"Reynolds, Gregg" wrote:
> Rather than ask if the orthography allows non-speakers to
> puzzle out the sound, I would ask if native speakers of normal intelligence
> can learn to read with reasonable effort.
I agree with this criterion, and I believe that English fails it: it
takes twice as long to learn English spelling as it should, more or less.
But a modest Wijk-style reform would eliminate most of that. We would know
(using Wijk's rules) that "ough" is to be pronounced as in "though" only,
and that "ar" has precisely three pronunciations: "bar" (final or
before a consonant), "care" (before a vowel or final silent e), and
"charity" (before a vowel, or when r is doubled). Words violating this
norm would be respelled: "scarce" uses the "ar" of "care", not of "bar",
and so the spelling "scairce" would represent it better. (I do not give
IPA renderings, since they depend on dialect.)
> Philosophical question: if somebody with absolutely no knowledge of English
> managed to produce sounds approximating an English utterance - say, "I've
> fallen in the woods and I can't get up" - would they be, ontologically,
> English sounds?
This reminds me of the philosopher's parrot (mentioned by Ray Smullyan)
who was trained to say "I don't understand a word I say." The philosopher
commented: "When *I* say that, it's viciously self-referential...but in
Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis vom dies! || John Cowan <email@example.com> Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau, || http://www.reutershealth.com Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau, || http://www.ccil.org/~cowan Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:20:56 EDT