Logophily: Spelling Reform


linguistic shenanigans and writing tidbits

~by Joel Patton



English pronunciation surely requires a doughty constitution [1]. Imagine for a moment a world in which English spelling followed simple, logical rules, such that even a nonspeaker could tell at a glance how a word is pronounced.

And keep imagining it, because that shit will not happen.

Here are a few reasons why:

As with the QWERTY keyboard, we’re stuck with an odd system for historical reasons.  It would be hard to fix things now, even if we could all agree on a solution [2] [3]. There are a few historical reasons for these insane and nonsensical variations of pronunciation and spelling.  English spellings were standardized centrally, by late-medieval bureaucrats, more or less by fiat [4].  The influence of French, which has fourteen different ways of spelling no sound at all at the end of a word [5], has continued nearly a thousand years past the Battle of Hastings.  At some point, English stopped anglicizing the spellings of foreign words [6].  The Great Vowel Shift happened [7]. Continue reading