Linked by Eisel Mazard on Thu 14th Jun 2012 22:01 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes The average computer user might think that the number of languages their operating system supports is pretty long. OSX supports 22 languages, and Microsoft claims to support 96, but they're counting different regional dialects multiple times. But there are over 6000 languages, and though many of them are spoken by a dwindling few, there are some languages that are spoken by millions of people that are supported very poorly, if at all, by computer operating systems. The reason for the support being poor is that the people who speak those languages are poor, and are not good "markets." It's only because of the efforts of a few dedicated people that computing support for languages such as Burmese, Sinhalese, Pali, Cambodian, and Lao have been as good as they are, but the trends for the future are not good.
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RE: International Phonetic Alphabet
by Radio on Fri 15th Jun 2012 11:01 UTC in reply to "International Phonetic Alphabet"
Radio
Member since:
2009-06-20

Unlike metrication, any reform in spelling should preferably take place over a long period of time in order to prevent confusion (freight=frate; eight=ate?). It should also be completely coherent, and the invention of new letters (vide the pseudo-Icelandic known as ITA) or the assumption of many diacritical marks, such as bespatter the pages of modern Slavonic texts, should, so far as possible, be avoided.

It was suggested — by, among others, G. B. Shaw — that a convenient method of revision would involve the alteration or deletion of one letter, or associated group of letters, per year, thus giving the populace time to absorb the change.

For example, in Year 1, that useless letter 'c' would be dropped to be replased by either 'k' or 's', and likewise 'x' would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which 'c' would be retained would be in the 'ch' formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might well reform 'w' spelling, so that 'which' and 'one' would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish 'y', replasing it with 'i', and Iear 4 might fiks the 'g/j' anomali wonse and for all.

Jeneralli, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear, with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing the vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Ier 15 or sou, it wud fainali be posible tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez 'c', 'y' and 'x' — bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez — tu riplais 'ch', 'sh' and 'th' rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers of orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld. Haweve, sins xe Wely, xe Airiy, and xe Skots du not spik Ingliy, xei wud hev to hev a speling siutd tu xer oun lengwij. Xei kud, haweve, orlweiz lern Ingliy az a sekond lengwij at skuul!

Reply Parent Score: 6

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

While this anecdote is funny, it is not a seriously useful suggestion. I recommend that anyone interested in English spelling reform consult his friendly, neighborhood Google and do some research. It's a fascinating topic with many possibilities but no real probabilities.

My personal conclusion is that you can't fix English orthography without making the result practically a different language and, even if you could, you won't get buy-in from enough people to do it by fiat. It must be an extremely slow iterative process prosecuted by a growing pool of interested individuals across a timeframe of generations, by which I mean that if we started today I think a majority of speakers could be using what is effectively a fully reformed system in 200 years, but it will be necessary for most people to remain familiar with current conventions for at least twice as long as that.

Reply Parent Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Curious thing about that anecdote - if one reads it in a ~Latin way (as at least most European ~Latin script languages seem to be pronounced), even by somebody who doesn't know English, the result is quite... bearable. Certainly much more understandable than when the original EN orthography is read like that.

Well, OK, maybe it breaks down a bit in the last section ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2