Hey, all! You may have noticed that the title font has been changed. I decided I didn't like the super piratey feel that Berkshire Swash (the previous font) gave, so I changed it to a cursivey handwritten font I can't remember the name of. And I may or may not remember to change the font on my Twitter banner. Who knows?
Anyway, today we're talking about my thoughts on the whether or not English should get a spelling reform. (After the regular series, of course.)
You may recall that my last post was all about a book haul I did on Friday the nineteenth. Since then I've read 2 of the books I got!
The first was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I'm not sure if it's middle grade or YA, but all should read it! It's the story of Nobody "Bod" Owens being raised in a graveyard by ghosts, protected only in the graveyard from the man Jack, a serial killer who murdered his family when he was a baby. I consider it a classic of children's literature, and is certainly not only for children.
The second, keeping the theme, was City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, a middle grade about Cassidy Blake, a 12-y.o. girl who drowned but was brought back to life, and ever since has been able to contact ghosts. It's a nice, short but sweet tale of friendship and discovery.
(I actually remembered to use the new name today!) Today we're talking about maps in books. In my opinion, a map at the front of a book instantly improves my expectations and enjoyment of the story - even if it's not set in a different world, a map of the general surroundings is always appreciated by me.
One of the first maps in books I ever saw (or possibly the first) was the map of Alagaësia in Christopher Paolini's Eragon.
I love maps like these because they help me really explore the world, outside of even what the book mentions, and get me excited about stories to come. When I look at these large-scale fantasy world maps, my gears turn and my excitement builds almost nonstop.
There are, of course, countless other maps in books, but this one was at the forefront of my mind.
Am I allowed to talk about a meme flag? I think I am.
When it comes to political/ideological memes, the only one I really love is the meme of everything having to do with Communism using "our" instead of "my," and "we" instead of "I."
So when I saw this, I couldn't help but share it.
I found this on the joke vexillology subreddit, and it was titled CalifOURnia. I don't know why, but this has me cracking up! And the flag is just the Californian flag colored red and yellow with the text in Russian and the star replaced by a hammer and sickle.
For reference, this is the real Californian flag:
It's just hilarious to me. I don't know why.
CORRECTION: It's just hilarious to US. WE don't know why. My apologies, comrade.
Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Now, onto the main topic!
Should English Get a Spelling Reform?
The possibility of a spelling reform for English is a controversial topic among linguists. On one hand, it'd make the language a whole lot easier for native speakers of other languages to learn, and English is the current global lingua franca (lingua franca: n. A language used by speakers of different languages to communicate). On the other hand, because English is the current global lingua franca, there are so many dialects that one system of spelling could never possibly account for all the ways the language is pronounced.
I have, on multiple occasions, taken a shot at redesigning the language's spelling; however, these reforms only ever account for exactly how I pronounce the words, and do nothing for other dialects or for slang. For example:
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Ðə kwik brän foks jumps ōvər ðə lāzē dog.
Not all of the letters work well in this font, but oh well. In normal English spelling, that sentence contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet (it doesn't contain all... however many in the reform).
So maybe a total reform simply isn't possible. But what about a partial reform? When it comes to practicality, I'm in favor of this; simple changes such as changing all QUs to KWs, and changing all Cs to Ks and Ws (and hence likely changing CHs to Cs), and a bunch of other seemingly minor (but overall major) changes could be very good. See here:
The kwik brown foks jumps over the lazy dog.
And other sentences containing every letter:
Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow. becomes Sfinks of blak kwarts, juj my vow. (Not all dialects, including my own, pronounce the /w/ in quartz, but some do, so it's inclusive to use it.)
The quick onyx goblin jumps over the lazy dwarf. becomes The kwik oniks goblin jumps over the lazy dworf.
How razorback-jumping frogs can level six piqued gymnasts! becomes How razorbak-jumping frogs can levl siks peekd jimnists!
I think a spelling reform on that level would be very useful for non-native speakers learning the language, and would make English seem much more friendly to them. However, two problems come up still: A) (minor) a ton of interesting history to dissect is lost in the words, and B) (major) how would anyone actually be convinced to start using the reform?
I think that the latter is really the biggest problem with all of this; the vast majority of people would have no interest in relearning their spelling and then teaching it that way to their kids. There's a reason spelling reforms almost never work. The largest one that every succeeded was Noah Webster's reform of some of the spellings of words in specifically American English - and that was at a time in which not only were there way less English speakers, almost nobody in the US could read or write at the time! Webster only succeeded (and not even that with all of his suggested spelling reforms - such as changing tongue to tung and women to wimmen) because he was most Americans' only source of information for how words were to properly be spelled.
In the end, despite its theoretical usefulness, I am against the prospect of any kind of major (or major-ish) spelling reform for English. Please let me know your thoughts on the matter in the comments below!
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