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From: "Luís Henrique" <[log in to unmask]>
>One other cause of ortographic chaos in English is its vowel system, with
>the (for non-English native speakers) weird opposition between lax and
>tense. AFAIK, none of the other widely spoken languages, or any other
>European language makes this opposition. Moreover, lax vowels tend to seem
>all the same schwa to non-English speakers (and this is responsible for the
>general feeling that "English is essentially [insert your choice language]
>spoken while chewing a very hot potatoe").

Those vowels tend to sound like all the same schwa to _native_ English
speakers too, which is why you so often see things like <definately> instead
of <definitely>, or <seperate> instead of <separate>.  There's even
<miniscule>, which is basically a second 'correct' spelling of <minuscule>
that ultra-pedants yell about.  (Even MS Word and Outlook Express's spell
checkers let it through, although Word only has thesaurus entries for
<minuscule>.)

    *Muke!