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--- On Thu, 6/14/12, Andrew Jarrette <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> >> I am also ashamed of English because of its abysmal
> spelling and
> >> pronunciation system.  It is so extremely
> inconsistent and unpredictable, I
> >> would say probably the world's worst.  This is
> something that could be
> >> fixed if we wanted to.  I envy other languages
> that have more phonetic and
> >> more regular spelling systems, which are
> practically every other language
> >> on Earth.  But especially regular and
> near-phonetic are Finnish, the Slavic
> >> languages, Italian, and Spanish.  English
> should aspire to be like them.
> >>
> >
> >Could it be fixed?  Cultural intertia is more than
> "not wanting to" -- it's
> >a bit of a force of nature.  You could also say
> that the extremely
> >difficult to learn Chinese writing system could be fixed
> or replaced "if
> >the Chinese wanted to" -- but too many people already
> know how to read that
> >way.  I'm not saying we couldn't do periodic
> reforms as other languages do,
> >though it is tricky with no central authority.  But
> right now our current
> >system is working, and people don't really want to
> change it.
> 
> Where there's a will, there's a way.  There's just no
> will to do it in our modern society.  It would be too
> great an undertaking, and both the old and the new spelling
> would have to be taught.  It's not practical or
> sensible.  But if we wanted to, we could do it.

Nonsense. The spelling is fine -- the pronunciation is what's screwed up!
If we could just learn to say _rah-shee-OWN_ or _speh-shee-AHL_ and
so forth, you know, get the pronunciation back on track, we'd have that 
perceived problem licked straight away!

> I guess I'm a (language) purist.  I like things to stay
> the same, I find most change amounts to or results from decay.

Curious me wonders how far back in time you would have to go to find this
erehwonianly pure language? Or are you an Askman, for whom no tongue can
be called pure but the Original? English has never been pure. Even O.E. 
had its borrowings and showed considerable "decay" as you put it. 

> English is all the proof you need that grammatical gender is
> completely unnecessary.  I distinguish grammatical
> gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) from noun classes (as
> in Swahili): noun classes reflect natural, existent
> differences in qualities.  Grammatical gender does not
> correspond to anything in nature.

This is interesting, because "noun classes" is exactly what the modern
"grammatical gender" system is. Way back in the Pure Tongue days, as I
understand it, they had animacy and inanimiacy to deal with. The modern
gender categories are nothing more than a direct lineal descendant of
that earlier category.

For what it's worth, I don't much care for grammatical gender either, nor
do I see much point in having it.

> >My shame about English has led me to create a
> hypothetical English that
> >> could have evolved if it had retained its Germanic
> vocabulary and used it
> >> to form new words.  

I've never understood this canard of English having "lost" its Germanic
vocabulary. You are aware that there are dictionaries out there just
chock full of good plain English words that you can use today to replace
the borrowed Romance words, right?

> Of course, its spelling is phonetic, and like modern
> >> English, it has lost grammatical gender.  

We already spell English phonetically -- we just can't seem to be bothered
to pronounce it all right...

> >> It's my fantasy of what I wish modern English had been.  I'm working 
> >> on a dictionary of this language, I've got 687 pages so far, still a 
> >> long way to go.

Well, I think many of us would like to see what this other English can
do!

> >Been imagined.  Several times in fact.  Here's one example:
> >http://anglish.wikia.com/wiki/Headside
> >
> >I don't see the point.  Mutts are cool, and so is borrowing.
> 
> Actually, my language is not free of borrowing, there are
> plenty of Scandinavian, Old French, Middle Dutch, and Middle
> Low German words in it.  But the native vocabulary is
> completely preserved and is not replaced by foreign
> words.  

That's a shame. It's the rampant borrowing that gives English its robust
nature. Doing away with so much foreign vocabulary will inevitably make the
resulting language so much the poorer, in my opinion. Mind you, if what
you're doing is a sort of historical exercise, a what if English had
evolved differently and not borrowed so heavily; then I think that is a
more valid rationale.

> The borrowings complement the native words,
> providing vocabulary where the native language is
> deficient.  That is not the case in actual English,
> because in most cases in English foreign vocabulary replaced
> existing native words.  I guess I'm a purist, but I've
> always found that a shame, a tragedy even.  We killed
> our own words and substituted foreign words.

I think we just have a different perspective. I see it more as we took what
we wanted from other languages and made the words our own. Some good
old fashioned piracy that!

So, let's see how this English of yours looks! I've never sought to do a
reformed English as a conlang, though have worked on two Germanic conlangs
that are closely related to English. Though I daresay neither fit the
bill of linguistic purity!, though Avantimannish is probably much more
conservative at least grammatically, than English.

Padraic