Sat 23 Nov, 2002 02:37 pm
Re: Why English spelling is absurd.
Craven de Kere wrote:
It's really the French's (the Dutch's, too, but more about them later) fault that English spelling is so absurd, for itt 1066 the Normans invaded England and brought with them their own language,
The Norman spoke a dialect of Old French known as Anglo-Norman. The Normans were also of Germanic stock ("Norman" comes from "Norseman") and Anglo-Norman was a French dialect that had considerable Germanic influences in addition to the basic Latin roots.
Regarding Caxton just some info:
William Caxton (born c. 1422, , Kent, England, died 1491, London) was originally a wealthy wool trader and the "Governor of the English Nation of Merchant Adventurers" in the Low Countries.
Later, Caxton had learnt printing in Cologne (Germany) [1470 - 1472], set up a printing maschine in Brugge [Flandre] and printed there some books in French before he started printing in London.
He used and was famed for his Black Letter type which imitated the writing of the Haarlem monks. (Most early printing types were calligraphic - they imitated handwriting, btw.) With his printing, Caxton did a lot of standardisating the English language.
I just wish Caxton had used an iota of logic. It's a pity that the language languished with no standards for so long.
One of the great things about the phonetic spelling of English in Medieval times is that it gives us a good inkiling of what the language sounded like at that time. A word was pronounced pretty near the way it was spelled. That is why we can recite Chaucer's lines with a fair amount of assurance that a person of Chaucer's time would understand what we were saying quite well. And even though by Shakespeare's time spelling had become much more standardized, still it was unregulated enough to enable us to get a fair idea of the idiom of the time. (Trivial aside: In Shakespeare's last will and testament, the very name 'Shakespeare' is spelled four different ways in four different places, including Shackspear at one point, making us wonder whether he actually promounced it the way we do.)
I thought that Guggenheim invented a printing machine in the 1700's
or - was his different?
Ä vel, fpelun, in thuh phaInal änæläfis, if pûrlee kunfynçænol, no?
Examples of the good ole Phonetic days:
debt used to be dette, till scholars returning from Rome decided that dette was "vulgar" and decided to make it more like debitum.
is and mys became ice and mice, due to alteration by analogy with French words like grace (this is what messed with the 'c' and 's').
Tid bits about English pronunciation.
ghoti is a word coined by G.B. Shaw to illustrate how silly English spelling is. It is supposed to be fish (f as in enough, i as in women and sh as in nation).
The most unpredictable (in spelling) words in the English language are also the most common.
During the Second World War, Goebbels (Nazi Minister of Propaganda) reputedly told his listeners that if they lost the war they would have to learn English - and English spelling, he said, is very, very difficult.
There are 10 ways to spell 'ah' (as in father), 32 ways to spell 'ee' (as in tree), 36 ways to spell 'ai' (as in eye) and 17 ways to spell 'sh' (as in sheep).
Another complicating factor is what's called "The Great Vowel Shift" all the log vowels gradually came to be more pronounced with a greater elevation of the tongue and closing of the moputh. Scholars claim they can prove this by comparing the rhymes in poetry and determining whether the same words rhyme over the centuries.
Aktchouli, Debacle, propurr spelnk is dyzphunkshnal.
Craven, Shaw was right. Only an iggerant person wood spell the finny creatures' names any other way. (Although in some sircles 'physh' is also acceptable.)
"Fish" is one of the few words, sounding the same as in German ("Fisch").
Re "ghoti" I've found this interesting remark:
TY Walter for correct info. So,do you
live in Germany?What part? Are there mountains?
What do you do? How do you do? You are then
very knowledgeable on all things German, so I now
know WHO to ask, about Germany. I want to visit
Germany. Not to drink beer. Just to see it, all of it.
I also want to see all of France, UK, Italy, and parts
of the far east. Quite a formidable list for a woman
my age, and with my health...but they are on my list
of things to do before I die. I used to have smaller
ones, like to go up in a hot air balloon. Travel to places
in the US. The older I get, the more I have done, and
the more grandiose my dreams grow. I did my hot air
balloon trip over San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato,
Mexico. Such a sweet lovely little town. Oooh and the
people are so happy, easy going, POLITE, it was wonderful.
The trouble was, I had to come back to the US. Good
thing I did, as I landed in the hospital twice since I
got back, and I was in a Mexican hospital for 2 weeks
during my stay there. It did not dampen my enjoying
my time spent in Mexico....I just wish I could safely
travel much more. Be sure to tell me all about your
self, and your country. Americans are, for a large
part, very rude, in too much of a hurry, and have
absolutely no idea what manners are, and tend to
be very egotistical. AND they slap the check
on your table the minute your food arrives. NEVER
would a waiter in Mexico dream of doing so rude a
thing as that. Even if all you get is cofee, you can
sit there for hours, if you wish, and they will never
give you a check till you request it. Lovely people.
Was Carl Jung from Germany?
I know I am nosy, and off topic, please forgive?
Thanks for your interest!
Carl Jung was German speaking - but from Switzerland.
The mountains of Switzerland - the Alps - are partly in Germany as well (up to about 7,500 feet or so). We have quite a few other mountains as well .... but, why not emailing me privately (I'll give you my addresse on PM)
I don't know if this is true or just a nice story:
George Bernhard Shaw in his will left a sum of money for the simplification of spelling in English.
Don't know if anybody got the money. But I don't think so.
What could be simpler than American orthography (it's not the English language anymore--there are far more of us than of them, even in you include the Canajuns, Australians, New Zealanders, etc.)
By the way, the "English" which is spoken today is a direct descendant of the "English" of East Anglia, that used by Wycliffe for his vernacular bible (although outlawed, and burned whenever found, 150 copies survive almost 700 years later), and by Chaucer. It was because Caxton printed Chaucer's works, as well of translations of French works by Chaucer that he seems to have "standardized" our language. In fact, the language in Le Morte d'Arthur was that of Yorkshire--Caxton pretty well transcribed directly what he found in a manuscript. Whomever had begun printing works for sale in England would have been credited with "fixing" the course of "English" development, because of the great likelihood of imitative writing by those eager to capitalize on a market of avid readers . . .
"The mountains of Switzerland - the Alps - are partly in Germany as well (up to about 7,500 feet or so). "
Walter....is that visible from a distance?
Need one posit a mercenary cause as contrasted with standardization through a broadly circulated exemplar?
Shaw, one of my favorite guys (I'd love to see the directors of Lockheed Martin each write a 1000 word essay on Major Barbara) may well have willed some money as you suggest as he did try to forward the idea of phonetic spelling. But some aspects of culture are tenacious.
Yes. (That photo has been taken in a distance of about 30 miles from the Alps.)
He left in his will money for the specific purpose of having a contest to come up with a more efficient (and a phonetic) alphabet for the English language. (After the award was granted, Penguin Books actually published a "Shaw Alphabet" edition of his play Androcles and the Lion). [from:
A Brief Shaw Biography
Your photo could easily be confused with many taken near my home town (Chilliwack, some 100k from Vancouver). Though the photo I've added here was taken in summer and shows lower elevation mountains, the town sits in an agriculturally rich flood plain valley and is bordered on two sides by a number of peaks that look like those in your photo. Where I am now is almost that nice...I'll see what I can find.
I'm just two blocks from here, so very easy to put my kayak on my shoulder and walk down. Bay is to the left obviously, and the walkway you see goes around Vancouver and Stanley Park - a walk as nice as probably any.