Seven spelling reform principles to improve standard spelling
For experiment and research for a mor user-frendly English
2. Without the 7th rule, after the change-over
Everyone sudenly burst out singing
And I was fild with such delight
As prisond birds must fìnd in freedom
Winging wìldly acros the whìt
Orcherds and dark green fèlds,
On - on - and out of sight. (Sassoon)
And I was fild with such delìt
As prisond birds must fìnd in freedom
Winging wìldly acros the whìt
Orcherds and dark grèn fèlds ,
On - on - and out of sìt. (Sassoon)
I went bak in Tìm three hundred years and found mìself in an unknòn land. When I stepd out of mi flìing teacup, I saw a wurld that was squair, not round.
I had landed in a flat dip. I was not àbl to look around in a sircl, becaus the horìzon had four corners, and from corner to corner, north to east, east to south, south to west and west to north, the skì ròz up lìk a blu thèatr bakdrop, and on top of the four sìds was a blu lid. The ground towords each sìd strechd for kilometers beyond mesùring - at least room for one cuntry and posibly several.
I coverd mi bràv teacup with an invisibility-tarpaulin, and markd the entrans with a stik. Then I took mi gear, slung it around mi ray-proof tùnic, and set out to look around. I clìmd the grassy clif around the dip with causion, but I could hear nothing but bees huming.
From the top, I cud see ahed what lookd lìk a hòmsted, màd of som green substans. A mùving object was hanging up what lookd lìk handwoshing on what lookd lìk a ròtery clòths-hoist. The woshing consisted mòstly of strips of what lookd lìk velcro, but som of it was recognìsabl as garments of som sort. The person - femàl - I had somhow asùmd it wud be - lookd harmless, so I mùved a fù steps forword and calld jently.
She turnd her hed, not alarmd, and saw me. She was stil not alarmd, èven then. "What be ther?" she calld.
Wel, this was English. Wher on what erth was I? I sed, "Hulò,"
She sed, "How be u?" and I mùved forword. She lookd at me whìl I lookd at her.
"U hav com from som strànj plàs," she sed, as a stàtement, not a qestion.
"What plàs is this?" I sed.
She only sed, "Com then," and invìted me insìd the hòmsted.
In the next episòd, I fìnd I had not mùved bakword in Tìm. I had mùved sìdways in a brethtàking swerv that avoided Tìm altogether.
On the borders of the Survìving Land, Hords gather in the man-màd dezerts. Thay liv on protèns manufactuùrd from roks bi fast-traking the food chàn, from lìkens thru to beef catl, and thay drink wauter that is reconstitùted from hìdrojen and oxijen.
Wil the Hords tàk òver the jentl land of Sustànea? Wil the Gràt Compùter Player tìr of woching hapyness and press another buton?
Dòn't mis the next exìting episòd the next tìm u travel in tìm.
Yay, fìnd out whether English speling has yet been imprùvd.
Is a mor ùser-frendly English speling feasabl at last?
Publishd reserch from all direcsions is now confurming the long-obsurvd fact that English speling is a sosial handicap. Long-held asumpsions about its virtùs and the imposibility of chànj ar bèing chalenjd. The rìting sistems of mòst other modern languajes hav had màjor or mìnor imprùvments in the past 150 years. Public rediness for chànj is demonstràted bi the popùlarity of radical spellngs in mòbil fòn text mesajes. It is tìm for an Internasional English Speling Comission, and academic R & D into maximìsing the advantajes of present English speling and remùving its disadvantajes, to beter sùt the needs and abilitys of all ùsers and lerners, whìl remaining bakwords-compatabl with present speling.
The folòing seven prinsipls to meet thès objectivs hav been developd òver therty years of experiment and investigàsion. Thay go beyond the convensional ìdea of speling reform, becaus thay result in a predictabl speling sistem that represents the English languaj, which is mor than just its spòken sounds.
1. THE ALFABETIC PRINSIPL OF RELÀTING SPEECH TO LETERS. Formal speech as in public speeches, without the degree of slering in conversàsion, is represented with braudband fònèms. That is, spellng is regarded as a conventionalìsd representation lìk a lìn drawing, not a precision fòtograf of a particular dìalect. This solves the continuing reformers' controversies of how to represent the different ways pepl speak English.
2 SYMBOLS TO REPRESENT SOUNDS SET OUT IN A SIMPLE AND CONSISTENT TABLE.
Others may devìz different sets of relationships, but I would propòz:
i) Màk consistent the present spelling patterns for vowels ending words. This visually clarifies word structure and màks words more distinctiv.
ii) Màk consistent the present bàsic spellings of a e i o u for the prìmary English vowels as in BAT BET BIT NOT BUT, rather than Continental values, for many reasons, including international visual recognisability of shared vocabùlary, backwards compatibility with tradspelling, the special linguistic relationship of 'long' and 'short' vowels in English vocabùlary, and the argùments of the 'Chomsky' thesis for the visibl representàtion of underlìing structur. The gràt problem in English spelling, the 'nàm-vowels' that ar pronounced like A E I O U, is then solvd by a discreet grav acsent as in à è ì ò ùwhen needed for clarification. Text for learners would thus inclùde mor diacritics than would adult text. See examples belò. This simple 'streamlìning' also avoids the clumsy tactic of 'sìlent e' and vowel digrafs, which are increasingly unpopùlar. The strategy is becoming more tecnically feasible, inclùding for electronic transimission, as keyboards can be more custom-adapted for dìacriticised letters.
3. Spelling represents the particùlar language, which is more than just its speech sounds. Tradspel represents grammar in ways congenial to how children natùrally make linguistic generalìsations in learning spòken languaj. This strategy can now be applìd consistently, with -s and -es endings for plurals and verb endings, and -d, -ed, for participls, without needing fònemic distinctions.
4. Units of meaning (morfemes) are not chànjd in spelling regardless of affixes. This continùity of appearance can enhance fast recognition of meaning and fast reading. (The ùse of accented letters a e i o u for 'nàm' vowels also promotes stàbl appearance for morfemes across word familys, as in NÀSION/NASIONAL
5. Words that sound the sàme need ònly be differentiàted in spelling if this is pruven to be needed to avoid confùsion. This may possibly apply to ònly three pairs, eg (in present spelling) too/to/two, for/fore/four know/no. We ùsually have no problem in reading text with other words spelled the sàme, - for example, in the last three paragrafs, hòmonims hav inclùded REPRESENTS PARTICULAR LANGUAGE JUST SPEECH SOUNDS CAN DISTINCTIONS UNITS CHANGED FAST LETTERS PROMOTES STABLE SOUND PRESENT TEXT LAST.
6. A TRANSITIONAL PRINCIPLE to make it as easy as possible for readers and lerners to read and rìt in both the nù spelling and the òld. Accept as 'sìt words' around 31 very common irregùlarly spelled words: - ALL ALMOST ALWAYS AMONG COM SOM COULD SHOULD WOULD HALF KNO OF OFF ONE ONLY ONCE OTHER PULL PUSH PUT AS WAS WHAT WANT WHO WHY, plus 'WH' and internationally-known word endings -ION/-TION/-SION plus -ZION. These 31 words/morfemes make up around 10% of texts sampld, and significantly affect their òverall appearance. To retain these spellings temporarily avoids trauma for present readers, and is no great problem for learners, presented to them as a very fù 'special càses' from the general expectation of consistency.
7. A FURTHER LIST OF TRANSITOANL SPELLINGS FOR READING ONLY are a temporary concession to present readers and current text. Vowel spelling patterns AI, EA, EE, IGH, OA, EW, IR,and dubld consonants may be retaind in wurds that currently show these spellings, each to be read one way ònly. Rìters need not ùse them, so they reqìr recognition ònly and not the harder task of recall.
8. Texts for child and international English learners can contain more clùs than ar needed for competent readers (cf modern Hebrew)- for exampl, dubld letters or acùte accents can indicàt unpredictabl stress posisions in wurds when this is desìrabl, and some expedient such as 'c' or 'ss' may be needed to distinguish final /s/ in nouns from plùrals and tenses.
How does this look in practice? What sort of retraining would present readers need? No training? Fìv minuts?
Spelling is a marvellous Social Invention, but it can fossilise. English spelling could be improved to maximise its advantages and stop its disadvantages. Consider the following ten principles that take into account the abilities and needs of all presently literate as well as learners who have such difficulties now.
1. Cut out surplus letters as in ACOMODATE, DELICAT, DISIPLIN, GARDIAN, FORIN
2. Retain 30 irregular spellings for very common words such as
3. Represent formal unslurred speech, conventionalìsed so that it is international.
4. Consistent spellings for consonants.
5. Consistent spellings for vowels,
including present spelling patterns for vowels that end words,
and unintrùsive grave accents for the long vowels that are spoken like the vowel nàmes A E I O U. Technology now màkes this possible and it would solve the major problem in reforming English spelling.
6. Continue to represent grammar, with -s/es and -d/ed plural and tense word endings.
7. Stability for morphemes - units of meaning - as in PLAYING BÀBYS.
8. Standardised spelling for print but more latitude for informal writers.
9. Spelling distinctions only for those very few homophones found to risk confusion.
10. Experiment - on the Web, in personal use, in psychological and
and with alternative spellings and pronunciation guides in dictionaries.
Think through the spellings in this article and see how this is so.
Now let's try these out. What seems sensible to you, and what is not?
- - - - - -
Sounds may be blurred – e.g. r = ar. er. ir,or ur.
Some letters may have more than one pronunciation, but this standardization reduces the present chaos of SMS texting, while remaining close to it.
(sm ltrs ma hv mor thn 1 prnunsiashn bt ths stndrdizashn rduses th prsnt caos)
b + be
k + el
d + th
f + if
g + eg
j = ej
k = ek
l + el
m + em
n + en, ing
p = ep
r + are, er
s + es
t + to
v + ev, of
x (= ks) eks
y + yes,
z + as, ez
a + A, er
e + E
o + O
u + you
1 + won
2 + too,to
4 + for
8 + ate
ya = your
The Star (H G Wells) 556 caractrs in traditional spelling. 114 words is taken to make comparison with other scemes, because it is a set piece in PVs of difrent scemes.
My version is 409 caracters not counting spaces
It ws n d lst da v d nu yer dt d anounsmnt ws mad, almst smltaneusi frm dre obsrvtris, dt d moshn f d planet nptun, d outrmost f al d planets dat wel about d sun, hd bcm vri eratik.
A rtrdashn n its velositi hd ben suspektd n Dsmbr. Dn a fant, rmot spek f lIt ws dscvrd n d rejn f d pturbd planet.
At 1st ds did not kauz eni grat exItmnt. SIentifik pepl, howevr, found d intelijns rmrkabl enuf evn bfor it bkam non dt d nu bodi ws rpidli groin larjr n brItr, n dat its moshn ws qIt difrnt frm d ordrli progres f d planets.
It is closer still to pronunciation if long vowels are in upper case or with diacritics.
It ws n d lst dA v d nu yEr dt d anounsmnt ws mAd, almst smltaneusi frm drE obsrvtris, dt d mOshn f d planet Nptun, d outrmOst f al d planets dat wEl about d sun, hd bcm vri eratik. A rtrdAshn n its velositi hd bEn suspektd n Dsmbr. Dn a fAnt, rmOt spek f lIt ws dscvrd n d rEjn f d pturbd planet. At 1st ds did not kauz eni grAt exItmnt. SIentifik pEpl, howevr, found d intelijns rmrkabl enuf evn bfor it bkAm nOn dt d nu bodi ws rpidli grOin larjr n brItr, n dat its mOshn ws qIt difrnt frm d ordrli prOgres f d planets.
Speling is a marvelus Sosial Invension but it can fosilìz. English speling could be imprùvd in ways that maximìz its advantajes and remùv its disadvantajes.
Consider the folòing 10 prinsipls that tàk intu acount the abilitys and nèds of all presently literat as wel as lerners who hav such dificultys now.
For discussion of reserch, testing, implementing and FAQs see http://www.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/spelling.htm. and further links
such as Taking Ockham's Razor to English speling
also on the ABC Science Unit's Ockham's Razor website
But enyone can start now - for exampl, cut out surplus leters in werds.
A lojical speling sistem can help lerners to think lojicaly.
Think thru the spelings in this articl and see how this is so.
There may be one or two spelling prinsipls that u would like to try out yourself