What If English Was Spelled Phonetically?

Can you read this?

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.

14 Comments

Filed under English language, Linguistics

14 responses to “What If English Was Spelled Phonetically?

  1. James Schipper

    Dear Robert

    English spelling has departed so much from being phonetic that making it completely phonetic would be undesirable because the discrepancy between the new phonetic spelling and the traditional one would be too vast. Spelling reform should concentrate on consonants because each vowel can be pronounced in so many ways.

    Here are some commonsense proposals for simplifying English spelling:

    1 – Ph will be replaced by f. (only 3 languages with a Latin alphabet still use the ph: English, French and German) Examples: filosofy, geografy.

    2 – Replace the ch pronounced as a k by c, unless it is followed by e or i. Examples: caracter, coreografy.

    3 – Eliminate all double consonants followed by another consonant. Examples: agression, aproval, adress.

    4 – Eliminate all silent consonants inside or at the end of a word. Examples: rein, dauter, dum, lam, retoric, receit, wite, sience, acend, dout, dou. Igh pronounced as in light will be retained.

    5 Le or re at the end of a word will be replaced by el or er, except in cre or cle, to insure that the c will be pronounced as a k. Examples: huddel, turtel, acre, center, specter, popsicle, exampel.

    6 – Replace y inside a word with i. Examples: psicology, fisics, sistem, simbol, tipical, rime, silabel, mistery.

    7 – Eliminate all double consonants, except double ss at the end or in the middle of a word if it is pronounced s, or ll in all if it rhymes with small. Double consonants before the suffixes ed, ing, y and er will be retained if the syllable preceding them is stressed and contains a short vowel. Examples: grabbed, letting, funny, bigger, kiss, small, acuse, balot, posess, pur, stif, stuf, fil, wel, mamal, ocupy, diferent, colision, comission, sugestion.

    The above simpel and straitforward proposals woud go a long way in simplifying English spelling. It is a mistery to me wy nearly all Anglo-Saxons are such rigid conservatives in orthografic maters. All other West European languages have had at least one spelling reform since 1900. Portuguese has had three. I know an English teacher who is a flaming leftist. Wen I sugested to her once that English spelling needed a major overhaul, she allmost fisically atacked me. Wat baffels me is that English-speakers hardly ever give a reason wy a word is spelled as it is. They just say that it is spelled this way, and you shoudn’t be stuborn about it. It is mindless traditionalism.

    Regards. James

  2. SHI

    that’s precisely how the younger generation text each other.

  3. Stary Wylk

    James, I disagree with some of your particulars, but some sort of reform would be good. “Y” is so often pronounced “eye” often enough that we’d have an easier time just not using it any other way. “C” used for “ch” only would be readily understandable and doubled consonants often indicate they’re pronounced twice.

    For English, we need more letters.

  4. Ed

    There are two problems with proposals to reform English spelling. The first is that everything about the language except the spelling makes it remarkably easy to learn and use, and it’s gained a wide currency. English has an unusually strong brand, compared for example to Portuguese. The second is that the spelling really is really bad.

    Taken together, this means that any spelling reform would leave English sentences literally unrecognizable, because they would change too much, and the current form is used very widely. It’s the Qwerty problem on steroids.

    I’ve noticed that my computer has been correcting my spelling as I type this. If I was dictator of the English speaking world, spelling reform would be a very low priority.

  5. ,!

    Robert, could you also delete the above? The computer also automatically changed my tag name into an email address, which I would prefer not to release to the general public.

  6. Mike H

    Hell, even a plutocrat like Andrew Carnegie in a a plutocracy like the United States failed to “simplify spelling”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simplified_Spelling_Board

    “The people who want phonetic spelling generally depress the world with tireless and tasteless explanations of how much easier it would be for children or foreign bagmen if ‘height’ were spelt ‘hite’. Now children would curse spelling whatever it was, and we are not going to permit foreign bagmen to improve Shakespeare.” – GK Chesterton

  7. It would be far easier to force Americans into Anglish, that is to say, English as it would have looked liked had William the Conqueror’s invasion of England never taken place. Or better still had The Normans themselves feared more for words of French, Latin and Greeks origin to give ideas of Greek democracy, Roman law and French sensuality to their subjects, than for their own Anglo-Saxon parlance to produce Robin Hoods. And seen in Anglo-Saxon a language having remained closer to their own forebears’ that the French-like one they had been forced to adopt in Normandy proper for political reasons.

    I am now surrounded by people who are so intent on seeing Greece stifled with more economic sanctions, and are so resentful against that country for having given the world the idea of democracy (whatever the efforts I deploy to prove that their accusation to that effect is downright false: no other city than ancient classical Athens did more to vindicate the notions of Heaven-willed human inequality and human powerlessness as well as to make the quest of sheer contempt towards the downtrodden the noblest aim in life of all), that they have asked me, as an amateur linguist, to devise Greekless versions of English, French and other Western languages.

    The World elites seem dead intent on suppressing the very notion of humanism not only as a form of benevolence towards fellow humans but also in the older Renaissance sense of the word meaning open-mindedness through knowledge of classical languages and cultures. To that effect they have tried several times to disfigure etymological orthography in many languages, but the Anglo-Saxon egregor could never be convinced to accept what other European languages submitted to under the pretext of making school learning easier. So the thing to do with English is to bring it back to a purely Barbarian one so to speak, where scientific, political and other specialized terms would derive only from Germanic or Scandinavian roots through Nordic and Indic, not Greek-inspired metaphors, with the exception of a few monosyllables easy to seam into the fabric, such as joke, graph, rate…

    The only rather proximate language I know of to be nearly devoid of Renaissance-inspired terms compounds is Arabic, safe for a few dozens no more of Greek words such as philosophy, democracy, geography that are half-heartedly accepted as temporary linguistic manpower so to speak, more to be humiliated as pariah words denoting concepts that will remain always alien and to be considered as foreign propaganda concepts than to render real communication service, it is the language now closest to the anti-humanistic ideal fostered by the world elites, a language where the higher level of cultural reference always refers to dogma, scripture, and military strategy at the service of predation, never to history or to former cultures of open-mindedness and research, a language where any notion of historical or political consciousness sounds like pollution by foreign intruders.

    Hebrew hasn’t made such a meritorious effort and is half-Western, half-Oriental to the point it is now called an Euromitic language rather than a Semitic one (I rather say an emetic one, for modern Hebrew is downright ugly, vulgar, unwieldy, and unfit for information rendering, it is doomed to become rapidly a modern low-grade Westernized Arabic dialect like Casablanca Moroccan bound to flow into Globish).

    The changes I would bring or bring back to English would be the following.

    First of all, to make back English into a full-fledged Germanic language the passive form with “to be” should get replaced with “to get” as the most correct form, as is more or less the popular tendency. German has the marvelous auxiliary verb “werden”, unfortunately the English cognate “worth” (“wirth”, “werth”) is worn out phonetically, but hadn’t it been for the late Latin style awkward French model with be (for it being ambiguous between perfect and present meaning and therefore less used in conversation for clarity’s sake) it would have been the medio-passive form of get, to git, I gat, which should be reestablished as the most regular form (many ghetto people already use git plus participle to form passives and do form it more frequently that active forms).

    All Latin words such as allusion should be rebuilt for that instance as onplay, and Greek ones such as misogyny should be clearly understood as for that instance bitch-hunting, but forgotten medieval-sounding words should also be introduced to bring to the new language a more lurid and barbaric aspect as is the case with video games. Social class distinctions as there are in Japanese should be implemented, by more regular and stringent rules than nowadays in class-conscious Britain four or five levels of status should be defined for each concept. The ghetto and lower middle class people should be left out more or less with their vulgar parlance provided it be purged from forbidden elements, but the higher classes applying for qualified jobs should be given or imposed the luxury version of the language with a syntax imitated more or less from Icelandic minus the declensions, so as to smack of a perpetual Dungeons and Dragons game.

    The highest version of it together with many terms should be forbidden of use by the lower ranks. Women should also be given a different version of the language, as well as different rules for pronunciation and this can be marketed through feminism before it be too late for these girls when they realize they have closed themselves back into gunaikeions smacking of Old Constantinople.

    Of course I am speaking like some psychopathic nerd who would have been given the job to redesign English like is done with a computer programming language threatened with obsolescence (and also, as a frustrated non-Anglo, with the afterthought of curbing the world-wide imperialistic prevalence of that language through ridiculous and gratuitous ideological impediments, with the most probable practical effect of breaking it for good into one thousand impoverished broken dialects no longer capable of intercommunication and yielding to a more civilized civilization language to come, I just want to give the American Republicans the neuroleptic dosage of obscurantism they need no longer to be able to use Monsanto’s products, I want them to become exactly like Haitian sorcerers in the middle run in the name of Jewish and Aryan racism) not for real.

    It must be noted as you showed it yourself that High German as has been imposed as Germany’s common language is a very artificial and quite recent and very ideological creation, with among others the objective to get the language rid of as many foreign coinages as possible, as if it were to become the new classical language owing nothing to any foreign one. This objective has misfired as since the defeat of 1945 German is being flooded with English importations and with Greek and Latin terms again that come through English. It is time for English itself to embark upon that kind of task, and the German experience that could have been successfully completed had the Nazis won over is the proof that it can work with a sufficiently fanatical regime acting at the behest of corporations dead intent on bringing back obscurantism ans cut everybody, especially the new bailiff class, from the literary works of the free-thinking past.

    • EPGAH

      Arab is indeed without merit, given which groups caused the most human rights abused (and most death) throughout history, but I don’t really like the Ye Olde Abusede Englysh spelling.
      I typed in an old English court judgement, and the bad spelling brought tears to my eyes!
      The court seriously consideringe and maturely weighing the premisses, doe fynde that the saide Mr. Robert Parker most unjustly keepeth the said Negro from Anthony Johnson his master … It is therefore the Judgement of the Court and ordered That the said John Casor Negro forthwith returne unto the service of the said master Anthony Johnson, And that Mr. Robert Parker make payment of all charges in the suit.

      Which videogames do you play that use that?

      And yes, without Monsanto and other Evil Science, we WOULD be the same as witch doctors!

      • Arabic (not the Arab, which is without any merit indeed, at least as regards the Saudi version of it) is, despite the most evil use it has been put to, so as to produce the worst book ever written under the moonlight, is the second most beautiful language on earth, next to classical Greek (the Jews were of that opinion), endowed with the most beautiful script ever devised together with the Bengali one.

  8. Alex

    Wai wud yu yuz “i” in pleis of “y” dho?

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