Friday, July 07, 2006

Simplified Spelling?

I was just readingthis article about the puch for simplified spelling. Tha article talks about the pros and cons of a more phonetic spelling, and about the movement in favor of a reform in English ilogical spelling.

It is an amazing topic to discuss, and I believe there are many advantages to a simpler spelling,but I have to agree with one of its opponents when he says that it is too much trouble for what it is worth. It is too much trouble because you cannot simply push a spelling reform down a people's throat. That would end up consfusing everyone's mind. Spelling changes happen naturally and gradually.

Radical changes only confuse the learners who are working hard to understand and solidify the rules they learned and are getting used to them, and the speakers of the language who already have an established idea of how sounds and letter combinations work. For instance donut instead of doughnut, thru instead of through. These changes were not imposed by a reform, some people just started using them and today they are pretty much accepted. They are not official spellings yet, but they are accepted and easy to understand at a first glance. They usually start entering dictionaries when they start being accepted in the academic world and used by writers.

A radical reform would confuse because it would simply disrupt the way people are used to reading and thus make the act of readig anything a task of decyphering phonetic sounds. Just pay attention to what happens when a child who is learning how to spell brings the grown up a piece of paper with a few letter jotted down - we have a hard time figuring out the words, because our eyes will look for the system we have in our minds.

Besides, pronounce changes from place to place, from state to state, from north to south, we all know that. The kids that are learning how to spell, will often spell using their region common pronounce. Which pronounce would be the offically chosen one massacrating and terminating all others in a very unfair elitism?

Language is something that belongs to the people, and it changes with the people. It can not be legislated upon by a small group, changed as pleased, and then announced as the "new way". CHanges happen, since the natural tendency of all of us humans is to simplify our language. it is the case with internet lingo (u, bc, r), it is the case with words that are not used anymore for being too long or too clumsy, it is the case with certain irregular past tenses and plurals. That happens in any language, as we have a lot of this in Brazil too. Just like spoken language changes, so does written language, but in a slower pace, keeping track of the past. Written language is language's way to save its history.

No comments: