Fixes

1) NEW SPELLING SYSTEMS

a) Masha Bell's idea
b) Dr. Yule with my twist on it
c) Iezi Ingglish

2) HOW TO SELECT THE BEST NEW SYSTEM?

3) HOW TO FIX THE SYSTEM WITH ALL OF THOSE DIFFERENT DIALECTAL ACCENTS?


1) NEW SPELLING SYSTEMS

When one thinks about it, even the word "English" does not follow a major spelling rule: all sounds (or phonemes) should be represented by a letter or a group of letter! That's right! "English" is misspelled!  It should really be spelled "Ingglish"! It should also be spelled with an "i" like "in". It is the only word in the language where "en" sounds like "in"! Confused? Now, you know how kids feel! How, you, may have felt when you were trying to learn English?

In the reform movement, there are 2 systems I particularly like: Masha Bell's and Dr. Yule's! (BTW, this movement is not new! G. B. Shaw, Carnegie, Roosevelt, and many others after that have tried to make it better.)

Masha Bell's approach is --from what I gather-- more traditional. She looked at the all the rules/patterns and wants to keep all or most of them, removing all (or most of) the irregular words that do not follow those rules. Once you know the 91 rules, you should be able to read any word by yourself, after 1 year (probably a little bit more since there are 2 times as many as there are in other languages). Her new coding is regularising the system as much as it is possible.

Dr. Yule's Interspel system is also looking to regularize matters, but in a different manner.

a) Masha Bell's Idea

Essentially, Masha Bell's idea is to keep the spelling rules, but to regularize a lot of them, and make a few other changes as well.
  • No (limit) "ea", but use the "ee" or "eCe" pattern!
  • Double those consonants for short vowels sounds, regularly.
  • Eliminate the double consonants when they are not needed.
  • Change "gh" to "f".
  • Redundant final "e" are indeed redundant!
  • Past tense "ed" changed to "t" or "d", when the preceding syllable does not end with "t" and "d"
  • Short "e", written as "e",is regularized. So, bed, but sed for said, hed for head, eny for any, frend for friend
  • Short "u", written as "u", is regularized. So, cut, but cuple for couple, cum for come, cumpass for compass)
  • Using the "oo" digraph is problematic because there are so many alternatives (ou, o, u, ...). No definite solution offered.

b) Dr. Yule's Idea

I am using the first stage of Dr.Yule's interspell system and making it my own.

I urge you to skip this section and go to the Wikipedia's article on her system. It is far better an explanation. However, in the first stage of her system, she advocates that the magic "e" be either added to the vowel that it "controls" or "influences" or put an accent on top of those vowels. So, the long vowels would look like this.

long a :  ae or à / to make: pale -----  pael or pàl:

pael or pàl for pale

While Dr. Yule prefers the use of diacritics, I think the "added e" idea is very easy to learn and to teach. It is easy to type as well. It is also present in a lot of words in English.

ie: grief, fief, field, niece, piece, ...
ee: very common
oe: foe, goes, toe, woes,...
ue: blue, fuel, glue,...

 (ae: obscure or non-existant)

Of course, a lot of words would look odd if we were to generalize this across the lexicon.

piel or pil (with an accent) ... for pile
peech or pech (with an accent) ... for peach
poel or pol (with an accent)  ,,, for pole
cuet or cut (with an accent)  ,,, for cute

Of course, this looks odd to us because we are used to the spelling we learned.

This would be a very compelling system because it is highly predictable and reliable in terms of finding the correct spelling (add "e" if it is a long vowel phoneme)! No need to remember that one has to add an "i" to an "a" to make words like "bait", or an "e" after the consonant like in words such as "bate", or an "u" to make words such as "cause". Here, simply add "e"! Period! It will be easy to read as well, of course!

BTW, Dr. Yule recommends that 31 words remain written as they are now because these would make texts less different as these words are ubiquitous in many texts. This idea flies against my idea of making a new system free of the influence and the constraints imposed by traditional speakers (as I believe it should be introduced in schools, phased in that way for 15 years or so), making both systems living side by side. Refer to the main page for a more complete explanation and implications of what would that entail.

I would remove "are" from that list, as it is a word that rimes with "am" and as (az), at, hat, ....

I        am, waz, wil
You  ar, wur, wil,...
S/he  is (iz?), waz
We    ar, wur,...
You   ar, wur
They ar, wur

That is so logical and so beautiful! The "is" with an "s" pronounced like an "z" is problematic and I would rather change it to "z", but that's because Dr. Yule's intent is to "appease" the purists and to implement the change among the literate English-speakers of this world! I would be just as happy to have both systems live side by side. In time, traditional spelling would "vanish", although I am sure some people will be interested in being "bicodal"!

I recommend that you follow the link to her website for other explanations as her system is made up of 3 levels.

The inconsistent use of the single vowel with a consonant like in words like be, we, she, he, do, by, ... is problematic. While we might want to refer to Masha's research and side for "ee" (and perhaps "e", in monosyllabic words), because more words are spelled with "ee" (in her list of common words), "ea" words might be more frequent.

Not many words end with an "i" and if they do they have a final "e" like in die, lie, pie, tie, vie,... Often the "y" is used to make the alphabet i: by, my, why, guy, ...  exception: hi, dye, buy, bye... Again, consistency would help. Using the "y" is a bit counter-intuitive because "y" is used for the ending of adverbs and there are many of those. I think adding the "e" to the "i" (to make the "i" phoneme in by). So, by and buy would be spelled "bie"! I know ... I know it would look weird! But, die, lie, pie, tie, vie don't!

What to do With Those Exceptions?

Sight words or common words are notoriously irregular (and in even  more perverse ways than others exceptions). Just think of these pairs: am/are, one/won, be/see, glue/few

I suggest we change them slightly, in keeping with the above structure.

Here is the complete list of these "pests".

1) are, as, was, half 


2) all, almost, always 

3) a, an, among  

4) come, some

5) could, should, would 

6) pull push put

7) know, of, off 

8) one, once


9) what, 

10) want 



11) two, to, who

I suggest we respell some of these words for consistancy.

1) am, as, was, at ------ drop the "e" -- ar (are) and haf (half), az, 
2) all, almost, always ------ ol, olmost, olways (or olwaez)
3) a, an, among -----  u, un, umong (like in fun, sum, luck,...)
4) come, some --------  com, som or cum or sum
5) could, should, would --------- cued, shued, wued
6) put, push, pull --------  puet, puesh, puel**
7) know, of, off ----------- kno, ov, of
8) one, once ----------- wun, wuns
9) what --- what (it does sound differently than the a in am, as, and at), but I suspect the w makes it so.
10) want ------- want (here the n makes the a sound like a nasal vowel)
11) two, to, who ------- tue, tue, hue

c) Iezi Ingglish









d) There are many others


2) HOW TO SELECT THE BEST NEW SYSTEM

In a nutshell, hundreds of groups of university students would do the selecting. The way I envisione the selection of a new system is that a linguistic professor for each advanced educational institution (we could select all institutions or we could select institutions in a random fashion) would be in charge of answering questions related to linguistic questions posed by the diverse students (this is a project opened to all kinds of students, not just linguistics or arts' students). I --or others-- would create a PUBLIC website in which I --or others-- would present the code of the spelling reformers using a very uniform and specific format for all, allowing students to compare schemes (advantages and disadvantages). The format could be something that should be discussed with all individual reformers who would like to showcase effectively their spelling scheme. Students would analyze the schemes, critically, and discuss the worthiness of each scheme, as part of some kind of a paper (perhaps). After class discussions or group discussions would hopefully be part of the course (or of the meetings). If this could be part of a legitimate university course, then this could be a plus for everyone. Students would feel they would be working for something useful and earn credits towards their degrees. Linguistic professors would hopefully feel the same way. At the end of the course or discussion, students would be voting (online and paper version for control) for one or two schemes they like. The votes of all students would be analyzed and schemes that are winners would be declared winners. We (spelling schemers) could vote on one voting scheme, as it is found in traditional election systems (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system). I guess we would have to find a voting system to vote, first! :) Or we could use different voting systems, as chosen by the institutions. Or we could make it a random voting system,, if we don't have a consensus, reached by a set date. So, after all of those university groups have studied, discussed, analyzed all of the new proposed spelling systems, they would vote. We would get a result delineating which systems has the strongest appeal and go with that selection. With one or a few spelling system-winners, we could start lobby the establishment (the Commonwealth). Again, we would need to have a consensus (or a few ideas) on how it would be done (would this be phased-in, imposed on all,... or not? We could ask student groups to vote for a method as well. Again, the central idea of this method is to decentralize and delegate the decision to third-party groups that don't have a vested interest in any of the proposed schemes. By using many groups, we reduce the possibility of interference as well. We also increase the possibility of having this idea be accepted. I have already addressed in more detail the reasons behind this way of doing things. I will let sociology or political science professors or other and more competent people (if they are interested) to tweak this idea.

3) HOW TO FIX THE SYSTEM WITH ALL OF THOSE DIFFERENT DIALECTAL ACCENTS?

This is an issue that is often brought up when one talks about fixing the English spelling system. There are many different dialectal pronunciations in English. However, most of the difficulties are encountered with vowel sounds. For vowel phonemes, letters (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes) relationships are usually reassigned in all of those different dialects. Let me try to explain this way. If a = 1 in one dialect A and if b = 2 in the same dialect A, we would expect that in dialect B, a would be = 2 and b would be = 1 and so on and so forth. a = 1, b = 2, c = 3 in Dialect A and in Dialect B, possibly a shift like this: a = 2, b = 3 and c =1. This would occur like this for all dialects, for all letters/phonemes. If one refers to this chart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPA_chart_for_English_dialects), you can see what is happening. We can see that, say, a New Zealander pronouncing "path" with an /ɛ/ (pɛθ/) and does not pronounce the vowel in "pet" like an American does. The (New Zealander would say /pet/ (for the non-linguist, the /e/ has this sound: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close-mid_front_unrounded_vowel) or /pɪt/. YOU can see in the chart above that in many cases, if not all cases, all of those sounds have been reassigned for different letters. 

In Iezi Ingglish, the a in path will be again interpreted as an the "e" in pet. Letters are arbitrary.

A shift in the way each sound has been assigned has occurred. All "path" looking words would be pronounced correctly, as they are now, by New Zealanders, Australians, Canadians,... each in its proper dialectal ways. These letters would just have different values. And, there is a high likelihood that most --if not all words-- would be pronounced correctly. Beside, today, with the non-phonetic representation, regional accents are alive and well. It follows that with a more regularized pattern, that would occur too. BTW, while some reformers want a strict phonetic representation, others are more interested in regularizing most of the spelling rules so that there are no exceptions. For instance, we know that the ending "er" or "or" are very common, but they should be represented by a "ur" like in "fur", for example. And, while you might have the tree and the animal coat represented by the same word, adding a bit of a difficulty in making sense of the reading, often the meaning of words can be derived by context. Beside, today, there are many words in many languages that have multiple meanings and most people understand each other. Finally, it is quite conceivable that a more regularized spelling system with a few weak phonemic events (relationships) might at the end mean that a certain accent might change a little. Accents change, in any case. Would that be the end of that region, nation? I doubt it.

But, there are many excuses given to not change things. Please, follow this link to see how those could be dealt with.