredded your argument and your own source contradicts you.
No, that was you. I mean, the evidence is still plainly there, and you're even recycling it almost verbatim (only pretending it applies to me and not yourself). Is this one of those "alternative facts" things that seem to be trending these days? :wat:
MoonRightRomantic wrote:Modern phonics teaches the alphabet as a series of radicals used to build multigraph phonograms. Comparing English orthography to Hanzi or Hieroglyphics is a statement of modern education.
This is an interesting viewpoint, actually; phrased somewhat more diplomatically, I suppose this could have led to some fairly good discussion. However, I fail to see how using multigraph phonograms makes the system resemble Hanzi more than alphabets. Most alphabetic writing systems use those to some degree, while Hanzi... doesn't. It has some phonetic elements, yes, but those only give the reader a vague clue to the pronunciation of a word at best; there's no way to write a set of rules that would even allow a human to predict the pronunciation from writing with any degree of accuracy. The contrast to Zomp's relatively short set of rules that allows 85% accuracy for a (fairly stupid, as he points out) computer program is simply enormous.
MoonRightRomantic wrote:Modern phonics teaches English as a set of phonograms built out of one or more letters of the alphabet, which has been discredited as "alphabetic"
Funnily enough, the phonics site you linked to explicitly says this:
Phonics uses the Alphabetic Principle
So yeah. Careful with whom you accuse of disagreeing with their own sources, at least. :roll:
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by GrandPiano » Tue 14 Mar 2017, 20:05

MoonRightRomantic wrote:This is a false equivalence. Chinese use bopomofo to input hanzi on keyboards, which is used to write all "dialects" (actually completely different languages).
This doesn't really affect your argument, but I think bopomofo is primarily used in Taiwan, while most mainlanders use pinyin.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by MoonRightRomantic » Wed 15 Mar 2017, 20:07

OTʜᴇB wrote:It would to all the northern English ones though. You really can't group all the UK accents together, but then distinguish UK and US accents, as the US accent is closer to mine than mine is to say Geordie or Cockney.

Regardless, the fundamental point I'm making is that you are assuming all the English accents or dialects are a lot more similar than they actually are. Not even some UK ones are completely mutually intelligible, let alone sharing all their phonemes closely enough to make a morpheme-based reform valid, let alone an improvement on what we have now.
Then I apologize for my ignorance. In this case I suppose a comparison to written Chinese or Arabic would be more apt: if I understand correctly these English dialects are completely different languages that sound nothing alike, which communicate through a written form which is effectively a separate language? What factors exactly would make a morphemic script (i.e. non-phonetic pan-language, like Chinese or Arabic) equivalent or inferior to the current orthography? Would a reform like Cut Spelling negatively impact cross-dialectal communication?
Xonen wrote:This is an interesting viewpoint, actually; phrased somewhat more diplomatically, I suppose this could have led to some fairly good discussion. However, I fail to see how using multigraph phonograms makes the system resemble Hanzi more than alphabets. Most alphabetic writing systems use those to some degree, while Hanzi... doesn't. It has some phonetic elements, yes, but those only give the reader a vague clue to the pronunciation of a word at best; there's no way to write a set of rules that would even allow a human to predict the pronunciation from writing with any degree of accuracy. The contrast to Zomp's relatively short set of rules that allows 85% accuracy for a (fairly stupid, as he points out) computer program is simply enormous.
What precisely are you arguing? That English orthography should not be simplified because it has rules? Those "rules" are bizarre and irregular. Zompist was arguing that English orthography has logic behind it, not that it isn't broken. Zompist still argues in favor of reform, going so far as to suggest adopting a hanzi-like script.

I never argued that English was identical to hanzi, only that it is closer (but inferior) to logographic systems than to phonemic systems. English orthography has phonetic hints, semantic hints, unnecessary silent letters and doesn't distinguish between them. It is demonstrably worse than hanzi because hanzi isn't littered with the same pitfalls.

As I have been led to understand, none of this orthographic "logic" applies to UK dialects other than BBC English. The spoken and written forms have diverged to the point of constituting different languages. Arguing that the orthography isn't effectively hieroglyphic a la written Arabic is intellectually dishonest.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by OTʜᴇB » Wed 15 Mar 2017, 20:58

MoonRightRomantic wrote:
OTʜᴇB wrote:It would to all the northern English ones though. You really can't group all the UK accents together, but then distinguish UK and US accents, as the US accent is closer to mine than mine is to say Geordie or Cockney.

Regardless, the fundamental point I'm making is that you are assuming all the English accents or dialects are a lot more similar than they actually are. Not even some UK ones are completely mutually intelligible, let alone sharing all their phonemes closely enough to make a morpheme-based reform valid, let alone an improvement on what we have now.
Then I apologize for my ignorance. In this case I suppose a comparison to written Chinese or Arabic would be more apt: if I understand correctly these English dialects are completely different languages that sound nothing alike, which communicate through a written form which is effectively a separate language? What factors exactly would make a morphemic script (i.e. non-phonetic pan-language, like Chinese or Arabic) equivalent or inferior to the current orthography? Would a reform like Cut Spelling negatively impact cross-dialectal communication?
Xonen wrote:This is an interesting viewpoint, actually; phrased somewhat more diplomatically, I suppose this could have led to some fairly good discussion. However, I fail to see how using multigraph phonograms makes the system resemble Hanzi more than alphabets. Most alphabetic writing systems use those to some degree, while Hanzi... doesn't. It has some phonetic elements, yes, but those only give the reader a vague clue to the pronunciation of a word at best; there's no way to write a set of rules that would even allow a human to predict the pronunciation from writing with any degree of accuracy. The contrast to Zomp's relatively short set of rules that allows 85% accuracy for a (fairly stupid, as he points out) computer program is simply enormous.
What precisely are you arguing? That English orthography should not be simplified because it has rules? Those "rules" are bizarre and irregular. Zompist was arguing that English orthography has logic behind it, not that it isn't broken. Zompist still argues in favor of reform, going so far as to suggest adopting a hanzi-like script.

I never argued that English was identical to hanzi, only that it is closer (but inferior) to logographic systems than to phonemic systems. English orthography has phonetic hints, semantic hints, unnecessary silent letters and doesn't distinguish between them. It is demonstrably worse than hanzi because hanzi isn't littered with the same pitfalls.

As I have been led to understand, none of this orthographic "logic" applies to UK dialects other than BBC English. The spoken and written forms have diverged to the point of constituting different languages. Arguing that the orthography isn't effectively hieroglyphic a la written Arabic is intellectually dishonest.
While Cut Spelling doesn't seem like a bad idea on the face of it, the differing pronunciations between dialects would likely mean far fewer letters would be removed than it is worth. There would be a noticeable difference, but you'd still have 99+% of the letters still there - so why bother?.

English Orthography has these phonetic hints (1 up over Hanzi), semantic hints (2 up over Hanzi), and letters which are silent in most dialects. For example: I pronounce "military" with a silent "a" - Americans don't. I know people that don't pronounce the "tt" in "little", but I do. These types of things occur everywhere, so these silent letters may well be very audible in the speech of others. This is why cut spelling—while it can have benefits—will have a pointlessly minuscule impact. English orthography is definitely better than Hanzi, especially considering it does all these things Hanzi doesn't whilst still working well for very different dialects - not to the extent of Chinese dialects, but very different none-the-less.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by Sumelic » Wed 15 Mar 2017, 21:00

MoonRightRomantic wrote:
Xonen wrote:This is an interesting viewpoint, actually; phrased somewhat more diplomatically, I suppose this could have led to some fairly good discussion. However, I fail to see how using multigraph phonograms makes the system resemble Hanzi more than alphabets. Most alphabetic writing systems use those to some degree, while Hanzi... doesn't. It has some phonetic elements, yes, but those only give the reader a vague clue to the pronunciation of a word at best; there's no way to write a set of rules that would even allow a human to predict the pronunciation from writing with any degree of accuracy. The contrast to Zomp's relatively short set of rules that allows 85% accuracy for a (fairly stupid, as he points out) computer program is simply enormous.
What precisely are you arguing? That English orthography should not be simplified because it has rules? Those "rules" are bizarre and irregular. Zompist was arguing that English orthography has logic behind it, not that it isn't broken. Zompist still argues in favor of reform, going so far as to suggest adopting a hanzi-like script.
...What? Did you interpret the introductory sentence of "Yingzi", "The English spelling system is such a pain, we'd might as well switch to hanzi-- Chinese characters," as a serious proposal? It's pretty clearly a thought experiment (futher down on the page, he says " I've attempted in this sketch to lay out, by analogy, the nature and structure of the Chinese writing system"). I've seen no indication that Zompist is the type of spelling-reform crank that would "suggest adopting a hanzi-like script."
I never argued that English was identical to hanzi, only that it is closer (but inferior) to logographic systems than to phonemic systems. English orthography has phonetic hints, semantic hints, unnecessary silent letters and doesn't distinguish between them. It is demonstrably worse than hanzi because hanzi isn't littered with the same pitfalls.

As I have been led to understand, none of this orthographic "logic" applies to UK dialects other than BBC English. The spoken and written forms have diverged to the point of constituting different languages. Arguing that the orthography isn't effectively hieroglyphic a la written Arabic is intellectually dishonest.
Written Arabic is not hieroglyphic. What do you even mean by "hieroglyphic," and why are you using the word in such an unconventional way? It makes it harder to understand if you actually have any valid arguments.

I'll start by giving my understanding of the term. I would call a writing system "hieroglyphic" if it meets the following criteria:
  • It has a large inventory of indivisible symbols or graphemes (usually more than a thousand). Digraphs are not distinct graphemes.
  • It has a number of graphemes that have a special association with particular content-word morphemes. I say "special association" rather than "unique association" because due to the rebus principle, often "pictographic" hieroglyphs are not in fact uniquely associated with a morpheme, but are also associated with some phonemic content. But hieroglyphic scripts often mark rebus usages differently from pictographic usages; e.g. in Egyptian hieroglyphs there is the vertical line used to mark logograms, and in hanzi phonetic components are often combined with a semantic component to form a new glyph.
  • It has a number of graphical elements (not necessarily independent graphemes, I guess) that indicate meaning in a manner unrelated to the phonology of a word. E.g. Egyptian "determinative" glyphs, hanzi semantic components.
I was trying to think of more, but I guess these are sufficient actually. English and Arabic have nothing like hanzi semantic components. The closest I can even imagine is how word-inital "gh" is used in some "ghostly" words, like "ghastly," "ghoul," but it also occurs in a number of semantically unrelated words like "ghetto," "gherkin."
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by MoonRightRomantic » Wed 15 Mar 2017, 21:48

Sumelic wrote:Written Arabic is not hieroglyphic. What do you even mean by "hieroglyphic," and why are you using the word in such an unconventional way? It makes it harder to understand if you actually have any valid arguments.
You are right. I am being needlessly belligerent due to a misunderstanding and I apologize.

I believe that English orthography is needlessly opaque. There may be a logic behind it, but this logic is needlessly convoluted. English orthography exists somewhere between (or perpendicular to?) phonemic and logographic writing systems, but is inferior to both.

English orthography attempts to perform two separate tasks: preserve etymology and indicate contemporary pronunciation. It does so inadequately, therefore I suggest writing English in two parallel scripts: one set of morphograms that indicates semantics and etymology, and one set of phonograms that indicates a mostly accurate pronunciation.

The broadcast dialects of English are mutually intelligible and would probably benefit from Cut Spelling. Some dialects of English are not mutually intelligible with broadcast dialects and would not benefit from any kind of reform. We will simply have to accept that, like Arabic or Chinese, the written form remains a separate language.

Writing inter-dialectal English as parallel neoglyphi and cut spelling would be more efficient than the current orthography, assuming one is familiar with broadcast dialect.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by OTʜᴇB » Wed 15 Mar 2017, 22:44

I think reform for a subset of dialects will just mean the left out ones will stick with what they've got, and you'll just have even more people getting cheesed off that "you're spelling everything wrong." I can't be the only one that at least twitches when I see a "z" in "romanise" or a missing "l" from "traveller", let alone the worse ones like "armor" or "color" - that I don't get. Surely if those painful spellings were due to reform, they would be spelled "armer" and "culer", as I'm yet to hear anyone anywhere say /kɒlɔ˞/ or something similar, unless when mocking the spelling.

I'd rather have everyone struggle with a few weird rules and exceptions than have 12 groups of people all complaining about each other's horrible spelling - but that's just an opinion.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by MoonRightRomantic » Wed 15 Mar 2017, 23:53

OTʜᴇB wrote:I think reform for a subset of dialects will just mean the left out ones will stick with what they've got, and you'll just have even more people getting cheesed off that "you're spelling everything wrong." I can't be the only one that at least twitches when I see a "z" in "romanise" or a missing "l" from "traveller", let alone the worse ones like "armor" or "color" - that I don't get. Surely if those painful spellings were due to reform, they would be spelled "armer" and "culer", as I'm yet to hear anyone anywhere say /kɒlɔ˞/ or something similar, unless when mocking the spelling.

I'd rather have everyone struggle with a few weird rules and exceptions than have 12 groups of people all complaining about each other's horrible spelling - but that's just an opinion.
It's not a few weird rules and exceptions, it's a huge amount that makes reading unpleasant to learn for children and speakers of other languages. Everybody nowadays uses the spellcheck programmed into their devices. I doubt many bother to remember how to spell beyond primary school.
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by OTʜᴇB » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 11:55

MoonRightRomantic wrote:
OTʜᴇB wrote:I think reform for a subset of dialects will just mean the left out ones will stick with what they've got, and you'll just have even more people getting cheesed off that "you're spelling everything wrong." I can't be the only one that at least twitches when I see a "z" in "romanise" or a missing "l" from "traveller", let alone the worse ones like "armor" or "color" - that I don't get. Surely if those painful spellings were due to reform, they would be spelled "armer" and "culer", as I'm yet to hear anyone anywhere say /kɒlɔ˞/ or something similar, unless when mocking the spelling.

I'd rather have everyone struggle with a few weird rules and exceptions than have 12 groups of people all complaining about each other's horrible spelling - but that's just an opinion.
It's not a few weird rules and exceptions, it's a huge amount that makes reading unpleasant to learn for children and speakers of other languages. Everybody nowadays uses the spellcheck programmed into their devices. I doubt many bother to remember how to spell beyond primary school.
Personally, I don't know anyone that blindly relies on spellcheck. Everyone around me can spell without a checker reasonably well, and a fair amount including me have very good spelling. Therefore I'm naturally sceptical about that point. As for the same spellings making different sounds, I'm not surprised one bit. We have more sounds than spellings, and while reform on the consonants could work a bit, reform on vowels is simply impossible without cheesing off half the dialects - and if there must be reform, it cannot split up dialects anymore than they are already, what with English being such a global language.
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GrandPiano
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by GrandPiano » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 16:44

OTʜᴇB wrote:English Orthography has these phonetic hints (1 up over Hanzi), semantic hints (2 up over Hanzi), and letters which are silent in most dialects.
Hanzi actually does have phonetic and semantic hints, though. In fact, the most common method of character formation is to use two pre-existing characters as components, one hinting at the meanung and one hinting at the pronunciation. For example, the character 指 zhǐ "finger; to point" is made up of 手 shǒu "hand" (reduced to 扌), and 旨 zhǐ "purpose; decree; excellent". 扌 hints at the meaning, while 旨 hints at the pronunciation. Sometimes these hints are somewhat obscured by sound change and semantic shift, but phonetic and semantic hints are still definitely very prevalent in hanzi.
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OTʜᴇB
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Re: English Orthography Reform

Post by OTʜᴇB » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 16:51

GrandPiano wrote:
OTʜᴇB wrote:English Orthography has these phonetic hints (1 up over Hanzi), semantic hints (2 up over Hanzi), and letters which are silent in most dialects.
Hanzi actually does have phonetic and semantic hints, though. In fact, the most common method of character formation is to use two pre-existing characters as components, one hinting at the meanung and one hinting at the pronunciation. For example, the character 指 zhǐ "finger; to point" is made up of 手 shǒu "hand" (reduced to 扌), and 旨 zhǐ "purpose; decree; excellent". 扌 hints at the meaning, while 旨 hints at the pronunciation. Sometimes these hints are somewhat obscured by sound change and semantic shift, but phonetic and semantic hints are still definitely very prevalent in hanzi.
Interesting, but only 26 symbols are needed for the hints in English, where there are far more in Hanzi, meaning that—while the hint may be better—you only get the hint once you're good enough to have less use with the hint.
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