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Simplified English?

  1. Jul 5, 2006 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2006 #2
  4. Jul 5, 2006 #3
    pepel's stoopidite never ses 2 amaz me :smile:
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2006
  5. Jul 5, 2006 #4

    selfAdjoint

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    Oh just that old loser, rationalized spelling. That's been around since G. B. Shaw, if not Noah Webster.

    Now simplified English, that's another topic. In the 40's of the last century there was something called Basic English. It had only about 800 words, and most ideas required a number of words (combined using English syntax) to express them, but it worked, you could express any idea in it.

    Robert Heinlein in a story published in 1949, combined the idea of this 800 word language with the fact that there are about 1000 phonemes in use in the world to make a fictional artificial language in which each word of Basic English was expressed by a single phoneme. The story was called "Genius" when it appeared in Astounding magazine's famous "precog" issue, and I believe it was called "Assignment in Eternity" when later collected in a Heinlein edition.
     
  6. Jul 5, 2006 #5

    Moonbear

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    Gah! The so-called "simplified English" in that article was nearly impossible to read! How is that simpler? :yuck: *takes two aspirin and hand the rest of the bottle to TheSwerve*
     
  7. Jul 5, 2006 #6

    Gokul43201

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    Well, duh! Is that the stupidest thing in that article or what?


    As for this:
    That sounds way wrong. It takes some smarts to spell well. I would hardly be surprised if there's a study showing that people stronger in logic (mathematicians and scientists, say) are also better at spelling.

    Well, let's just wait for Rose to show up . . . :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2006
  8. Jul 5, 2006 #7

    Moonbear

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    I agree. There are rules to spelling, and good spellers have actually learned them. The sign of a good speller isn't someone who can memorize lots of words; I actually think those are usually the bad spellers. A good speller knows the rules and can spell a word they've never seen written out before based on the way it sounds. You just know by the rest of the word if that F sound should be spelled with a "ph" or a "gh" or and "f".
     
  9. Jul 5, 2006 #8
    I have noticed that I have somehow become a better speller, I am not sure how, but I have :confused:

    Although, I do, somewhat, like the idea presented in the article.
     
  10. Jul 5, 2006 #9

    Moonbear

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    Just to add to the rules of spelling comments...I was thinking, it's a lot like the way people learn physics. Those who never really grasp the concepts can still memorize a lot of formulas and stick numbers into them, but that doesn't make them good at physics. Those who learn to derive the equations they need because they have a thorough understanding of the underlying concepts are the ones who are good at it.
     
  11. Jul 5, 2006 #10

    JamesU

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    :rofl: while other languages are even more complex, have accents, and 30+ characters, english has to be simplified
     
  12. Jul 5, 2006 #11
    A much worse problem in this country is people who are unable to do arithmetic. It's obviously the fault of the number system; I propose we throw out the integers and replace them with a new system of counting involving colorful beads.
     
  13. Jul 5, 2006 #12
    Actually those things tend to make a language easier to spell in. For example, the alphabet in Russian has about 33 characters (I think), because of this the spelling becomes practically phoenetic, with very few superfluous rules. It's closer to having a one-to-one correspondence between spoken sounds and written syllables. For example, long and short vowels are explicitly different. English has a lot fewer characters (esp. considering that a short list are almost never used - J,X,Z especially); vowels sound completely different depending on context; "c" has multiple sounds depending on context; "f", "ph", "gh", etc. all represent the same sound; often letters are completely silent; and there are hundreds of strange spelling rules. We're very far from being phoenetic. Many Romance languages have the similar difficulties, having fewer characters yet. But Russian, with it's overabundance of characters, is an easy-to-spell nearly-phoenetic language.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2006
  14. Jul 6, 2006 #13

    loseyourname

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    I think you're wrong about this from my experience. The rules of English spelling are haphazardly applied because so many words are loanwords, especially from French. I was never in the upper echelon of spellers as a kid, but I did make the state finals, and it really is just a lot of memorization. I ended up losing on a very simple word: paraffin, simply because at the time I had never heard of it before. There is no rule whatsoever dictating that it should be spelled with two fs instead of one. It all comes down to the etymology of each individual word, whether it derives from Latin, Greek, Old English, other Germanic sources, or Celtic sources. In the case of "paraffin," it comes from the Latin "parum" + "affinis." I probably could have guessed based on the phonetics that it was a Latin-derived word, but again, half of the English language is bastardized French, which also derives from Latin but has drastically altered the spelling.
     
  15. Jul 6, 2006 #14
    Scots is written phentically... (Before you tell me it isnt a langauge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_language ) The only problem with writing English like this, is that all dialects would spell words differently...
     
  16. Jul 6, 2006 #15
    Not exactly. A knowledge of the word's language of origin is a bigger help than "knowing by the rest of the word". In the Scripps National Spelling Bee contestants are allowed to ask the language of origin before beginning to spell the word.

    I do not advocate spelling reform. Such reform would have to be repeated every several centuries anyway. Rather, I advocate we abandon the idea and practice of standardized spelling altogether. Let chaos rule. However, this idea is not going to gain much support among those who have invested a lot of effort into learning how to spell. They won't want to admit that the effort was a poor use of resources.
     
  17. Jul 6, 2006 #16

    Moonbear

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    I think this addresses LYN's comment as well. Yes, part of what complicates the language is that many words are borrowed from other languages. But, I think that fits into the pattern recognition rules as well. The entire word gives the context. I think it's the same way that when someone talks to you in a foreign language, you don't have to understand what they are saying to identify the language being spoken as long as you have some knowledge of the language to help identify it. I think that all fits into part of the rules of the English language...recognizing the origin of the word you're trying to spell to know if it's likely to have a French, Latin or Greek spelling.

    The ones that really cause trouble are when there are two alternate spellings of a word that are both acceptable, though usually one is used more than the others. That's what got me eliminated from a spelling bee. The word was secretariat, but an acceptable alternate spelling is secretariate. The dictionary the judges were using didn't include the alternate spelling (I had never even heard the word before). I think they eliminated about half the contestants on that word, because they were using just the one spelling, and everyone put an 'e' at the end if they used an 'a' before the 't'. We tried every other combination of letters to figure it out...secreteriate, secretariet, secreteriet, secratariate, etc. They all seemed wrong, and we knew it. You could just tell everyone was puzzled, but the first kid who spelled it the way that sounded right to everyone was eliminated on it, so we just couldn't figure out what might be the right spelling. (I was more annoyed because I was able to spell every other word in the entire competition, so just knew I would have won if I wasn't eliminated on that one word...I mean, the final word was zeppelin...I couldn't even believe the finalists were tripping up on that one!) Pengwuino will be happy to hear that I wrote a letter of protest to the organizers afterward, citing Webster's dictionary, and the fact that they had accepted an alternate spelling of another word, and that contestants shouldn't be penalized because the judges only know the alternate spellings of some words and not others. (Yes, I was quite vocal about my opinions, even in the 8th grade.) Their response just said the rules said they were using the one particular dictionary, and the alternate spelling didn't appear in that dictionary. :yuck: My reaction to that was, "How stupid! Who goes and memorizes a specific dictionary for a spelling bee?" I found out later that other kids really do that! :bugeye:
     
  18. Jul 6, 2006 #17

    Gokul43201

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    That only makes the workings more subtle. With many words, you can tell if the root is Greek or Latinic; you can find similarities with words in other present day languages - it's a vast playfield, but that only makes it more fun. And yes, while some amount of pattern matching and correlation applying can make you a pretty good speller, it takes a lot of work and much memorization to be a Bee-grade speller! :biggrin:

    But even for the Bee takers, it's certainly not all memorization - else they really wouldn't bother with all the etymology.

    Really, when I got to the earlier sentence where you described the quandary fo the one f or two, I looked for similar sounding words, and the first one that hit me was affinity. It immediately struck me as extremely likely (I have the advantage of a little chemistry knowledge) that both words shared the same root. That would have settled it for me.
     
  19. Jul 6, 2006 #18
    For someone advocating phonetic language, many of their spellings are highly non-phonetic.
     
  20. Jul 6, 2006 #19

    Chi Meson

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    That there is the major obstacle. Change in language is natural, but the change can not be forced. The silent "gh" is taking forever to go away, even now with "lite" beers and tiny holiday "lites" it still is not widely accepted to talk about our sons and dauters.

    Hundreds of years ago "though" had already become "tho' ," but someone somewhere said "no that's wrong." Same people said the contraction of "it is" must correctly be " 'tis" not "it's." (Jonathan Swift was among this group.) Who decides on which change is correct? everyone and noone .

    But absolutely, you can't have anyone legislate a change in language, and you can't force a group of people to radically change the way they spell. Any time toward this end is wasted.

    This was not a very well constructed argument but I'm not going to edit it. I'm tired and I've just had a beer.
    [decends from soapbox].

    I think I'm woozy from paint fumes too.:tongue2:
     
  21. Jul 7, 2006 #20

    loseyourname

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    That's the thing: you have to know what paraffin is to be able to guess that it has anything to do with affinity. The other problem is that "para" is a Greek root word, and the letter F doesn't even exist in the Greek alphabet. The most logical spelling if we're simply deducing the spelling from the phonetic structure of the word is paraphin. How is a kid to deduce that the word root in fact comes from the Latin "parum" (very little) rather than the Greek "para" (next to) except by memorizing this fact?
     
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