are phonemic mergers making spelling more difficult?

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Mega85
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are phonemic mergers making spelling more difficult?

Postby Mega85 » Thu Sep 22, 2016 2:05 am UTC

is spelling becoming more difficult as more and more phonemic mergers take place?

Derek
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Re: are phonemic mergers making spelling more difficult?

Postby Derek » Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:55 am UTC

Language drift in general makes spelling harder as modern pronunciations move away from the pronunciations that spellings were originally based on.

Mega85
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Re: are phonemic mergers making spelling more difficult?

Postby Mega85 » Thu Sep 22, 2016 10:16 pm UTC

is spelling eventually going to get so difficult that there will be few people that aren't bad at it, and therefore a spelling reform will be necessary?

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Carlington
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Re: are phonemic mergers making spelling more difficult?

Postby Carlington » Fri Sep 23, 2016 1:55 am UTC

How are you measuring the difficultly of spelling things? Without a metric for that, the question is kinda meaningless. And I mean, as it stands spelling is mostly just memorising a bunch of pictures and mapping them to sounds. I don't see what difference the particular pictures or mappings make, the memorisation shouldn't be any more or less difficult.
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Derek
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Re: are phonemic mergers making spelling more difficult?

Postby Derek » Fri Sep 23, 2016 3:30 am UTC

Carlington wrote:How are you measuring the difficultly of spelling things? Without a metric for that, the question is kinda meaningless. And I mean, as it stands spelling is mostly just memorising a bunch of pictures and mapping them to sounds. I don't see what difference the particular pictures or mappings make, the memorisation shouldn't be any more or less difficult.

English orthography isn't nearly so bad that pure memorization is required. Of course, read and write any word enough times and you will eventually memorize it, but new words and rare words do not work this way. Despite it's flaws, English orthography provides enough of a guide to usually read words correctly, and write words close to correctly.

The closest writing system to pure memorization is Japanese kanji (it's still not pure memorization), which requires years of studying characters to become fluent. If you look at how long it takes students or foreigners to learn to read and write Japanese versus English, you'll see that English is significantly easier. That difference is the difference between mostly memorization and mostly phonetic.

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Carlington
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Re: are phonemic mergers making spelling more difficult?

Postby Carlington » Fri Sep 23, 2016 4:39 am UTC

Sorry, I may have been unclear. The pictures in my post were supposed to refer to individual letters and digraphs (graphemes, I guess), that's what I meant by memorisation. Ultimately the mapping from grapheme to sound is arbitrary, so it shouldn't be any more or less difficult to memorise any given mapping. I was a bit hasty in my reply though, since the consistency of the mapping is important. It's not as straightforward as a one-to-one mapping from grapheme to phoneme, but I doubt the process of phonemic merging will ever result in a deliberate spelling reform on a large scale. There are languages whose mappings are less intuitive than that of English and who have not undergone spelling reform (take for example French, in which <aient> maps to /e/).
Kewangji: Posdy zwei tosdy osdy oady. Bork bork bork, hoppity syphilis bork.

Eebster the Great: What specifically is moving faster than light in these examples?
doogly: Hands waving furiously.

Please use he/him/his pronouns when referring to me.

lorb
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Re: are phonemic mergers making spelling more difficult?

Postby lorb » Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:53 am UTC

The problem I think arises when the mapping from graphemes to phonemes changes between words depending on factors that are independent from the orthography. An example would be the words "honest" vs "honed". The only reason one of them has a silent h is because it's a french loanword, but it's impossible to know that from it's spelling.
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Soupspoon
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Re: are phonemic mergers making spelling more difficult?

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:34 pm UTC

Not to muddy waters, but "honest" is (for me, in my personal dialect, etc) variably pronounced both with and without its 'h'. Hard to tell the precise borderline between the two, but when quoted as a single word, it gains h-voice, whilst "an honest" as a fragment is more natural than "a honest" is. Whilst "honestly" gets far less voicing. Perhaps because "HONestLY" is a hard emphasis grouping to justify, compared to merely "HONest", but then it's "an 'ONest job", as "a HONest job" sounds like an attempt at an affected accent, perhaps such as Thundirbirds's Parker in his HHaughty posh attitude (like pretending to be a lord, to distract the locals with Bingo).

But I would overwhelmingly, I think, voice the 'h' in "honed". Perhaps a personal affectation, though, as I'm sure my peers at school would (rarely have said the word but otherwise) have said it as a sound-alike to "owned". Aint dialect amazing?!? ;)


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