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  1. Adverbial
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THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
This article is from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spelling_reform

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License 

Spelling reform

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

Spelling reform generally attempts to introduce a logical structure connecting the spelling and pronunciation of words. It may be associated with other efforts of language planning and language reform.

Arguments on reformation

In languages written with alphabetic or syllabary scripts there is theoretically a close match of the script or spelling with the spoken sound. However, even if they match at one time and place for some speakers, over time they often don't match well for the majority; one sound may be represented by various letters and one letter pronounced in various ways. In cases where spelling is used to highlight grammatical features these too may become inconsistent.

People whose spelling does not conform to that of the standard language often suffer prejudice, since mastery of standard spelling is a marker of formal education or conventionally measured intelligence (however, people with learning disabilities may be poor spellers while otherwise having normal cognitive abilities). Some educators[citation needed] argue that literation is easier in languages that do make use of consistent (and preferably phonemic) spelling systems -- like Finnish, Polish, Italian or Spanish -- than in languages which use anachronistic or overly complicated spellings -- like Tibetan, French or English.

Proposed spelling reforms range from modest attempts to eliminate particular irregularities (such as SR1) through more far-reaching reforms (such as Cut Spelling) to attempts to introduce a full phonemic orthography, like the Shavian alphabet, the latest DevaGreek alphabet, the Latinization of Turkish or Hangul in Korea.

Stated reasons for these reforms include making the language more useful for international communications and easier to learn for immigrants and children. Opposition to reforms is often based upon concern that old literature will become inaccessible, the presumed suppression of regional accents, or simple conservatism based upon concern over unforeseen consequences. Reform efforts are further hampered by habit and a lack of a central authority to set new spelling standards.

Superfluity of graphemes (letters) is often an issue in spelling reform, which prompts the 'Economic Argument' - significant cost savings in the production materials over time - as promulgated by George Bernard Shaw, altho it requires a rare, altruistic farsightedness to fully appreciate it, and, especially in the modern context, acquires an environmentalist aspect, thus turning into the Environmentalist Argument. There is also a Personal Safety Argument, whereby rapid texting in emergencies is seen as being hampered by superfluous graphemes.

The idea of phonemic spelling has also been criticized, on the grounds that it would hide morphological similarities between words that happen to have quite different pronunciations. This line of argument is based on the idea that when people read, they do not in reality try to work out the sequence of sounds composing each word, but instead either recognise words as a whole, or as a sequence of small number of semantically significant units (for example morphology might be read as morph+ology, rather than as a sequence of a larger number of phonemes). In a system of phonetic spelling, these semantic units become less distinct, as various allomorphs can be pronounced differently in different contexts. For example, in English spelling, most past participles are spelled with an -ed on the end, even though this can have several pronunciations (compare kissed and interrupted). This argument has been used in controversies over orthography among peoples of the former Soviet Union whose languages have been switched from the Latin alphabet to the Cyrillic alphabet and back again, notably Moldovans where the switch to a Latin alphabet was accompanied by a move to phonemic spelling. According to critics this severed etymological links between related words thus destroying what they considered as subtleties of the languages (Moldovan is a variation of Romanian, a Romance language written using Cyrillic for four centuries before it switched to the Latin alphabet in the late nineteenth century).

One of the concerns in introducing a spelling reform is how to reflect different pronunciations, often linked to regions or classes.

If the reform tries to be absolutely phonemic according to some model dialect, some speakers will find collisions with their usage.

English spelling reform

Main article: English spelling reform

English spelling contains many irregularities due to a number of factors. The large number of words assimilated from other languages is one of them; an even greater cause is the fact that English began to be widely written and printed during the Middle English period. While English spelling was relatively systematic during the Middle English period, the shift to modern English involved undergoing a Great Vowel Shift and many other changes in phonology. The older, etymological spellings have been retained despite major shifts in phonology.

Functional illiteracy has been reported as high as 20% (Bell: p115) in the UK compared with 10% in Germany and 8% in Sweden. Professor Seymour referring to the findings of the EU project "Learning Disorders as a barrier to human development" children need 2 and a half to 3 years to gain the same level of literacy that children acquire in a year learning most other languages. (Masha Bell: Understanding English Spelling p 115). This difference is attributed to the exceptional level of irregularities in English spelling.

Modern English has anywhere from fourteen to twenty-two separate vowel and diphthong phonemes, depending on dialect, and 26 or 27 consonants. A simple phoneme-letter representation of this language with the twenty-six letters of the Latin alphabet is clearly impossible and multi letter graphemes are a part of most spelling reform proposal (they are of a part of current English spelling as well, as for example the first two phonemes of sheep are the digraphs <sh> and <ee>.) Diacritical marks have occasionally formed part of spelling reform proposals in the past, but today they would pose a great difficulty for digital text processing and other uses of computers, requiring the replacement of most hard- and software, which is not feasible in practice.

Practicalities of devising a phonemically based system are also the target of criticism. The vowel inventory of British English and American English differs substantially, and many words are pronounced differently. A phonemic system would have to pick between the two. That also neglects Australian, Caribbean English (in several forms), and so on.

A number of proposals have been made to reform English spelling. Some were proposed by Noah Webster early in the 19th century. He was in part concerned to distinguish British spelling from American usage. Some, but by no means all, of his suggestions result in the differences between American and British spellings.

Spelling reform is parodied in "A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling"[1], which is variously attributed to Mark Twain, who was actually a supporter of reform, and to M J Shields.

List of English spelling reform proposals

Main article: List of reform proposals for the English language#Spelling reforms

Proposals for English spelling regularity that conform to the basic Roman alphabet

Common features:

  • They do not introduce any new letters or symbols, thus facilitating ease of transition away from the traditional orthography.
  • They rely upon familiar digraphs.
  • They do not introduce diacritics (accents), which are not favored by English speakers and very problematic for computer use.
  • They do not dramatically change the appearance of existing words.
  • There is an increased regularity to the spelling rules.
  1. SoundSpel, Saundspel
  2. Cut Spelling
  3. Freespeling
  4. Stage 1
  5. New Spelling 90
  6. Saaspel™
  7. Nuspelynh
  8. NuEnglish [2]
  9. SR1

Proposals for English spelling that augment or replace the basic Roman alphabet

Common features:

  • Among other things, these proposals seek to eliminate the extensive use of digraphemes in the English use of the standard Roman alphabet, such as "sh", "ch", voiced "th", voiceless "th", "zh", "ph", "ng", "nk", "gn" and "kn". The impetus for removing digraphs is grounded in the desire to have each letter represent a single sound. In a digraph, the two letters do not represent their individual sounds but instead an entirely different and discrete sound.
  • There is an increased regularity to the spelling rules.
  1. Shavian
  2. Deseret
  3. FonetikSpell

Numerous other proposals exist.

Successes in spelling complication

Some dictionaries of the renaissance period actually complicated spelling by adopting false Latin etymologies:

  • iland became island (from the Latin insula, although island is actually a Germanic word, compare German Eiland)
  • ile became aisle (also from insula)

According to Cornell Kimball [1], other words modified based on false etymologies include:

  • crumb, thumb, numb
  • ghost, aghast, ghastly
  • foreign, sovereign
  • scythe
  • ptarmigan
  • rhyme
  • ache, anchor

Successes in spelling simplification

Noah Webster, when developing his dictionary in the early 19th century, advocated spelling reform and used many simplified spellings in his dictionary. The most commonly seen, which separate American English from British English in this area, are, from the American Dictionary of the English Language (1828):

  • colour became color
  • favour became favor
  • centre became center
  • traveller became traveler

Webster's first dictionary, A Compendious dictionary of the English language (1806), uses some alternate spellings which did not gain acceptance:

  • isle became ile
  • examine became examin
  • feather became fether
  • definite became definit
  • thread became thred
  • thumb became thum
This section may contain original research or unverified claims.
Please help Wikipedia by adding references. See the talk page for details.
 

Spelling reform managed to make some progress in the early 20th century. Most notably, beginning in 1934, the Chicago Tribune adopted many simplified spellings for words, which they did not entirely abandon until 1975.[2] Some simplified spellings of the 20th century have become widely accepted:

  • interne became intern
  • mediaeval (or mediæval) became medieval
  • gramme became gram

Others were only accepted in certain regions:

  • sulphur became sulfur (dominant spelling in American English, IUPAC-adopted spelling)
  • catalogue became catalog (dominant spelling in American English, uncommon elsewhere)
  • analogue became analog (dominant spelling in American English, uncommon elsewhere)
  • cancelled became canceled (single-L common in American English; double-L common in British English)

Others survive as variant spellings:

  • aghast became agast
  • cigarette became cigaret
  • prologue became prolog
  • hearken became harken
  • proceed became procede
  • socks became sox (remembered in the names of the Red Sox and White Sox Major League Baseball clubs)
  • through became thru (informal as in "drive-thru" or where space is at a premium)
  • night became nite (informal or archaic — "late nite")
  • clue became clew (archaicism)
  • telephone became telefone (archaicism)

Finally, some never gained acceptance:

  • hockey became hocky
  • thorough became thoro
  • definitely became definitly
  • traffic became trafic
  • tongue became tung
  • subpoena (or subpœna) became subpena
  • drought became drouth

French spelling reform

Main article: Reforms of French orthography.

In 1990, a substantial reform ordered by the French prime minister changed the spelling of about 2000 words as well as some grammar rules. With much delay, the new recommended orthography received official support in France, Belgium and Quebec in 2004, but it has not been widely adopted. Some major French-language dictionaries have incorporated some of the changes.

Street name adapted to last German spelling reform
Street name adapted to last German spelling reform

German spelling reform of 1996

Main article: German spelling reform of 1996.

Even though German spelling has already been much more consistent than English or French spelling, German speaking countries signed an agreement for spelling reforms in 1996, planned to be gradually introduced beginning in 1998 and fully used in 2005.

The so-called Rechtschreibreform is still subject to dispute, and polls consistently show a majority against the new rules. In Summer of 2004, several newspapers and magazines returned to the old rules.

It was not the first reform of the German spelling. There was an earlier reform in 1901. In 1944 another was due to be introduced, but ultimately came to nothing because of the war situation.

Greek spelling reforms

Main article: Monotonic orthography

The classical, medieval, and early modern polytonic orthography contained a number of archaisms inherited from Ancient Greek, which have been dispensed with or simplified in the modern monotonic orthography. See also Katharevousa.

Indonesian spelling reforms

Related article: Differences between Malay and Indonesian: Orthography

Indonesian underwent spelling reforms in 1947 and 1972, after which its spelling was more consistent with the form of the language spoken in Malaysia (i.e. Malay).

The first of these changes (oe to u) occurred around the time of independence in 1947; all of the others were a part of an officially-mandated spelling reform in 1972. Some of the old spellings, which were more closely derived from the Dutch language, still survive in proper names.

Japanese spelling reform

Main article: Historical kana usage

The original Japanese kana syllabaries were a purely phonetic representation used for writing the Japanese language when they were invented around 800 AD as a simplification of Chinese kanji characters. However, the syllabaries were not completely codified and alternate letterforms, or hentaigana, existed for many sounds until standardization in 1900. In addition, due to linguistic drift the pronunciation of many Japanese words changed, mostly in a systematic way, from the classical Japanese language as spoken when the kana syllabaries were invented. Despite this, words continued to be spelt in kana as they were in classical Japanese, reflecting the classic rather than the modern pronunciation, until a Cabinet order in 1946 officially adopted spelling reform, making the spelling of words purely phonetic and dropping characters which represented sounds no longer used in the language.

Norwegian spelling reforms

Related article: Norwegian language struggle

Prior to Norway becoming independent in 1905, the Norwegian language was written in Danish with minor characteristic regionalisms and idioms. After independence there were spelling reforms in 1907, 1917, 1938, 1941 and 1981, reflecting the tug-of-war between the spelling style preferred by traditionalists or reformers depending on social class, urbanization, ideology, education and dialect.

Portuguese spelling reforms

Main article: Spelling reforms of Portuguese

The original medieval spelling of Portuguese was mostly phonetic, but, from the Renaissance on, many authors who admired classical culture began to use an etymological orthography. In the early 20th century, however, spelling reforms in Portugal and Brazil reverted the orthography to phonetic principles. Subsequent reforms have aimed mainly at three objectives, with variable success: to eliminate the few traces of redundant etymological spelling that remained, to reduce the number of words marked with diacritics, and to bring the Brazilian spelling standard and the European-African spelling standard closer to each other.

In the early 20th century, Brazil and Portugal started talks on spelling reform to end the etymological writing system. Because of delays, Portugal adopted the reform alone in 1911, resulting in a split between the orthographies of the two countries. In 1924, the Portuguese and Brazilian academies settled on an International Agreement. In 1931, a preliminary agreement adopted the new orthography in Brazil. But there remained many differences, leading to the new orthographic agreement of 1943, which would have removed the remaining differences; however, Portugal made another "reform" in 1945, which restored some "silent" letters as in "facto" or "assumpção", which are spelled "fato" and "assunção" according to 1943 reform. In 1956, Brazil adopted a simplification in accentuation rules. In 1971, some more differences were eliminated. In 1986, Brazil invited the other six Portuguese language countries, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe, to a meeting in Rio de Janeiro to address the remaining problems, but the proposed reform was met with fierce opposition by the Portuguese media and public opinion, because it was seen as too radical. In 1990, the seven countries settled on a new agreement, which would go into effect in 1994. For various reasons, ratification was delayed in the nations' parliaments. But slowly, Portugal, Brazil and Cape Verde ratified the agreement; an alteration was made in 1998 in Cape Verde, which does not set a specific date to implement the agreement.

In 2004, the seven nations and East Timor made a change to the agreement, allowing the reform to go into practice immediately in the countries that have already ratified it, and accepting both orthographies as legitimate in the meantime. This has accelerated the ratification processes of East Timor and Guinea-Bissau. The old orthographies, however, continue to predominate in their respective countries until three countries ratify the change to the agreement. As of January 2005, only Brazil has fulfilled the requirements. On the other hand, Portugal is facing elections, delaying the use of the new spelling reform.

Russian spelling reforms

Main article: Reforms of Russian orthography.

Over the time, there were a number of changes in spelling. They were mostly related with elimination of letters of the Cyrillic alphabet rendered obsolete by changes in phonetics.

When Peter I introduced his "civil script" in 1708, based on more western-looking letter shapes, spelling was simplified as well.

The most recent major reform of Russian spelling was carried out shortly after the Russian Revolution. The Russian orthography was simplified by eliminating four obsolete letters and the archaic usage of the letter yer (hard sign) at the ends of words, which had originally been a vowel with a sound similar to schwa, but had become silent by the 20th century.

Spanish spelling reforms

There have been several initiatives to reform the spelling of Spanish: Andrés Bello succeeded in making his proposal official in several South American countries, but they later returned to the RAE standard.

Another initiative, the Ortografia Fonetika Rasional Ispanoamerikana, remained a curiosity. Juan Ramón Jiménez proposed changing -ge- and -gi to -je- and ji, but this is applied only in editions of his works or his wife's. Gabriel García Márquez raised the issue of reform during a congress at Zacatecas, and drew attention to the issue, but no resultant changes. The Academies, however, change several tidbits from time to time. See also Spanish orthography.

Spelling reforms in other languages

  • Spelling reform of the Armenian language 1922-1924
  • Simplified Chinese character, the equivalent of spelling reform in Chinese, a language with a non-alphabetic script
  • Dutch orthography: The history of Dutch spelling reforms
  • The Hangul alphabet replaced hanja in the Korean language
  • The Latvian language discarded the digraph Uo in 1914, the letter Ō in 1946, and the letters Ŗ and Ch in 1957.
  • The Turkish alphabet replaced the Ottoman Turkish script in the Turkish language
  • Quốc ngữ replaced chữ nho and chữ nôm in the Vietnamese language.

Notes

  1. ^ Kimball, Cornell. "It ain't necessarily so." simpl speling, March 2002 part 1. Part 3. Simplified Spelling Society.
  2. ^ "Spelling the Chicago Tribune Way, 1934-1975" Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, J24, 1998/2 pp3-10 (continued in JSSS J25 1999/1 and J25 1999/2).

References

  1. István Fodor and Clause Hagège (eds): La Réforme des langues. Histoire et avenir. Language reform. History and future. Sprachreform. Geschichte und Zukunft. Buske, Hamburg 1983–1989
  2. Edite Eestrela: A Questão Ortográfica: Reforma e Acordos da Língua Portuguesa. Editorial Notícias, Lisbon 1993

See also

  • Official script
  • Language planning
  • Language policy
  • Language reform

External links

  • A brief history of spelling reform in Norway
  • Writing Systems Reforms and Revolutions
  • Revolutionary Scripts: The Politics of Writing Systems, by Richard Oliver Collin, at Omniglot
  • "Language Reform on the Kitchen Table," by John Maher, Professor of Linguistics at International Christian University in Tokyo
  • The Simplified Spelling Society
  • "English accents and their implications for spelling reform", by J.C. Wells, University College London
  • "The Standardization of Irish Spelling: an Overview", by Muiris Ó Laoire
  • Daniel360 on English spelling reform
  • Re-Romanization of English
  • A 21st Century Proposal for English Spelling Reform: A humorous look at spelling reform, arguing that the complexity of English has led to its position as a world language, and thus should increase.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spelling_reform"
 

 

 

 


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