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On 08/08/2017 23:31, Matthew George wrote:
> Is there an absolute need to distinguish homophones in the script?

No, there is no _absolute_ need for this.

> English has many words with multiple, incompatible meanings attached
>  to a single spelling and pronunciation - and context makes it 
> effortless to determine what is meant.

This was the point by Logan in his email of 29th July.  More recently
BPJ (aka Melroch) made the same point:
{quote}
The "homophone problem" should not be overrated. It is good to remember
that all those homophonous morphemes don't endanger *spoken*
communication at very much if at all since context normally take away
the ambiguity.
[snip]

I think that modern Hanzi users are conditioned to think that
homophonous morphemes must be all disambiguated in spelling not only
because with Hanzi most homophonous morphemes do have a distinct written
form each, but because Classical Chinese (Wenyan) if read out with a
modern pronunciation is indeed ambiguous beyond intelligibility, as Yuen
Ren Chao himself demonstrated in a very funny way:
<https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lion
Eating_Poet_in_the_Stone_Den>. The same is however absolutely not true
of modern spoken Chinese or else people would not be able to speak with
each other, but the fact is of course that spoken communication works
just as smoothly in modern Chinese 'dialects' as in any language.
{unquote}

> I can imagine that people used to having radically different symbols 
> for homophones might be nervous about phonetic spellings, but they're
> really not hard to distinguish in practice.

See BPJ above.

> Personally, I dislike the multiple forms for homophones, and I'd 
> prefer jettisoning spellings like rite, right, and write, and make 
> them all rait, but I don't have control over English.

Nor do any of us.  :)

Yes, Standard Modern Chinese (or any other 'dialect') can be Romanized
if one so wishes.  Victor, whose email began the thread, wanted to
modify Pinyin so that it distinguished homophones and suggested IIRC
doing so by using a smantic element or 'determiner' as, e.g. ancient
cuneiform scripts often did and as Egyptian hieroglyphic did.  Some of
us, myself included, said a better way, in our opinion, *IF one wanted a
Romanization that distinguished (most) homophones*, would be to start
with a Romnized reconstruction of Middle Chinese and modify it in a 
similar way that the orthographies of English and French use what is 
essentially a modified form of a historic based Romanization.
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On 09/08/2017 22:29, MorphemeAddict wrote:
> I'm just the opposite: I'd prefer all the pronunciations to have 
> unique spellings: read: reade, readd (along with 'red');

... and the town in Berkshire UK becomes Readding?    :)

> lead: leade, leadd, (along with 'led').


Yep, I've often thought that having _read_ = /ri:d/ as well as /rɛd/ and
_lead_ = /li:d/ as well as /lɛd/ quite silly, especially as while the
phonetic behavior of the two verbs are the same but the spelling
behaviour isn't!

Infinitive, simple present:   read /ri:d/       lead /li:d/
Preterite, past participle.   read /rɛd/         led /lɛd/

Barmy!

But, hey, that's getting us away from 'Reform to Chinese orthograhy'
and, as for reforms to English orthography, we already have more
proposed reforms that meets demand   ;)

Ray