English: Dumb It Down!

12:20 PM -- The language dumbers persist, according to this hearty perennial story from the AP via boston.com
    It's been 100 years since Andrew Carnegie helped create the Simplified Spelling Board to promote a retooling of written English and President Theodore Roosevelt tried to force the government to use simplified spelling in its publications. But advocates aren't giving up.

    They even picket the national spelling bee finals, held every year in Washington, costumed as bumble bees and hoisting signs that say "Enuf is enuf but enough is too much" or "I'm thru with through..."

    "It's a very difficult thing to get something accepted like this," says Alan Mole, president of the American Literacy Council
    [no irony intended], which favors an end to "illogical spelling." The group says English has 42 sounds spelled in a bewildering 400 ways.
400! Wow! That is bewildering! Head exploding...

What the hey. We've got our share of simplified spellers here on the message boards, but they don't put on airs about it.

— Lary, Atak Munky, Lite Reeding

Stevery 12/5/2012 | 3:49:40 AM
re: English: Dumb It Down! I can only quote my favorite authority on the subject:

Excerpt of 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.
sfwriter 12/5/2012 | 3:49:34 AM
re: English: Dumb It Down! Maybe Alan Mole just needs to write a dictionary. In the 1830s, Noah Webster was a fan of simplified spelling and he Americanized words he felt were too English, such as centre and theatre. He felt the English writing system compromised the alphabet.
Michael Poole 12/5/2012 | 3:49:34 AM
re: English: Dumb It Down! Mark Twain was it? I guess it just had to be. A joker he may have been, but he was at least a thinking joker, so I its being him stamps it with some mark (sorry!) of respectability.

I will take issue with Mr Clemens on just one point. It would be better to reverse his use for "x" and "y". There are already plenty of instances of "x" being used around the world for things like our "sh" sound, and "y" has long been used incorrectly in English instead of the old runic "thorn", as in "Ye Olde Tea Shoppe", in which the "y" should be pronounced as "th". That way, we retain more familiarity.

Interestingly, his proposed spellings are not too illegible, so obviously would easily be learnt. They would also get rid of the transatlantic spelling dichotomy, without falling into the dialect trap that hit England's Initial Teaching Alphabet, which has to have two versions, one for the north and the other for the south (the kids read the "wrong" one correctly, but then can't understand the words because they sound too unfamiliar).

The purists would hate it, but if the Norwegians can get away with spelling the Latin "station" as "stasjon", we could certainly get away with spelling it as "staxon".

As for English compromising the alphabet, it has to, as it's not Latin or a direct derivative thereof.

Hei Munki! Iu pikt a gud wun xis taim!

Larry, Monkey 12/5/2012 | 3:49:33 AM
re: English: Dumb It Down! Everybody sing along:

Why don't you come to your senses?

Twain was much funnier on the German language:


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