1069: "Alphabet"

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Fire Brns » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:23 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:Or anywhere. It's so bad that English is diverging into dialects because of it's widespreadness.
Every language diverges into dialects, and 1000 years ago there were probably more divergent and mutually incomprehensible dialects in the British Isles alone than today exist all across the English speaking world.

You miss my point, because writing has no effect on how people talk English is diverging faster than other languages.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:29 pm UTC

XopherHalftongue wrote:Take another look.
Still not seeing it.

Fire Brns wrote:writing has no effect on how people talk English is diverging faster than other languages.
English is *not* diverging any faster than other languages, but I'm not even sure that's what you're arguing, because I can't make sense of that sentence.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby XopherHalftongue » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:38 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
XopherHalftongue wrote:Take another look.
Still not seeing it.


He (or she) said "prepossession" not "preposition." In response to my saying I was unprepossessing in person.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby KarenRei » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:55 pm UTC

dp2 wrote:
5th Earth wrote:The first thing I would do is reinstate the letter Thorn (þ). It's a perfectly good letter that serves a clear and obvious purpose and I don't know why we stopped using it in the first place.

Here's a reason: it simultaneously looks like a 'P', a 'D', a 'p', and a 'b'. The first and third are especially problematic when you write "thorn" using it.


No, it does not. You're just not used to seeing it in regular use. Many of the letters in the English alphabet a person who wasn't used to using them would have an issue with as being too similar.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby KarenRei » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:59 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:is there any real reason that the alphabet has the order it does anyway, other than tradition?


Because of the song? ;)

Really, though, it's just a system that's been built on top of something built on top of something etc way back in time, each new culture adopting and changing it slightly. In Icelandic, it's A Á B D Ð E É F G H I Í J K L M N O Ó P R S T U Ú V X Y Ý Þ Æ Ö

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:16 pm UTC

XopherHalftongue wrote:He (or she) said "prepossession" not "preposition."
oooooh
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby emeraldemon » Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:25 pm UTC

Germany actually did simplify its spelling rules recently:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_spelling_reform_of_1996

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby J Thomas » Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:45 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
chenille wrote:it would be a shame to distinguish them because of it.
Sure, but only because we happen not to ever use that difference to distinguish words. People still understand if you pronounce "kappa" with the same realization of /k/ that you'd normally only use in "key", so for English there's no need to use different characters. Just as there's no need to use four different characters for the /t/ phoneme, even though it is realized in ways that might be recognized as four distinct phonemes in another language.


Exactly! Only make the distinctions that are useful for the language.

So for example, the Shaw alphabet (which is the one I know most about since I first saw it when I was in elementary school) has two different characters to distinguish the vowel in "pen" from the vowel in "pin". At first I couldn't hear the difference between them and I tended to use them the way English spelling would use them, or just use the i one. They were there for the people who do hear them, and mostly people who hear them would see from my writing that I didn't hear them. I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with that.

The result is:

1. We don't have to spend a giant effort learning "correct" spelling.
2. We can't depend on people to use "correct" spelling.
3. We can detect regional accents in writing that might otherwise not be detected.

I think #1 is worth #2 and #3.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Fire Brns » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:02 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:writing has no effect on how people talk English is diverging faster than other languages.
English is *not* diverging any faster than other languages, but I'm not even sure that's what you're arguing, because I can't make sense of that sentence.

Because of it's widespread nature along with the fact that it's alphabet is more of a suggestion for sounds than a rule would kind of suggest it. Spanish is as widespread as well and guess what it has it's regional slang but is still more legible between areas. There was a bit implied and I would figure someone with a purple name is competent enough to understand what a person is implying within context of their previous statements.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:23 am UTC

Fire Brns wrote:[Because of it's widespread nature along with the fact that it's alphabet is more of a suggestion for sounds than a rule would kind of suggest it. Spanish is as widespread as well and guess what it has it's regional slang but is still more legible between areas.
English is completely legible between areas, too. And when it comes to pronunciation, Spanish really *is* quite different between areas. There are homophones in some dialects that aren't homophones in others, and different grammatical rules, and sounds that are completely left off in some accents.

Just like English, actually.

There was a bit implied and I would figure someone with a purple name is competent enough to understand what a person is implying within context of their previous statements.
When the bit implied is words or punctuation that you completely left out of your sentence, but which are necessary for it to make syntactic sense, the purple name doesn't help. It doesn't confer telepathy.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:13 am UTC

Fire Brns wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:writing has no effect on how people talk English is diverging faster than other languages.
English is *not* diverging any faster than other languages, but I'm not even sure that's what you're arguing, because I can't make sense of that sentence.

Because of it's widespread nature along with the fact that it's alphabet is more of a suggestion for sounds than a rule would kind of suggest it.


You say that writing has no effect on how people talk. English is diverging faster than other languages.

But radio and later TV have had a great big effect on how people talk. Plus the vastly increased mobility. 200 years ago, lots of people never went more than 20 miles from home in their lifetimes, and people had a big tendency to marry somebody who grew up within half a mile of them. Now in the USA lots of people go to college more than 100 miles from home and might marry somebody they meet there from some other country. Lots more migration tends to strongly reduce the regional accents. Lots of southern kids lose their southern accents in grade school and then replace them with fake TV southern accents as adolescents.

How would we measure how fast different languages are diverging? My guess is that various languages might instead be converging, but I have done nothing to test that.

Spanish is as widespread as well and guess what it has it's regional slang but is still more legible between areas.


How would we measure whether spanish is more legible between areas? There are more nations where spanish is a primary language than there are for english, I think. (I ought to look that up on the spot; maybe I'm wrong.) National barriers might tend to help languages split. Now spanish-language TV might tend to bring the dialects together, but they could have farther to go.

There was a bit implied and I would figure someone with a purple name is competent enough to understand what a person is implying within context of their previous statements.


The short blurb describing the various classes of moderators implies that they are self-selected cliques. To the extent that membership is decided by some influential individual, that individual might or might not base it on some sort of competence. It's probably better not to assume anything along those lines. And yet it's also probably better to be polite, which it could be argued neither you nor I are doing just now.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby fajro » Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:46 am UTC

The problem of English spelling

English grammar and punctuation are relatively easy. But English spelling is quite the reverse - probably the most irregular of all alphabetic systems. Not only can you not tell how to spell a word from hearing it spoken; you can’t even be sure how a word is spoken from the written word – a unique “double whammy”.

The reasons for this irregularity are complex and largely historical. But the economic and social costs are serious. English speaking children take on average three years longer to learn to read and write than others and some never succeed. Our dyslexics struggle in a way that Italian and Spanish children do not. Adult illiteracy remains stubbornly high (23%).

The English Spelling Society tries to address these problems by:

  • Raising awareness and researching the costs of English spelling.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of the various educational schemes for teaching spelling to children.
  • Offering its own solutions to those are struggling with spelling.
  • Seeking to open minds to the possibility of an eventual reform of English spelling in the interests of improved literacy.


The English Spelling Society:
http://www.englishspellingsociety.org

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Fire Brns » Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:52 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:writing has no effect on how people talk English is diverging faster than other languages.
English is *not* diverging any faster than other languages, but I'm not even sure that's what you're arguing, because I can't make sense of that sentence.

Because of it's widespread nature along with the fact that it's alphabet is more of a suggestion for sounds than a rule would kind of suggest it.


You say that writing has no effect on how people talk. English is diverging faster than other languages.

But radio and later TV have had a great big effect on how people talk. Plus the vastly increased mobility. 200 years ago, lots of people never went more than 20 miles from home in their lifetimes, and people had a big tendency to marry somebody who grew up within half a mile of them. Now in the USA lots of people go to college more than 100 miles from home and might marry somebody they meet there from some other country. Lots more migration tends to strongly reduce the regional accents. Lots of southern kids lose their southern accents in grade school and then replace them with fake TV southern accents as adolescents.

How would we measure how fast different languages are diverging? My guess is that various languages might instead be converging, but I have done nothing to test that.

Spanish is as widespread as well and guess what it has it's regional slang but is still more legible between areas.


How would we measure whether spanish is more legible between areas? There are more nations where spanish is a primary language than there are for english, I think. (I ought to look that up on the spot; maybe I'm wrong.) National barriers might tend to help languages split. Now spanish-language TV might tend to bring the dialects together, but they could have farther to go.

There was a bit implied and I would figure someone with a purple name is competent enough to understand what a person is implying within context of their previous statements.


The short blurb describing the various classes of moderators implies that they are self-selected cliques. To the extent that membership is decided by some influential individual, that individual might or might not base it on some sort of competence. It's probably better not to assume anything along those lines. And yet it's also probably better to be polite, which it could be argued neither you nor I are doing just now.

1.a. Literacy rates in English speaking nations are pretty high considering, it does effect how english speakers learn it. TV, also regional, America is lucky enough to have a general speaktype for it's tv -because all our actors are Canadian- but no one talks like people on tv, England and Australia have their own separate media. Let's look at the word you used as well "lots". 2 million people can be a lot of people, it is also less than 1 percent of the US population. Most tv shows don't get ratings that high. Most people don't go to school 100 miles away. Most still stay in their town, go to comunity college, watch basic cable (that local chanel where every commercial is made in a garage), and only go out of state to visit relatives.
b. China may be the only language truely converging but that is because of policies enforcing Mandarin over the other dialects in all public usage. Yes larger languages are growing in size and thousands of small ones are going extinct but that doesn't mean people are in any way becoming a unified same language society.

2. Spanish borders? Yes living in South America you probably don't go very far but they have a much less entertainment than the US so everyone sits around the radio for the soccer game. Everywhere else their alphabet is a bit more phonetic for the literate and for the illiterate they learn from each other's speech; that require more uniformity.

3. I wasn't suggesting self selecting cliques. Can anyone be a mod? I'd trust that a forum for a pretty popular webcomic would have some sort of screening process or parameters. At least he could have guessed at what I was saying and asked if that was a correct interpretation. He took the insulting route of assuming I was stringing random words together; you're taking the insulting route of acting amazed that I was insulted.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:07 am UTC

Fire Brns wrote:no one talks like people on tv
Yes they most certainly do. There are *slight* regional differences, but they are nowhere near as significant as they'd be if there were no mass media.

England and Australia have their own separate media.
Which shows tons of American programming.

Most still stay in their town, go to comunity college, watch basic cable (that local chanel where every commercial is made in a garage)
Except, not every commercial is local and 75% or so of the time is taken up by regular shows which are definitely not local to most of the country.

Yes living in South America you probably don't go very far but they have a much less entertainment than the US so everyone sits around the radio for the soccer game. Everywhere else their alphabet is a bit more phonetic for the literate and for the illiterate they learn from each other's speech; that require more uniformity.
Even 10 years ago, South America had more than 1 TV per 4 people. Also, I'm not sure how any of that can require more uniformity than we have in the US. Less mass media means less uniformity, not more.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Jamaican Castle » Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:59 am UTC

Fire Brns wrote:Spanish is as widespread as well and guess what it has it's regional slang but is still more legible between areas.

Spanish has an entire grammatical person (second plural, vosotros) that isn't used anywhere outside of Spain (i.e., the entire Americas). If that's not divergence, I don't know what is.

Anyway, having a spelling system that's divorced from pronunciation (or, rather, each dialect interpreting the pronunciation differently) actually helps written communication between the different dialects - no matter how they pronounce them, they all spell and use the words identically. A true phonetic English would either have to lose this mutual comprehensibility in writing (because the same words are spelled differently in different areas, true to their pronunciations) or enforce a single "correct" dialect across the whole language.

Besides, if we're managing to have this entire argument in it, English can't be that bad.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Tyris and Cortle » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:26 am UTC

uaswell wrote:You can also just [turn a statement into a question] by changing how you pronounce it
I know we do it and so do Spanish-speakers. I.E.
We're going to the park?
¿Vamos al parque?
I wasn't expecting a Spanish preposition.

gmalivuk wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:Or anywhere. It's so bad that English is diverging into dialects because of it's widespreadness.
Every language diverges into dialects, and 1000 years ago there were probably more divergent and mutually incomprehensible dialects in the British Isles alone than today exist all across the English speaking world.
And the usual complaint is that the disappearance of all those dialects (frequently blamed on radio and later television) is a bad thing. Mutual comprehensibility comes at the expense of flavour.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:43 pm UTC

And I can somewhat sympathize with that position. I was merely saying it's absurd to claim that modern, extremely widespread English is diverging even *faster* than it had 1000 years ago when it was mostly confined to a single island or two.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Pressed Bunson » Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:29 pm UTC

Tyris and Cortle wrote:And the usual complaint is that the disappearance of all those dialects (frequently blamed on radio and later television) is a bad thing. Mutual comprehensibility comes at the expense of flavour.
If I'm talking to someone, I'd rather be able to understand what they're saying than be able to think to myself "Oh, her accent is different from mine!"

I'm not asking for the complete eradication of dialects, just that they be easier for someone who isn't familiar with it to understand.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Pressed Bunson » Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:31 pm UTC

Tyris and Cortle wrote:And the usual complaint is that the disappearance of all those dialects (frequently blamed on radio and later television) is a bad thing. Mutual comprehensibility comes at the expense of flavour.
But one could argue that mutual comprehensibility is more desirable than flavor.

Though flavor is not necessarily a bad thing.

EDIT: Pardon the double post, I thought my post didn't load the first time.
Last edited by Pressed Bunson on Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:57 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Fire Brns » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:26 pm UTC

Jamaican Castle wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:Spanish is as widespread as well and guess what it has it's regional slang but is still more legible between areas.

Spanish has an entire grammatical person (second plural, vosotros) that isn't used anywhere outside of Spain (i.e., the entire Americas). If that's not divergence, I don't know what is.

Except that non Spain uses one less of their 17 different pronouns and conjugations instead of adding words and changing definitions. Excluding Mexico city slang it is easier for two Spanish speakers from completely different areas to understand each other than two English speakers.

Also alphabets were I thought introduced to unify regional languages into a unified common central one. At least that is why Cyrill introduced his to far east Europe.

I understand your point G. I wasn't comparing English now to English a 1000 years ago but to other current international languages
Tyris and Cortle wrote:
uaswell wrote:You can also just [turn a statement into a question] by changing how you pronounce it
I know we do it and so do Spanish-speakers. I.E.
We're going to the park?
¿Vamos al parque?
I wasn't expecting a Spanish preposition.

SHUT up and TAKE my INTERNETS!
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:25 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:Except that non Spain uses one less of their 17 different pronouns and conjugations instead of adding words and changing definitions.
Unless you live in one of the countries or regions that does have a "vos" form but not the full "vosotros".

Excluding Mexico city slang it is easier for two Spanish speakers from completely different areas to understand each other than two English speakers.
Most of the Mexicans I taught would have to disagree about things like Cuban Spanish. Do you have any actual research that backs up your claim, like studying how comprehensible native speakers in fact find other dialects?

Also alphabets were I thought introduced to unify regional languages into a unified common central one. At least that is why Cyrill introduced his to far east Europe.
Alphabets were introduced so people could write. And what unification are you referring to? The list of languages that use Cyrillic encompasses quite a lot more than just Russian, or even just Slavic languages.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby whateveries » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:39 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
England and Australia have their own separate media.
Which shows tons of American programming.


Also scads of English content, some New Zealand content, a significant proportion of Canadian content and, oddly, even some German content with hyper paced translations to try and keep up with the natural verbosity. Every now and then we might get some Australian content but that is mostly just 'reality' shows where they scrape the best examples the lowest common denom's and put them in front of a camera and wait for the tears. You pick the homonym, both work.

For years, the older generation have complained about this cultural colonisation, and it occurs in part because of the percieved 'Terra nullus' status of Australian culture, percieved that is, by a select set of what most of the rest of the country like to call 'those Sydney wankers' or 'those Melbourne tossers'. sometimes even with affection.

For the rest of us Australians have what we call a 'cultural cringe' which could be seen on any australians face whenever that mad dead bastard Steve Irwin would shove his thumb up some reptiles bottom and exclaim 'crikey!' or 'Strewth' .Luckily these horrific anachronisms have dropped rapidly out of popular use in the last thirty years, I suspect not becuase of cultural colonisation, but because we got tired of being percieved as dickheads.

Although, pretty much all of the content provided by Australians on YouTube would indicate, that, we are, sadly, a nation of dickheads. but bonza dickheads mate.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby dp2 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:29 pm UTC

goofy wrote:
dp2 wrote:
drc500free wrote:First day of Linguistics, our professor asked us if c and k made the same sound. Then she had us say "car key" and note where in our mouth the "c" and "k" were formed. Blew my mind.

.....I don't get it. The mouth only changes for the vowel.

Explain to me how "kar" sounds different than "car".


The initial consonant in "car" is pronounced slightly further back in the mouth than the initial consonant in "key". This is because the following vowel influences the pronunciation of the consonant. It has nothing whatsoever to do with spelling.

That's my point. I think. The professor who brought up "car key" was arguing that 'c' and 'k' sound different and tried to prove it with words with different vowels. That's a poor proof.

Does anyone here really think the 'k' in 'karma' sounds different than the 'c' in 'car'?

Edit: sorry, I broke the quote tags somehow.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:19 pm UTC

dp2 wrote:
goofy wrote:
dp2 wrote:
drc500free wrote:First day of Linguistics, our professor asked us if c and k made the same sound. Then she had us say "car key" and note where in our mouth the "c" and "k" were formed. Blew my mind.

.....I don't get it. The mouth only changes for the vowel.


Explain to me how "kar" sounds different than "car".


The initial consonant in "car" is pronounced slightly further back in the mouth than the initial consonant in "key". This is because the following vowel influences the pronunciation of the consonant. It has nothing whatsoever to do with spelling.

That's my point. I think. The professor who brought up "car key" was arguing that 'c' and 'k' sound different and tried to prove it with words with different vowels. That's a poor proof.

Does anyone here really think the 'k' in 'karma' sounds different than the 'c' in 'car'?


More important, why should we care?

When you write in cursive the h in "oh" starts out highe than the h in "ah" because of the way "o" and "a" end. But it's an h either way and you read it as an h.

Consider the little differences in sound that a voice recognition program tries to ignore, versus the little differences that it tries to use. The latter are part of the language. The former are accidents or spandrels or something.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby whateveries » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:10 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
dp2 wrote:
goofy wrote:
dp2 wrote:
drc500free wrote:First day of Linguistics, our professor asked us if c and k made the same sound. Then she had us say "car key" and note where in our mouth the "c" and "k" were formed. Blew my mind.

.....I don't get it. The mouth only changes for the vowel.


Explain to me how "kar" sounds different than "car".


The initial consonant in "car" is pronounced slightly further back in the mouth than the initial consonant in "key". This is because the following vowel influences the pronunciation of the consonant. It has nothing whatsoever to do with spelling.

That's my point. I think. The professor who brought up "car key" was arguing that 'c' and 'k' sound different and tried to prove it with words with different vowels. That's a poor proof.

Does anyone here really think the 'k' in 'karma' sounds different than the 'c' in 'car'?


More important, why should we care?

When you write in cursive the h in "oh" starts out highe than the h in "ah" because of the way "o" and "a" end. But it's an h either way and you read it as an h.

Consider the little differences in sound that a voice recognition program tries to ignore, versus the little differences that it tries to use. The latter are part of the language. The former are accidents or spandrels or something.


Nice Reframe Mr T. Which got me thinking about reframing.

Perhaps the 'difficult orthography' of the english alphabet a good thing, certainly the cultures that use the english language have flourished.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Derek » Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:14 am UTC

jonadab wrote:At minimum, we need distinct vowel letters for each of the following:
a in hat (Anglo short a)
e in bed (Anglo short e)
i in pig, y in gym (Anglo short i)
o in hot (Anglo short o)
u in mud (Anglo short u)
a in bake, e in cliche (Anglo long a, Latin e)
e in feet, i in cliche, y in lynx (Anglo long e, latin i)
i in ice, y in hype (Anglo long i, technically a diphthong but extremely common)
o in soap (Anglo long o, Latin o)
u in flute, oo in boot (Anglo long u, Latin u)
a in father (Latin a), MAYBE could be combined with Anglo short o.
o in dog (technically a diphthong but extremely common)
u in put, oo in book

Several fairly common diphthongs probably could use their own letters while we're at it, just to reduce the frequency of vocalic digraphs, although these are not as important as the ones above:
ou in loud, ow in howl
ew in newt, also often spelled eu in the current orthography
aw in dawn, sometimes spelled au (different from o in hot in many, albeit not all, dialects)
oi in oil

You have identified four vowels here where no English dialect has ever (to my knowledge) had more than three. Those three are 'o' /ɒ/, 'ah' /ɑ/, and 'aw' /ɔ/. Most Americans merge 'o' and 'ah', and some Americans merge all three. Since I'm in the latter group I won't attempt to determine where your four examples should go, but at least two of your examples share the same vowel in any form of English. (Also, in most dialects they're all monophthongs)

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Skydiver » Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:12 pm UTC

I came up with a spelling reform of my own. Nothing original, obviously, just a set of new rules that _could_ possibly be taken into use.

http://blog.ampli.fi/proposal-for-an-english-language-spelling-reform/

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Burroughs » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:55 pm UTC

As a linguist I've always disliked alphabets, they don't represent the actual sounds in the language. We should all use the IPA instead. Listening to French speakers is very nice, but when you see French written down it seems like they give up half way through the words - this will no longer be the case if we used the IPA. There would be no concerns about correct pronunciation of any languages or words if we all used it.

The letter 'U' is actually in the IPA, though :)

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Burroughs » Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:10 am UTC

Derek wrote:
jonadab wrote:At minimum, we need distinct vowel letters for each of the following:
a in hat (Anglo short a)
e in bed (Anglo short e)
i in pig, y in gym (Anglo short i)
o in hot (Anglo short o)
u in mud (Anglo short u)
a in bake, e in cliche (Anglo long a, Latin e)
e in feet, i in cliche, y in lynx (Anglo long e, latin i)
i in ice, y in hype (Anglo long i, technically a diphthong but extremely common)
o in soap (Anglo long o, Latin o)
u in flute, oo in boot (Anglo long u, Latin u)
a in father (Latin a), MAYBE could be combined with Anglo short o.
o in dog (technically a diphthong but extremely common)
u in put, oo in book

Several fairly common diphthongs probably could use their own letters while we're at it, just to reduce the frequency of vocalic digraphs, although these are not as important as the ones above:
ou in loud, ow in howl
ew in newt, also often spelled eu in the current orthography
aw in dawn, sometimes spelled au (different from o in hot in many, albeit not all, dialects)
oi in oil

You have identified four vowels here where no English dialect has ever (to my knowledge) had more than three. Those three are 'o' /ɒ/, 'ah' /ɑ/, and 'aw' /ɔ/. Most Americans merge 'o' and 'ah', and some Americans merge all three. Since I'm in the latter group I won't attempt to determine where your four examples should go, but at least two of your examples share the same vowel in any form of English. (Also, in most dialects they're all monophthongs)


Actually, those three are more common in England and Ireland than they would be in the U.S., they are real vowel sounds.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:19 am UTC

Burroughs wrote:
Derek wrote:You have identified four vowels here where no English dialect has ever (to my knowledge) had more than three.
Actually, those three are more common in England and Ireland than they would be in the U.S., they are real vowel sounds.
Okay, but that doesn't address the issue with there being four in that list.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby J Thomas » Thu Jun 21, 2012 2:08 am UTC

Derek wrote:
jonadab wrote:A
o in hot (Anglo short o)
a in father (Latin a), MAYBE could be combined with Anglo short o.
o in dog (technically a diphthong but extremely common)

Several fairly common diphthongs probably could use their own letters while we're at it, just to reduce the frequency of vocalic digraphs, although these are not as important as the ones above:

aw in dawn, sometimes spelled au (different from o in hot in many, albeit not all, dialects)
You have identified four vowels here where no English dialect has ever (to my knowledge) had more than three. Those three are 'o' /ɒ/, 'ah' /ɑ/, and 'aw' /ɔ/. Most Americans merge 'o' and 'ah', and some Americans merge all three. Since I'm in the latter group I won't attempt to determine where your four examples should go, but at least two of your examples share the same vowel in any form of English. (Also, in most dialects they're all monophthongs)


I'm not sure I got that. Are you saying that the o in dog is not needed because every english dialect mixes it with the same one of the other three? Or that every english dialect mixes it with one or another of the other three? Like, some make dog sound like hot while others make it sound like dawn?

I'd figure if there really are four sounds there and for any pair there's a dialect that distinguishes between them, it doesn't do much harm to have four symbols for the sounds. Then people can write without having to think about spelling, Sometimes people might have to puzzle things out a little when they read, but I don't expect that to be a big problem.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Derek » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:21 am UTC

EDIT: Double post.
Last edited by Derek on Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:25 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Derek » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:21 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:
Derek wrote:
jonadab wrote:A
o in hot (Anglo short o)
a in father (Latin a), MAYBE could be combined with Anglo short o.
o in dog (technically a diphthong but extremely common)

Several fairly common diphthongs probably could use their own letters while we're at it, just to reduce the frequency of vocalic digraphs, although these are not as important as the ones above:

aw in dawn, sometimes spelled au (different from o in hot in many, albeit not all, dialects)
You have identified four vowels here where no English dialect has ever (to my knowledge) had more than three. Those three are 'o' /ɒ/, 'ah' /ɑ/, and 'aw' /ɔ/. Most Americans merge 'o' and 'ah', and some Americans merge all three. Since I'm in the latter group I won't attempt to determine where your four examples should go, but at least two of your examples share the same vowel in any form of English. (Also, in most dialects they're all monophthongs)


I'm not sure I got that. Are you saying that the o in dog is not needed because every english dialect mixes it with the same one of the other three? Or that every english dialect mixes it with one or another of the other three? Like, some make dog sound like hot while others make it sound like dawn?

I'd figure if there really are four sounds there and for any pair there's a dialect that distinguishes between them, it doesn't do much harm to have four symbols for the sounds. Then people can write without having to think about spelling, Sometimes people might have to puzzle things out a little when they read, but I don't expect that to be a big problem.

I'm saying that between those four examples, there are no more than three phonemes in any given dialect of English, so I wasn't sure why he listed four example. Now that you mention, some of those words do use different low-back phonemes in different dialects, even when both phonemes are available in both dialects. I had not considered this before. Wikipedia lists five different lexical sets that use a low-back vowel in some dialect (and four that use a low-back vowel in all dialects). I guess you could try to represent these lexical sets independently in writing, but I probably wouldn't, and would just stick to the three phonemes.
Last edited by Derek on Thu Jun 21, 2012 2:49 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby VanI » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:08 am UTC

dp2 wrote:Does anyone here really think the 'k' in 'karma' sounds different than the 'c' in 'car'?


Interestingly enough, I actually pronounce them differently. The knowledge that "karma" is from an Indic language causes me to pronounce it without (or at least with less) aspiration than "car" - /kɑrmə/ vs /kʰɑr/. I don't know that it actually reflects the source language, but it's kind of instinctive.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby J Thomas » Thu Jun 21, 2012 11:45 am UTC

Derek wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
Derek wrote:
jonadab wrote:A
o in hot (Anglo short o)
a in father (Latin a), MAYBE could be combined with Anglo short o.
o in dog (technically a diphthong but extremely common)

Several fairly common diphthongs probably could use their own letters while we're at it, just to reduce the frequency of vocalic digraphs, although these are not as important as the ones above:

aw in dawn, sometimes spelled au (different from o in hot in many, albeit not all, dialects)
You have identified four vowels here where no English dialect has ever (to my knowledge) had more than three. Those three are 'o' /ɒ/, 'ah' /ɑ/, and 'aw' /ɔ/. Most Americans merge 'o' and 'ah', and some Americans merge all three. Since I'm in the latter group I won't attempt to determine where your four examples should go, but at least two of your examples share the same vowel in any form of English. (Also, in most dialects they're all monophthongs)


I'm not sure I got that. Are you saying that the o in dog is not needed because every english dialect mixes it with the same one of the other three? Or that every english dialect mixes it with one or another of the other three? Like, some make dog sound like hot while others make it sound like dawn?

I'd figure if there really are four sounds there and for any pair there's a dialect that distinguishes between them, it doesn't do much harm to have four symbols for the sounds. Then people can write without having to think about spelling, Sometimes people might have to puzzle things out a little when they read, but I don't expect that to be a big problem.

I'm saying that between those four examples, there are no more than three phonemes in any given dialect of English, so I wasn't sure why he listed four example. Now that you mention, some of those words do use different low-back phonemes in different dialects, even when both phonemes are available in both dialects. I had not considered this before. Wikipedia lists [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_vowels#Vowels]five different lexical sets[/ur] that use a low-back vowel in some dialect (and four that use a low-back vowel in all dialects). I guess you could try to represent these lexical sets independently in writing, but I probably wouldn't, and would just stick to the three phonemes.


Say you leave one out, and you give examples of their use (like "hot" "father" "dawn"). Are there any significant English dialects where people would feel like two of these sound the same but an important vowel is missing?

If not, the alphabet would be simpler with one less letter.

Incidentally, does the Shaw alphabet leave out anything important?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavian_alphabet
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Derek » Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:10 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Say you leave one out, and you give examples of their use (like "hot" "father" "dawn"). Are there any significant English dialects where people would feel like two of these sound the same but an important vowel is missing?

If not, the alphabet would be simpler with one less letter.

I don't think so. I think you would find people disagree about which vowel "dog" and "cloth" use though (this set could potentially have any of the three phonemes, depending on the dialect).

Incidentally, does the Shaw alphabet leave out anything important?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavian_alphabet

It has a letter for each of those vowel, plus a single letter for "ar" (which is the same as the vowel of "father" in non-rhotic dialects, but in rhotic dialects it's a vowel+consonant). For the rest of the sounds, it seems pretty complete, although some of the letters seems redundant to me. The only thing missing is "wh", which some dialects (like my dad's) still pronounce distinctly form "w".

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby J Thomas » Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:24 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
J Thomas wrote:Say you leave one out, and you give examples of their use (like "hot" "father" "dawn"). Are there any significant English dialects where people would feel like two of these sound the same but an important vowel is missing?

If not, the alphabet would be simpler with one less letter.

I don't think so. I think you would find people disagree about which vowel "dog" and "cloth" use though (this set could potentially have any of the three phonemes, depending on the dialect).


We have to expect that with any phonetic alphabet.

Incidentally, does the Shaw alphabet leave out anything important?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavian_alphabet

It has a letter for each of those vowel, plus a single letter for "ar" (which is the same as the vowel of "father" in non-rhotic dialects, but in rhotic dialects it's a vowel+consonant). For the rest of the sounds, it seems pretty complete, although some of the letters seems redundant to me. The only thing missing is "wh", which some dialects (like my dad's) still pronounce distinctly form "w".


Thank you! I expect they'd use the haha sound followed by the woe sound, but a combined letter would be good.
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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Derek » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:50 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:I expect they'd use the haha sound followed by the woe sound, but a combined letter would be good.

That's kind of what it sounds like, yes, but they're sort of pronounced at the same time. It's usually transcribed in IPA as either /hw/ or /ʍ/. An alternative to a separate letter would be to preserve the existing "wh" spelling (except in words like "who", where it has universally become /h/) or reverse the letters to the more logical (and older) "hw".

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby Kennebrek » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:31 pm UTC

rhomboidal wrote:My obsessive-compulsive side has always wanted to eliminate one of the letters just to make it a tidy 25.


Why not add one, to make a tidy 27?

Surely you don't think 2^5 is tidier than 3^3...
Last edited by Kennebrek on Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:57 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1069: "Alphabet"

Postby willaaaaaa » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:41 pm UTC

I think you mean 5^2?

Yeah, I always wished there were 25 letters, for purposes of those square grid substitution cipher things that I loved as a kid...people always ended up squeezing Y and Z into the same square or something like that.
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