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On Wednesday 29 January 2003 5:48 am, Tristan wrote:
> Joseph Fatula wrote:
>
> From: "Tristan" <[log in to unmask]>
>
> >Subject: Re: retroflex consonants
> >
> >>So explain to me why it was easier to tell the difference between the
> >>/8u/ in /st8ul/ and /st8un/ than the /T/ and /D/ in this and thin? ...
> >
> >I'd like to tell you, but I have no idea what words those are.  Is the
> >second one "stone", perhaps?
>
> Yes, and the first 'stole'. (To me, they're pronounced more like [stOul]
> and [st8un], though some broader Australian accents have [stOu] and/or
> [staun] or [st6un] or something ('cow' is something like [k_h&u] here,
> so there's no problem of us not understanding ourselves).)
>
> >This illustrates something I've noticed with English that few people seem
> > to agree with, so I'll mention it here.  The discrepancies between spoken
> > and written English have gotten pretty serious, at least in
> > pronunciation.  And while it causes plenty of problems, making the
> > troubles of English orthography well known, it does have one advantage.
> > In writing (at least, semi-formal writing), I can understand anyone who
> > knows English, even if they're from an area where I have a hard time
> > understanding the spoken English, such as the Bahamas, Australia,
> > Yorkshire, Kentucky, or those on the list whose spoken English might
> > sound unintelligible to my ears.  The diglossia that has developed (if
> > that's the term) between spoken and written "pronunciations" has made it
> > possible for widely divergent dialects to have a common written
> > communication form.  It seems to be similar to how Arabic and Chinese are
> > understood in their written form by people whose languages are closely
> > related, but not mutually intelligible.  Though I might be wrong on the
> > Arabic and Chinese, I have had times where I couldn't understand other
> > dialects of English, but I could understand their writing.
>
> But the problem is that unless we stop teaching English phonemically,
> the spellings are going to diverge. The current attitude towards correct
> spelling in teenagers is that it's not necessary and I have no idea
> whether that'll work its way up until eventually, I could publish a
> newspaper mixing up 'saw' and 'sore', or you one spelling 'father' as
> 'fother' with no-one locally will notice the difference, but it wouldn't
> surprise me...


I hope so.  The English spelling system needs some of it's Maggelity ironed
out of it.