[Sorry, folks; I've been away from e-mail for a few days.]

On Mon, 21 Jun 2004 22:48:17 -0400, Ph. D. <phild@...> wrote:

> Some English speakers just don't get it. All over southeastern Michigan,
> new office buildings are given names such as "Green Oaks Officenter."
> The last word is intended to be read as "Office Center." Many bank
> holding companies have added "Bancorp" to their names. Again, this is
> intended to be read "Bank Corp."

> I find this very annoying.

> --Ph. D.

In Watertown Square* there's a company called "Reproprint, Inc", but the
last letter of "Inc" is a delightful overlay of a crescent over a stem,
creating an hybrid "c/k" character. Most unfortunately, the delightful
part of their sign has fallen off; I haven't stopped in yet to see whether
their stationery and business cards carry the same delight. *Watertown,
Mass. (a triangle, as are many)

As to the likes of "Bancorp", I'd be extremely stubborn, insisting on
pronouncing as spelled.

{Rant coming...}
When so many people are clueless about the phonetic aspect of our
alphabet, such things become more understandable. With "inconvience"
replacing "inconvenience" all over the place, these are consistent, in a
broad sense.

I truly hope that such bizarre cultural cancers will disappear in the long
term, but if they don't, then our alphabet, for some people, will become
more like the basic graphical elements used for writing CJK, but probably
with a far-less rigorous ordinary working set of definitions; the letters
will become closer to loosely-defined abstractions. (It was a remarkable
experience studying the Nelson (JP-->EN) dictionary for the first time;
numerous kanji had related meanings, but, small wonder that katakana is
apparently used for legal documents.)

What's so sad about this is that if this modification of pronunciation
were accepted, and one really did intend to have a word pronounced as
"bancorp", the spelling "Bancorp" on paper would become ambiguous, without
a single, definite pronunciation.

It seems that in practice, one can assume that people who learned by the
"whole word" method are at their limits with a word of CVC complexity.
Anything more complicated, and they're quite lost. The re-spellings in
news articles for pronouncing unfamiliar words are pathetically simplistic.

Ultimately, what could result is a disconnect between spelling
(orthography?) and pronunciation akin to that for CJK; think, for
instance, of the [on] and [kun] readings of kanji (not products of
ignorance!), or pronunciations of given hanzi in various Chinese

I recall a teenager who was utterly adamant that the correct spelling of a
well-known Italian food was "ravalio". Afterthought: That makes sense if
one considers that internal letters can be scrambled if one desires.

When I really get going, I refer to such sabotage of a good system of
writing as cultural suicide.

I'm making some wild statements that will probably distress some
Qalamites. I don't welcome these changes, either.

{Different kind of rant...}

With regular rant mode off, this looks like evolution of our writing
system. (Will we ever need ruby?) As requirements for eliminating
ambiguity develop, perhaps in some cases cultural adjuncts will be
essential (pronunciation of "Cholmondeley"), and other not-yet
used/invented means for resolving ambiguity will develop. (It would be
really amusing, in a sense, if something like bopomofo or a kana were used
as ruby for English!)

It has taken me quite a long time to realize that to tens of millions of
people, if not hundreds of millions, our writing system is close to a
combination of Korean (alphabetic, in a square box) and Chinese (various
non-alphabetic elements in a square box).

Our elements never overlap; there's always space between them (true of
Korean, it seems to me; my doubt is doubled letters). As understood by
"whole word" people, our elements are written in a box of whatever width
is needed. Its height extends from the tops of ascenders (or cap O) to the
bottoms of descenders. Best guess is that the first and last letters have
phonetic significance, but the rest of the letters need not be in sequence.

I'm beyond trad'l. Official Fogy Age, so my desire to see a good writing
system not be <rant>sabotaged</rant> is probably stronger than it might be
if I were younger -- perhaps.

Nevertheless, I send my regards to all.

P.S.: On an unrelated topic, I just encountered a literate commentary that
at least twice misspelled "then" as "than"; that's a switch!

Nicholas Bodley /*|*\ Waltham, Mass.
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