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Thursday, 06 July 2006


Mustang Bobby

The Green Knight brought up a good point; if we change to phonetic spelling -- based on the sound of the word -- what dialect or accent do we use? Mine, which sounds (according to some) slightly Canadian (thanks to growing up 50 miles across Lake Erie from Canada), or something else? I shudder to think what would happen if we had to adopt the accent of the newscaster, or worse, the president. In my lifetime, the only presidents who didn't have a noticeable accent were Nixon and Reagan...


That is a good point. I remember that around half the time we spent in voice class was learning how to mimic various national and regional accents. All well and good for an actor who may be called upon to play a role that calls for any of them at any time--but whose do you pick when it comes time to determine what "standard" English is going to be? To this day, I get people who tell me they're sure I'm from "back East" because years of theater and singing and public speaking have ingrained good speech habits into me. I enunciate clearly, I try not to drop consonants or slur vowels (at least when speaking formally; informally, I'm a lot less careful).


If they ever bothered to teach them, there are, in fact, rules for English spelling that covers 95+% of the words used. These "reform" schemes almost always result in a loss of precision in the language.

English is based on German, but has been influenced by a number of other languages. In the melding we have created an number of unique sounds and lost some old ones.

The "gh" combination was once pronounced, but it fell into disuse. We no longer have the letter for "edh" but the "soft th" is still with us.

Do these people really want to be lumped together with the Bolsheviks as spelling reformers?

Y'all do not want to deal with the spelling that would be required to reproduce the way we pronounce things on the Gulf Coast. Twain gives you a flavor of Missouri, but it gets worse.


All anyone who thinks this is a good idea has to do is read some short fiction written almost exclusively in dialect and see how painful it is. Joel Chandler Harris springs immediately to mind. I only made it through the little of what I had to read of him because I'm southern and could hear the cadence of the language in my head. I'd be screwed if I had to read Maine dialect, for instance. I have a hard enough time when it pops up in Non Sequitur.

Ken Kurtz

It also might help purity if you did not make transition into a verb.

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