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#179606 - 10/14/08 10:34 PM Phonetic spelling?
Timportance Offline
stranger

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1
Loc: Ottawa, Ontario
I was reading yesterday's "A-Word-A-Day." It discussed Noah Webster's efforts to simplify American English, spelling "colour" as "color" and so forth. I had heard of such things before and I remember thinking at the time that it seemed to be a very sensible idea—especially as one who has suffered through school, being taught why there are so many unecessary letters in the word "taught." English is a product of many different languages and our words are fossils of this evolution, using letters that do not always accurately correspond to how the word is pronounced.

Hebrew is written phonetically. If you can read it, you can say it. My study of Hebrew has lead me to really appreciate phonetic spellings.

My question is simply this: Given English's place as the lingua franca of the world, would it be wiser to switch to a phonetic rendering of our words in order to make the language more logical and easier to understand?

Tim

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#179611 - 10/15/08 12:36 AM Re: Phonetic spelling? [Re: Timportance]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
Hebrew is written phonetically.

Not really. Unless it's the Tanakh (with its nikodoth), they leave off the vowels. In this sense, Italian or Spanish are more phonetic than Hebrew. A phonemically-based spelling system for English would be better than what we've got, but it's hardly likely to happen in our lifetime.
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#179612 - 10/15/08 06:11 AM Re: Phonetic spelling? [Re: zmjezhd]
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Language Log discusses this topic in its Mark Liberman post of August 19 of this year, Why isn't English a Bar Mitzvah Language?.

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#179621 - 10/15/08 05:17 PM Re: Phonetic spelling? [Re: Faldage]
olly Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/18/06
Posts: 956
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Phonetics is ok for read'n and write'n but as far as communicating the spoken language is concerned, English, French, German, oh and Aussie, will all be with us for a while.


Edited by olly (10/15/08 05:18 PM)

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#179622 - 10/15/08 08:41 PM Re: Phonetic spelling? [Re: olly]
The Pook Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1067
Loc: Tasmania
 Originally Posted By: olly
Phonetics is ok for read'n and write'n but as far as communicating the spoken language is concerned, English, French, German, oh and Aussie, will all be with us for a while.

Too right, strewth mate and stone the crows!

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#179624 - 10/16/08 01:15 AM Re: Phonetic spelling? [Re: The Pook]
Zed Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/27/02
Posts: 2154
Loc: British Columbia, Canada
It is a logical, sensible idea Tim. Which is why I agree with zmjezhd - it won't happen in our lifetime.

(oops my cynicism dial needs to be turned down again)

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#180841 - 12/11/08 11:29 AM Re: Phonetic spelling? [Re: Zed]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6508
Loc: Land of the Flat Water
I am in agreement: won't happen in our lifetime. And one might wonder when Spanish will be the 'lingua franca' of our world.
It certainly is becoming such in the USA. As a high school teacher I wish it would have been. Always took off for spelling, probably went through thousands of red pens.
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#180842 - 12/11/08 11:30 AM Re: Phonetic spelling? [Re: LukeJavan8]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6508
Loc: Land of the Flat Water
Speaking of useless letters in 'taught'
I am told there are 9 pronunciations of the letters 'ough' in English, e.g., cough, though, doughty. Anyone know all nine?
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#180848 - 12/11/08 12:50 PM Re: Phonetic spelling? [Re: LukeJavan8]
tsuwm Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10523
Loc: this too shall pass
Originally Posted By: LukeJavan8
Speaking of useless letters in 'taught'
I am told there are 9 pronunciations of the letters 'ough' in English, e.g., cough, though, doughty. Anyone know all nine?


nahbut, here are ten according to wikipedia: link

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#180867 - 12/11/08 05:27 PM Re: Phonetic spelling? [Re: tsuwm]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6508
Loc: Land of the Flat Water
Thanks tsuwm:
I really appreciate it. You folks sure do know how to find things. And quickly. I knew there were a bunch and someone told me nine, but Wiki had ten.
Now it goes into my "little black book of useless things to talk about a cocktail parties", and just in time too.
Seriously: I am very appreciative.
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