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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.