Re: Shorthand (Re: Camion Code

Date: Sun Aug 22 1999 - 21:21:10 EDT

>OK, I *do* understand the etymological argument (with the
       exception of 'faux amis' like "derive"), but 'surely' its not
       'right' that the same sequence of 'signs' (presumably used to
       represent sounds) should have different pronunciations between
       'neighboring languages'!, for example "silence" in English and
       in French - no wonder we have difficulty learning foreign
       languages! (Bawndjoor, mawnseeur)

       By what measure do we determine what is 'right' for
       orthographies? They are conventions - commonly accepted
       practice - and once accepted, they take on a life of their own.
       Of course, that means that they become subject to criticism
       from time to time, and even change if there is enough concensus
       within the user community to adopt some other convention. But
       there isn't anything written anywhere that says that 'i' in
       English should be pronounced the same as in French. Obviously,
       it might be more convenient it they were pronounced the same,
       but there's nothing to say that one situation is right and the
       other wrong.

       You might be able to come up with a way of using CC to write
       English such that every English speaker can read and write it,
       but the fact is that language changes. 300 years from now, our
       descendents would be having this same argument over getting rid
       of the difficult-to-learn, arbitrary spellings based upon CC
       and replacing that impediment to functional literacy with
       something else.

>no wonder we have difficulty learning foreign languages!
       (Bawndjoor, mawnseeur)

       It used to be that "silence" was pronounced exactly the same in
       England as it was in France. But English phonology underwent
       changes that didn't occur in French phonology. The fact that
       the cognates in each language are still spelled the same has
       *absolutely nothing* to do with how hard or easy it is for any
       speaker of the one to learn the other. Do you really think that
       the English student of French assumes that they can determine
       how to pronounce French words by applying the English
       spelling-phonology rules on to French spellings? If they do,
       then they have a very naive understanding of language, and it
       is that naivete that is their impediment to learning, not the

       Note, by the way, that if the English spellings had changed to
       reflect the changes in English phonology, then that student
       learning French would have a harder time learning to read and
       spell French words.


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