LINGUIST List 9.1518

Fri Oct 30 1998

Disc: German Spelling Reform

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Paola Beninca', Re: 9.1511, Disc: German Spelling Reform
  2. Peter T. Daniels, Re: 9.1511, Disc: German Spelling Reform
  3. Martin Haspelmath, Disc: Spelling Reform
  4. Jens S. Larsen, Re: 9.1511, Disc: German Spelling Reform

Message 1: Re: 9.1511, Disc: German Spelling Reform

Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 10:23:41 +0100 (MET)
From: Paola Beninca' <benincaux1.unipd.it>
Subject: Re: 9.1511, Disc: German Spelling Reform

Fortunately, most of what I wanted to write to linguist about Spelling
reform has been said very well by Richard Sproat. Orthography is a very
delicate matter to deal with, it has to do not directly with sounds but with
the mental representation of words (lexical and functional elements and
their relations): this is not just a generative point of view (Chomsky and
halle 1968, p.49), linguists and grammarians of the XVII-XIXc, undertaking
the description of dialects without an official orthography (spelling)
realised that it is impossible to have a natural spelling that directly
reflects the sound of a language; there has to be a discrepancy between
sounds and signs, as a consequence of morphological alternations and related
phonological rules. Orthography, with its apparent inconsistency, has the
task to express mophological relations between lexical elements and mantain
recognisable the lexical basis of all 'lexical families'. Spelling reforms
affect a very subtle (and not always evident) net through which the
linguistic elements of a language are held together. 
*******************
Paola Beninca'
Dipartimento di Linguistica
via Beato Pellegrino, 1
I-35137 Padova
Italy

tel. (+39)049.827.4915
fax (+39)049.827.4919
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Message 2: Re: 9.1511, Disc: German Spelling Reform

Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 18:46:06 -0500
From: Peter T. Daniels <grammatimworldnet.att.net>
Subject: Re: 9.1511, Disc: German Spelling Reform

> From: "Patrick C. Ryan" <proto-languageemail.msn.com>
> 
> Personally, I favor phonetic spelling of English so that GHOTI cannot be
> read as /fish/ as GBS correctly observed it could be.

<GHOTI> cannot be read as /fiS/, regardless of what the ill-informed
Shaw suggested. <gh> represents [f] only in the context <ou__> (and then
only in a handful of forms); <o> represents [i] in a single, truly
anomalous form, <women>; and <ti> represents [S] in a readily
identifiable closed set of Latinate suffixes (details available in any
compendium on English spelling).

Shaw was simply wrong to suggest that an orthography must or should be
surface-phonetic, and the Shaw Alphabet devised under the terms of his
will is singularly ill suited for the representation of English (because
of insufficiently distinct letterforms, in addition to the entirely
non-morph(ophon)emic approach to spelling).
- 
Peter T. Daniels				grammatimworldnet.att.net
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Message 3: Disc: Spelling Reform

Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 08:50:07 +0000
From: Martin Haspelmath <haspelmatheva.mpg.de>
Subject: Disc: Spelling Reform

Richard Sproat writes:

 What is much less clear is whether being forced to spend time learning

 a complex writing system is detrimental to one's long-term educational

 well-being, and this seems to be the more important point.

I don't know -- it just seems a terrible waste of time to me, for
millions of people. If English spelling had been reformed slightly every
50 years over the past centuries, all users of English would be better
off today.

Patrick Ryan writes:

 Where is the disaster? Students with normal learning abilities have
been mastering it for centuries.
 

Yes, SOME students. But until a few decades ago, only the rich have been
able to afford learning to read and write. Nowadays, everybody goes to
school and most people learn to read, but few English-speaking people
learn to spell their language correctly (of course, except for those
whose professional work includes formal writing, i.e. everybody who is
reading this posting).

I find a spelling system more democratic that gives everyone equal
access to reading AND writing. Of course, there are few such writing
systems (Finnish and Serbo-Croatian are probably exceptional among major
national languages), but that's because writing has rarely been
"democratic" in the past.

As Gisbert Fanselow said in the context of the German spelling reform
discussion, it's no accident that by and large, progressive observers
have supported the reform, whereas the opponents have been
conservatives.

Martin Haspelmath
Max-Planck-Institut fuer evolutionaere Anthropologie, Leipzig
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Message 4: Re: 9.1511, Disc: German Spelling Reform

Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 11:24:54 +0100 (MET)
From: Jens S. Larsen <jenscphling.dk>
Subject: Re: 9.1511, Disc: German Spelling Reform


> Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 18:11:54 -0500
> From: "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatimworldnet.att.net>
> Subject: Re: 9.1504, Disc: German Spelling Reform
> 
> Why should spelling be a matter of legislation?

Because legislation is a matter of spelling.


 **********************************************************
 * Jens S. Larsen, lingvistikstudent, Kbenhavn/Kopenhago *
 **********************************************************
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