July 23, 2000
6:55 AM   Subscribe

Well, I'm compleetly fed up with english speling for everything. Its so dammed inconsistant and ilogical, Ill never get the hang of it. Forchunately, now theres a way to express yourselfs using chinese-like english characters. It's called Yingzi and now you can write english as quickly as you can write for Fellini or for Peach
posted by lagado (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wai dont wii just spel things in a foneticlii korekt fashun? That wuld bii just as iisii.
posted by deckard at 8:02 AM on July 23, 2000

Personally, I love the sheer snobbery of having mastered the one language even the Chinese throw their hands in the air over. English...it's not so poetic, not so elegant, but by God at least it's full of contradictions.

Of course, being an American, it is also the only language I really speak. I have a smattering of Latin, Green and Hebrew, but not much...ten word vocabularies. I read them better than I speak them, and I don't read them well. Ah, well.
posted by Ezrael at 8:26 AM on July 23, 2000

What a lot of people don't know is that most English spellings were phonetic -- about 300 years ago. English is long overdue for a spelling reform, an in the mid 19th century Daniel Webster actually tried to do so in a small way, which is why Americans spell it "color" instead of the less reasonable "colour" used by our UK brethren. Another example is "plow" as opposed to "plough". But "plough" actually was how it used to be pronounced way back when, because the word ended in a gutteral sound.

I gather that Dutch has gone through three or four spelling reforms in the twentieth century alone. But there's no-one in a position to control English, so a spelling reform is impossible even though it's long overdue.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:02 AM on July 23, 2000

All languages should be thrown out the window. We should go back to grunting and farting to communicate. So long as we can keep the idea of men writing cursive in the snow...
posted by ZachsMind at 9:30 AM on July 23, 2000

There are several different "standard" pronunciations of english and dozens of widely used regional dialects like Southern, Mid-Western, New England, East Anglian, Broad Australian, Geordie, Cockney, Glaswegian, etc. What would be used for the phonetic standard? Or would every country adopt their own alphabet based on some accepted local standard pronunciation?

I can't see anyone ever being able to reach an agreement on this, no matter how useful it may be.
posted by cardboard at 9:57 AM on July 23, 2000

I'd have to agree with Zach, since it seems that many of the people I encounter in real life have already regressed to that point. Simple grunts and bodily noises seem to be the vogue right now.....
posted by elf_baby at 11:11 AM on July 23, 2000

'Broad Australian'?

Gotta admit, i've never heard the aussie lingo referred to like that. Mind you, most yanks have got buckley's chance of understanding half of what we say.
posted by cheaily at 3:10 PM on July 23, 2000

Whenever I see attempts at 'new' forms of language, it always strikes me as a bit geeky. Like the folks who spend hours trying to learn how to speak Klingon.

Speaking of languages (pun intended) whatever happened to Esperanto?
posted by aladfar at 5:55 PM on July 23, 2000

Of course the article is not intended to be taken seriously, instead it provides an easy way to understand the ideas behind Chinese writing by using english analogies.
If we all used Yingzi, you wouldn't need spelling reform or agree on a common pronounciation. Chinese characters expess words as a combination of an idea and a sound corelation with another word or group of words.
British English used to sound a lot more like North American English in the 16th century (particularly like the Newfie Canadian accent). Then there was a major shift in vowel sounds to produce the more recent English, Australian and New Zealand accents.
As dialect diverge phonetics and common spelling goes out the window.
How many english speakers can understand Dutch today? At one time it was the same language as English.
In contrast, two Chinese speaking mutually unintelligable dialects of Chinese such as Mandarin and Teo Chu (or even different languages like Japanese) can communicate with each other easily through the written word.
For all it clumsiness and difficulty to learn, I think that's frankly quite amazing.
posted by lagado at 6:54 PM on July 23, 2000

Just to throw in my $.02, ya'll will just havta come on down here to Texas and fix up the way we all talk. And if you think it's easy to figure out how to spell some of this good old Texas slang, think again.
posted by bjgeiger at 9:52 PM on July 23, 2000

Esperanto appears to be alive and well at the places you'd expect: www.esperanto.net and www.esperanto.org. I believe they're claiming more speakers than ever these days, but I'll bet their speakers per capita have declined...

posted by aurelian at 12:12 AM on July 24, 2000

We should actually be proud. Ours is the first culture to return to hieroglyphs (iconography) after adopting an alphabet.

pictographic writing presents its own challenges especially when it comes to expression of things that didn't really exist when the collection of pictograms were assembled. As a result you end up with naming which is fairly abstract (an example is mushroom in Japanese (and probably Chinese as well), which directly translates to "child of tree").

posted by plinth at 6:07 AM on July 24, 2000

If you hadn't heard about it, a guy named Mark Twain recently proposed a method for the improvement of English spelling. Perhaps we should encourage our legislators to adopt this new standard so that we can all live free of contradictions in our spelling.

Seriously though, I think the English language and spelling are just fine. It wasn't too terribly long ago (a couple of centuries) that English spelling wasn't all that strict and it was pretty much just an as-you-like-it approach. Maybe English isn't the best language for poetry or for learning to spell, but it presents great opportunities for wordplay thanks to ambiguous spelling and pronunciation. Shakespeare and other great wits have taken full advantage of this feature of the language. I think it's a fine tradeoff.
posted by daveadams at 6:30 AM on July 24, 2000

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