Gary Shannon: > --- And Rosta <[log in to unmask]> wrote: > > Gary Shannon: > > > The spelling could at least be regularized. IMO the > > main desideratum is that the orthography should > > facilitate the process of learning to read, > > I will respectfully disagree. The native English > speaker spends perhaps two or three years learning > to read and then another seventy to eighty years > or more actually reading. > > >From my perspective the principle goal should be > to make each word as quickly and easily > distinguishable as possible for the experienced > reader, even if that requires a bit more effort > at the outset to learn. > > I'm reminded of some old illustrated manuscripts > in Latin which, when viewed from more than 6 > inches away, look like endless repetition of the > same letter. There is very little to give each > word a distinctive shape. > > I'm trying to design a non-roman alphabet > (originally my idea was non-phonemic as well, > see the "alphagraphic" thread) which has letter > shapes that blend together into word shapes that > maximize distinctiveness-at-a-glance. If two words > cannot be told apart contaminated with ink spatters > and viewed through frosted glass then they are > too similar in shape and the alphabet needs more > work. We are conflating separate issues here: one issue concerns the alphabet (or other characters) and another issue concerns the conventions for mapping the characters to words. As for the choice of characters, on the downside there'd be the grief of abandoning a noble typographical and historical tradition, and on the upside there'd potentially be greater legibility and greater economy. Turning to the issue of the mapping, it is true that we spend far fewer years learning to read than we spend having learnt to read, yet we must also consider that our earliest years are of especial importance in our development, and that the travails and difficulties the writing system presents us with are not distributed evenly over our lifetimes but instead are concentrated in the years when we are learning to read. And the needless and most indefensible problems of our current orthography are especially concentrated in that phase. It's also the case that many of the features that make the orthography hard for adults to write, such as punctuation and heterograph homophones, compensatorily make it easier to read (in the sense of being less ambiguous), so the tradeoffs are more finely balanced here. But the balance is more decisive when it comes to considering what would make the orthography easier for children to learn to read it. --And.