Hail Oskar :
>Now, I'm not particularly sensitive about criticism of Icelandic
>orthography, or of anything Icelandic; erraneous conclusions are what
>I am sensitive about, however. I wouldn't involve myself in this
>discussion, except that I have a very hard time containing myself in
>the face of such error.

? I do not recall making an "error"

>> 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".
>I'm not Norwegian, but even if I were, I think I'd be careful with
>such statements;

Well, it was a simple statement of fact.

>first, which of the two official Norwegian
>orthographies (or languages, so-called) do you refer to, Bokmål or
>Nynorsk? Second, with the myriad Nowegian dialects, how can one make
>a conclusive statement about Norwegian pronunciation?

There aren't a "myriad" of dialects in Norway.
There are however regional languages.

Maybe it has changed now -- young kids hardly read books any more.
But when I grew up and learned to read, there wasn't ever a problem
with prononciation - An A was an A was an A - If you get my meaning.
So when we were confronted with the picture of a cock, and we
had learned the sound of A, E, H and N, we read H-A-N-E : Hane! :)
simsalabim. no problemo!

>Most languages have a variety of dialects, which often causes

In Norway there aren't any "dialects" but only regional languages.
That means that pronounciation of the same words depends on the region
you are from. But it isn't really the pronounciation of the letters,
but rather the whole tonal quality that you speak with.

But one or two letters differ - true enough.
There are two kinds of R for example. But we just acknowledge
they are interchangable, and pay little attention to it, except
that it tells where a person is from. Then there are also some
differences in the pronounciation of "U" - in some places it is
more rounded, in other places less.

But that is no problem, because you can always pronounce
"straight from the book".

Then there are also "levels" of language.
But then you have to write everything differently.
And then there is of course Bokmål, Riksmål and Nynorsk,
where Riksmål dominates the book and newspaper media.

Nevertheless, there is no problem with pronounciation.
The writing is more or less phonetic.

No, the problem is not one of pronounciation, but rather what
words to use. (fremmedord eller norske f.eks.)

>problems in orhography. Spanish orthography, for example, fits to all
>the dialects, yet to none of them; that is, in most versions of
>Spanish, there are some two symbols that represent the same sound (or
>rather, phoneme), yet in another version, the same two symbols
>represent different phonemes. For example, in European Spanish, "se"
>and "ce" are generally pronounced differently ("ce" sounding like
>ON "þe" [Te]), while in American Spanish, they're pronounced the same
>(both as "se"); meanwhile, in a typical European Spanish
>dialect, "eya" and "ella" would sound the same (as "eya" [ejA]),
>while an American Spanish dialect (such as, say, Ecuadorian) would
>have two different sounds there, pronouncing "ella" as [eZA] or even
>[edZA] ([dZ] being the "j" in "just"). The point is that in the case
>of Spanish, and many other languages, the orthography serves all the
>dialects equally, keeping all distinctions between sounds that are
>made in the various dialects.

Of course Spanish exists over large regions of the world.
But I don't worry about it. It's a nice language and I am
sure I'll pick it up when I get there.

(Latin languages generally have a nice set of vowels.
That is why Italian Opera is so pleasing to listen to.
Spanish song is also very pleasing)
(and so is Swedish song btw - they too have a very nice set
of vowels)

>What I'm trying to say is that the quality of an orthographic system
>is not just how well it transcribes "the spoken language" (which
>spoken language?). Accurate transcriptions ultimately fall prey to
>the great variety of the spoken language: between generations,
>between dialects, sociolects, even idiolects (e.g. if we were to
>transcribe English accurately, which "either" should it be?).

I think you make things hopelessly difficult.
Actually, it is as simple as singing a song.
English too can be easy. What I was talking about was, however,
how well the written language matches the spoken language.

How difficult is it to ride a bike?

>> 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.
>How did you come up with that? Why not present it in question form

It was an if-sentence.

>"Do Icelandic school children need to know SAMPA and IPA in order to
>learn to pronounce their own language?"
>Would at best have been a very silly question, but as a serious
>statement, it baffles me.

I think you are'nt used to if-statements.
If-statements aren't silly, they are expressing how one thing
depends upon another.

>You see, children learn to speak long before they learn to read or
>write; they still do so, will do so, and have always done so. Even
>outside of Norway, they do.
>As regards SAMPA and IPA, then students of some high schools learn
>rudimentary IPA at age 17, for one semester; nobody has heard of
>SAMPA, though.

Thank you! Well, in my school days we were not required to know
anything about phonetic alphabets, although we had both French,
English and German, as well as two kinds of Norwegian. And yea ;)
we even had a term of Old Norse.