A mor moddest proposal

What if we cood put into place a spelling reform that concerned itself oenly, or mainly, with reading, aiming at a French-style transparency where the langwej wood stil be difficult to spel, but easy to read?

Inittially, the usual suspects wood come under atack: silent letters. Debt, biscuit, salmon, knife wood become det, biskit, sammon, nife, and so on. Sum restraint wood be exercised: light wood remain as is, as wood come; the first because of so menny wurds folloeing that same pattern, the seccond to avoid the uther implications of a cum spelling. Knight, acordingly, wood become night. Uther certan glaring exeptions to the regularity of the system cood also remain, like of, is, etc*. Final E wood be remooved unless it shows the previos vowel is long or it is part of an -SE ending indicating that S is a part of the wurd and not a plural morpheme; or to indicate a previos sylabbic consonant, like in double -> duble.

Unnessesary duble consonants wood be remooved; for example, when after a short vowel in a monosyllable, or after a reduced vowel. They wood not be remooved when they help to indicate wurd stres, like in duress. Likewise, consonants wood be dubled when nessesary, to show that the previos vowel is short. This new spelling wood, for example, use VV a lot mor often than the tradittional spelling, to diferentiate even from sevven.

The new spelling wood not concern itself with diferentiating homophones (wurds that sound the same) in spelling, as yoo can see by the choices of wood for tradittional wood – would and night for tradittional night – knight. Homophones that ar spelled differently create reading problems and plenty of spelling problems to boot.

The reform wood mainly concern itself with elimminating reading colissions, that is, havving the same spelling for different sounds. It wood not concern itself too much with havving different spellings for the same sound, as long as those variant spellings ar not also used for uther sounds; allowing for sum exeptions, but aiming of course at reducing them. It would also take care not to create any new colissions between the tradittional spellings and the new spellings. Case in point: show/shows make mor sense spelled sho/shoes, but that colides with the tradittional vallue of shoes. So they remain as is.

An example to illustrate the previos point: moest common wurds with the FLEECE vowel sound ar spelled with eether EE or EA, like eel and eat, steel and steal. This new spelling wood spel boeth steel and steal as steel, keep boeth eel and eat, and change uther spellings of FLEECE to EE: celing, feeld, polece, peeple, kee, skee, debree. On the uther hand, it wood also reggularize the spelling of the DRESS vowel, mainly to avoid confusion between the EA spellings of wurds like bread and speak. So bread and bred wood boeth be spelled bred, as wood hed, helth, enny, sed, frend, leppard, and berry for boeth tradittional berry and bury.

To put it anuther way, this new spelling mainly goes after Masha Bell’s “big sevven” (surplus final E, consonant dubleing, and the spelling of FLEECE, DRESS, STRUT, GOAT and GOOSE)**, plus differently spelled homophones, silent letters in genneral and a few uther anoyances and groce and unpredictable iregularities that afect reading in wun way or anuther. Yoo wil notice that this proposal is pritty conservative in tackleing these issues. For example, it accepts both EE and EA for FLEECE (and sometimes I and -Y), and it does not diferentiate systemattically between UE, EW and OO spellings of GOOSE. Mor progres cood deffinitly be made on these points.

No spelling reform wil evver please evrybuddy. Sum wil claim this mor moddest proposal is too moddest, uthers wil say it is too raddical stil. It is a pet project, but it is also an actual proposal, out in the wurld in search for feedback, and with sum hope for practical aplication too. In the short term, yoo might see it featured on this verry blog.


* Tho i cood certanly be soeld on an ov spelling.

** Read mor about Masha Bell’s research and proposals at her sites English spelling problems and Improving English spelling.


One thought on “A mor moddest proposal

    This is how this sould be approached, with a more modest reform at first, where people could still read and understand what they are reading, even if it is spelled differently.
    And the fact that i have been able to understand your blog, proves it…
    Superb , keep it up !


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