Heill Keth

Yes, there was an attempt at a spelling reform in the
States. It was sometime in the late 70's or early
80's. It didn't really go anywhere. However, it did
seem to make it acceptable to write "night" as "nite"
and "light" as "lite". Although, this is not an
official thing.

Its a funny thing, we Americans are very picky about
how our language is spelled eventhough better than
half of us can't speak it worth a damn. I think that
the reform in the 70's was doomed to failure at the
time because of our geographic isolation from the rest
of the world. Much like Iceland. Now with the wide
spread use of the internet that isolation is on its
way out. I don't believe that an actual spelling
change will occure because of any official change. I
doubt that one day Webster's Dictionary will come out
and say "Now 'light' is 'lite'. Though it may happen,
the contraction "ain't" is now in the Dictionary. An
interesting side note to this is the reason there was
a move to change the spelling in the first place was
that with the pronuniciation of English depending on
the word and not the letter it is quite possible to
write the word "fish" as "ghoti". The "gh" as in
"rough". The "ti" as in "nation" and I can't remember
where the "o" comes from. But it works.


--- keth@... wrote:

> The problem with English is that the pronounciation
> of a letter
> depends on what word it is occurring in. Thus, in
> English, the
> pronounciation of each word has to be learned
> independently
> of the spelling of the same word.
> I recall some years ago an American spelling reform,
> that
> did not come across as very major, was being
> discussed. An
> example is the spelling of "night" as "nite".
> (I think this spelling reform was abandoned later,
> because it is
> really very long ago since I saw any one write night
> as "nite")
> The "gh" in "night" is actually a good example,
> since it suggests
> that the word "night" was previously pronounced
> differently, though
> this is many centuries ago. If you compare with
> West-Germanic,
> e.g. Dutch "nacht" you will get some idea about what
> the "gh" is
> doing in English "night". There are many such
> examples, and
> you will notice many as you work with the language,
> with an open eye
> for such phenomena.
> The medieval spelling of imported arabic words, (you
> mentioned admiral)
> is of course common to all European languages, and
> thus does not give a good
> demonstration of the peculiarities of English.
> One thing one motices is that the dictionaries they
> use in America
> (e.g. Webster's) all include phonetic pronounciation
> guides for each
> separate word, as well as etymologies.
> The reason for the phonetic information is of course
> that there
> is no other way to find out how to pronounce a word.
> (except by asking
> someone else, who is a seasoned user) The reason for
> all the etymologies,
> is because almost 50% af all English words are
> actually French imports.
> And the meanings of many English words are very hard
> to learn without
> knowing some Latin or some French.
> For comparison, I'd like to state that the
> dictionaries we used for Norwegian
> in school, did not include any etymologies at all.
> Nor did they include any
> phonetic pronounciation guidelines. That is because
> Norwegian is very much
> pronounced "as is".
> (and I don't think the Norwegian language is in a
> unique position
> in this regard, either - but that is another
> discussion)
> Here a simple example of how the constant spelling
> reforms work:
> Formerly it was "jeg stod".
> However, since the "d" is no longer pronounced, the
> new spelling
> rules say that the correct form is now "Jeg sto".
> Very simple: you just keep changing the spelling so
> that it always
> conforms to the latest habits of pronounciation.
> I could give many other examples. But since a few
> random examples
> are hardly statistically significant, the final
> judgement of the
> state of affairs must be left to those who know the
> two languages
> that are being compared. Preferably it should be
> people who have
> lived a considerable time "among the populace" of
> the countries
> that are being compared. Or better: gone through
> primary school
> in the given countries. Since I haven't lived in
> Iceland, I just
> have to take your word for it, that the Icelandic
> system is a
> consistent one. But if the Icelandic school
> childeren all need
> to know SAMPA and IPA in order to learn to pronounce
> their own
> language, then that would of course modify ones view
> on how close
> written Icelandic is to an approximately phonetic
> spelling system.
> Note that my remarks were descriptive.
> I wasn't "criticizing" either English or Icelandic.
> I think it is nice that some languages are
> conservative and stick
> to old forms.
> Keth
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> - Keth
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