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#179606 10/15/08 02:34 AM
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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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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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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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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.

Last edited by olly; 10/15/08 09:18 PM.
olly #179622 10/16/08 12:41 AM
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 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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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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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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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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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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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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While we are at it, and you seem very adept, tsuwm, how do you get things into that box, like the quote of my question in your reply above. (I am really new to computer use and need all the help I can get.)


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Originally Posted By: LukeJavan8
While we are at it, and you seem very adept, tsuwm, how do you get things into that box, like the quote of my question in your reply above. (I am really new to computer use and need all the help I can get.)


see that Quote button at the bottom of this post? click it!

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I clicked it as you said,
and now am clicking the quote button at the top of this page

Quote:
IT WORKED




thank you very much: I presume it is the quote box at the top
of the page on this 'posting form' that I am to use, yes?


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Originally Posted By: LukeJavan8
I clicked it as you said,
and now am clicking the quote button at the top of this page

Quote:
IT WORKED




thank you very much: I presume it is the quote box at the top
of the page on this 'posting form' that I am to use, yes?


well, it depends on what you want. clicking the one at top gets you a QUOTE box, as opposed to clicking the one within a post, as I did here, which get you a box quoting the actual poster I'm replying to (i.e., you).

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OK
I'll bite: how do you get it to
l) say the part where you have "originally posted by.....)?
2) get that box within a box.


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<sigh>
go back to my post that has "that box within a box."
click on the Quote button within that post.
enter your reply and submit. (the quoted matter is now long enough that you have a "scroll bar" on the right side of the edit box. use that to scroll down to the end of the quotes; i.e., until you see the flashing insertion point. that's where you want to type in your reply.)

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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?

off, as in cough
oh, as in though
ow, as in slough or plough
uff, as in enough or tough or slough (2)
oo, as in through
aw, as in nought or bought or brought
uh, as in borough
the schwa sound (phonetic upside down e) as in thoroughly

That's only eight I can think of without looking it up.

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Originally Posted By: The Pook

uh, as in borough


maybe with an accent, burruh? buroh for me.


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Originally Posted By: etaoin
Originally Posted By: The Pook

uh, as in borough


maybe with an accent, burruh? buroh for me.

Of course, you don't have an accent. Everyone else does, but not you.

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Of course, you don't have an accent. Everyone else does, but not you.

As far as I can tell, everyone here has the same accent as me.
Which is not necccesssarilly a good thing.

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Originally Posted By: Faldage
Originally Posted By: etaoin
Originally Posted By: The Pook

uh, as in borough


maybe with an accent, burruh? buroh for me.

Of course, you don't have an accent. Everyone else does, but not you.


That's uh as in the sound of the 'a' in loofa.

You say boo-roh? (is that what buroh means?). In the singular I could sometimes say buh-roh, but in the plural, as in 'the rotten boroughs' I would say burras, not buh-rohs.

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no, it's the ough we're talking about, not the bur (it's in bold to show it gets the accent). I don't say ruh (or ras), I say roh. or rohs.


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Originally Posted By: Faldage
Originally Posted By: etaoin
Originally Posted By: The Pook

uh, as in borough


maybe with an accent, burruh? buroh for me.

Of course, you don't have an accent. Everyone else does, but not you.


I knew that.


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Originally Posted By: tsuwm
Originally Posted By: LukeJavan8
I clicked it as you said,
Quote:

and now am clicking the quote button at the top of this page

Quote:
IT WORKED




thank you very much: I presume it is the quote box at the top
of the page on this 'posting form' that I am to use, yes?

well, it depends on what you want. clicking the one at top gets you a QUOTE box, as opposed to clicking the one within a post, as I did here, which get you a box quoting the actual poster I'm replying to (i.e., you).


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Quote:

tsuwm: I think I am getting the hang of it, as per above.
It will take some doing.
Quote:
l at the top gets a quote box
2 within the post quoting the quoter or poster.


Thanks much, very grateful

Last edited by LukeJavan8; 12/19/08 06:37 PM.

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Luke> thank you very much: I presume it is the quote box at the top
of the page on this 'posting form' that I am to use, yes?

there's no way I can answer that without displaying my inborn omniscience. you do see the difference in the two choices, right? and do you think there may be instances when you might choose one over the other?!

-joe (sometimes I just don't *get it) friday


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Yes I do see what you are saying, and before you responded, and
thanks for that too, I made changes trying to use what you told me and learned something else, "How to make change in Posting"
of which I was unaware.
I realize I can be a Little Brother, or Big Bother, but
I am very appreciative.


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By the way I loved Joe Friday.


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here slough rhymes with through as in threw
(or with tough as has been mentioned enough.)

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Originally Posted By: Zed
here slough rhymes with through as in threw
(or with tough as has been mentioned enough)

Depends on the meaning. Which slough is that?
Slough (rhymes with plow) is a noun meaning a swamp, as in Bunyan's 'Slough of Despond' in Pilgrim's Progress. In some dialects it is possibly pronounced 'sloe' or 'sloff'?
Slough (sluff) is a verb for what a snake does with unwanted skin. It can possibly also be 'sloff' to some?
What's the Slough you promounce slew (rhymes with through)?

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Our slough (slew) is the half pond half swampy kind. There are two on my uncle's farm that keep the cattle watered but he has to plow around them.

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AHD gives both pronunciations offered here for the swamp definition.

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slough rhymes with plow? huh. never heard that.


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slough rhymes with plow? huh. never heard that.

The UK (and original) version of The Office takes place in Slough (rhymes with plough). It's a city near Windsor and close by to Maidenhead. The UK poet, John Betjeman, wrote a poem about Slough (link).


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To plough through a slough near Slough (except when the borough were in drought) would be rough and tough, and make you cough "enough!" before you were brought to nought.

Ah the delightful stupidity of English!

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For years I read old English novels and assumed that we had drafts and they had drots (draughts) and our criminals here went to jail while theirs went to gole (gaol). So much for that wonder literacy talent of sounding out.

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Originally Posted By: Zed
So much for that wonder literacy talent of sounding out.


Hukkt ahn fahnix.

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Here in the Northern Plains, a channel of water runoff, similar
to a canal, can be called a slough.


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Originally Posted By: LukeJavan8


Here in the Northern Plains, a channel of water runoff, similar
to a canal, can be called a slough.

...and that'd be pronounced ...?

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... and that'd be pronounced ...?

I've only heard the /slu/ pronunciation used in the States.


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Originally Posted By: The Pook
Originally Posted By: LukeJavan8


Here in the Northern Plains, a channel of water runoff, similar
to a canal, can be called a slough.

...and that'd be pronounced ...?


Yes, it is slu .


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Originally Posted By: LukeJavan8


Here in the Northern Plains, a channel of water runoff, similar
to a canal, can be called a slough.

Here we would perhaps call that a 'sluice' (rhymes with juice). Maybe where you are it is a corruption of sluice rather than coming from the word for a marshy bog, slough, by dropping off the sibilant sound from the end? (More often though we would call such a thing an irrigation canal or table drain, or race (if associated with mining)).

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Maybe where you are it is a corruption of sluice rather than coming from the word for a marshy bog, slough, by dropping off the sibilant sound from the end?

I doubt it. The dictionaries don't agree with you. There are many sloughs in California mainly in the delta region (link and link).


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Quote:
i]Maybe where you are it is a corruption of sluice rather than coming from the word for a marshy bog, slough, by dropping off the sibilant sound from the end?[/i]

I doubt it. The dictionaries don't agree with you. There are many sloughs in California mainly in the delta region ([url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slough_(wetland)]link
Thanks for the links, especially the one with the fantastic picture of the
Stockton Slough. The slough's here are also named, and, while not as large
as the pictured one, some carry small boats from one place to another.
And my dictionary agrees with you, but I am yet to check on-line ones.
Again thanks for the picture: really good.

Last edited by LukeJavan8; 12/29/08 04:58 PM.

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I have not read all the posts in this thread so I may be speaking out of turn. However, I am surprised that no one threw this at the group: GHOUGHPHTHEIGHTTEEAU

What does that spell phonetically?

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Originally Posted By: PastorVon
I have not read all the posts in this thread so I may be speaking out of turn. However, I am surprised that no one threw this at the group: GHOUGHPHTHEIGHTTEEAU

What does that spell phonetically?


It spells POTATO.

Here is the break down:

GH OUGH PHTH EIGH TTE EAU

If GH stands for P as in Hiccough
If OUGH stands for O as in Dough
If PHTH stands for T as in Phthisis
If EIGH stands for A as in Neighbour
If TTE stands for T as in Gazette
If EAU stands for O as in Plateau

Vaughn Hathaway

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Originally Posted By: zmjezhd
... and that'd be pronounced ...?

I've only heard the /slu/ pronunciation used in the States.


I grew up in the central Mississippi River valley in southern Illinois. The Mississippi has many such sloughs (slu). Some are dead-ended; others are like linked ponds. In the 1840s and 1850s a series of large floods changed the channel of the Mississippi south of present-day Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, north of present-day Chester, Illinois. Prior to the 1840s, what is today Kaskaskia Island was a somewhat long peninsula of land between the Mississippi on the west and the Kaskaskia or Okaw River on the east. Following the floods, the Mississippi cut across the peninsula and took over the channel of the Okaw forming two very large 90 degree turns. Separating today's Kaskaskia Island which is still a part of Illinois from the State of Missouri is a series of sloughs (slu-s), nearly all of which are navigable with small craft.

By the way, a famous English novel includes a slough in its narrative, the Slough of Despond. I don't know if Bunyan pronounced it slu or sluff. The novel is *Pilgrim's Progress* and the author was John Bunyan.

Vaughn Hathaway

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>I don't know if Bunyan pronounced it slu or sluff.

I don't know how Bunyan pronounced it either (or either), seeing as hough how Bunyan is still dead; but the OED pronounces it slow (rhymes with bough), sloo only as a dialect form, and refers to slew as a US or Canada spelling/pronunciation.

They drew near to a very Miry Slough... The name of the Slow was Dispond. - Bunyan (1678) [OED2]

NB: regarding the variable spellings in Bunyan - link

-joe (flat foot floogie with a floy-floy) friday

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Originally Posted By: PastorVon
By the way, a famous English novel includes a slough in its narrative, the Slough of Despond. I don't know if Bunyan pronounced it slu or sluff. The novel is *Pilgrim's Progress* and the author was John Bunyan.

Yes I did mention it above I believe. Bunyan probably pronounced it to rhyme with cow. Slew (IPA slu) seems to be dialectical North American for a canal. The English bog is a (IPA) slau.

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Originally Posted By: PastorVon

If GH stands for P as in Hiccough


Only those poor misguided folks at Lake Superior State University would spell hiccup like that.

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Quote:
Originally Posted By: PastorVon
Originally Posted By: PastorVon
I have not read all the posts in this thread so I may be speaking out of turn. However, I am surprised that no one threw this at the group: GHOUGHPHTHEIGHTTEEAU

What does that spell phonetically?


It spells POTATO.

Here is the break down:

GH OUGH PHTH EIGH TTE EAU

If GH stands for P as in Hiccough
If OUGH stands for O as in Dough
If PHTH stands for T as in Phthisis
If EIGH stands for A as in Neighbour
If TTE stands for T as in Gazette
If EAU stands for O as in Plateau

Vaughn Hathaway



WOW. I had not visited this post in awhile, so missed this. Wish I was still
teaching would use it as a test or homework assignment.


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Originally Posted By: PastorVon
Originally Posted By: PastorVon
GHOUGHPHTHEIGHTTEEAU

What does that spell phonetically?

It spells POTATO.

Here is the break down:

GH OUGH PHTH EIGH TTE EAU

If GH stands for P as in Hiccough
If OUGH stands for O as in Dough
If PHTH stands for T as in Phthisis
If EIGH stands for A as in Neighbour
If TTE stands for T as in Gazette
If EAU stands for O as in Plateau

Vaughn Hathaway

Alternatively, it spells FORTY-TWO (the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything):

GH OUGH PHTH EIGH TTE EAU

If GH stands for F as in Enough
If OUGH stands for OR* as in Ought
If PHTH stands for T as in Phthisis
If EIGH stands for Y as in Leigh
If TTE stands for T as in Gazette
If EAU stands for WO (OO) as in Beautiful**

*Southern British pronunciation
** Regional British pronunciation ("bootiful")

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now that's linguistic yoga if I ever saw it!

laugh


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It's no wonder so many have difficulty with English.


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Yes,I agreed according to Wikipedia they are ten.Thanks for sharing link.I visit this and find some good information.

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