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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Experimenting with Alternative Spelling Systems

    As I promised in my self-introduction, I would like to share my exploration and experimentation on the topic of English orthographic reform. Regardless of your personal stance on the practicality and/or merits of spelling reform, it is at the very least an interesting intellectual excercise, one which may potentially yield useful insights and/or tools for English-language instruction.

    First, if you're interested in an in-depth historical overview of English spelling as well as a peak at the work of reform advocates such as myself, I'd like to invite you to peruse my academic paper on the subject (25 pages in PDF format).

    As its name suggests, Restored Latinate Spelling (RLS) is essentially a re-Romanization of broadcast English. That is to say, it attempts to emulate the result of applying the Latin alphabet to modern English with an approach roughly akin to that employed by the medieval missionaries who first applied it to Old English, though certain influences of contemporary linguistic science are also present.

    A downloadable PDF tutorial and a 1-page cheat-sheet supplement the above-linked website, presenting essentially the same information.

    RLS distributes 10 of the 12 monophthongs in English among the five conventional vowel letters in a symmetrical way, assigning two values to each grapheme and using a couple of positional rules to determine when to apply which pronunciation. Diacritics mark any vowels whose pronunciation must break those rules in order to encode correct pronunciation. The remaining two vowels are represented with unconventional characters. That includes the use of <> as a dedicated symbol for schwa.

    Digraphs are avoided in RLS to avoid confusion with sequences of independently pronounced monographs (cf. the <th> in "wealthy" versus "adulthood"). To accommodate this goal, redundant consonants in the conventional alphabet (such as <c>, whose sounds are already accounted for by <k> and <s>) were reassigned to sounds traditionally represented with digraphs. This reduces the need for additional characters.

    All unconventional characters required in RLS are available n the US-International keyboard layout.

    I welcome any feedback, be it on the system itself, potential applications, or how it's presented.

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    #2

    Re: Experimenting with Alternative Spelling Systems

    I still remember when my school teacher was talking about troubles faced by english speakers to make a spelling while latin language speakers didn't have this kind of problem. Spelling is really easy to perform to latin language native speakers, viceversa some university students speaking english got this kind of problem even in college.

  2. charliedeut's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Experimenting with Alternative Spelling Systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Glossaphile View Post
    First, if you're interested in an in-depth historical overview of English spelling as well as a peak at the work of reform advocates such as myself, I'd like to invite you to peruse my academic paper on the subject (25 pages in PDF format).
    I'll peek, if you don't mind!
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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    #4

    Re: Experimenting with Alternative Spelling Systems

    When I was a child in the 60s, the Initial Teaching Alphabet was doing the rounds in the UK- I remember the books in it in my local library, though I was not taught it. It was viewed with great suspicion by many parents, and faded away. Some recall it as a total disaster, but the first studies suggested that it was producing results. Defenders suggest that it was a victim of its own success as it was rolled out too widely too early.

    The problem with all attempts at spelling reform, and it is a laudable and sensible thing to want to see, is that they're not going to go anywhere. Therefore, this new system would, as I see it, only have implications for teaching if it were another ITA, which means that it won't be adopted by the very conservative publishers who control textbooks. Many teachers already teach the IPA to their students to transcribe sounds, so that job is done.


    BTW, given that it was the application of Latin writing to Old English that gave us such gems as gh, I wouldn't push them too strongly as spelling reformers to be emulated. And the spelling of voiced/unvoiced th is restoring something Old English had.

  3. Newbie
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    #5

    Re: Experimenting with Alternative Spelling Systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    BTW, given that it was the application of Latin writing to Old English that gave us such gems as gh, I wouldn't push them too strongly as spelling reformers to be emulated. And the spelling of voiced/unvoiced th is restoring something Old English had.
    Well, at the time, the introduction of <gh> was a defensible move, since it stood for an actual sound in those days (as I understand it, a velar fricative), so that does not disqualify the medieval scribes as models. The people whom we should avoid emulating are the Renaissance/Enlightenment pedants who kept the <gh> even after sound changes had rendered it completely silent.

    As for the spelling of the interdental fricatives, I see it as killing two birds with one stone. On the one hand, thorn and eth play an important role that has long been neglected by not only making the voiced/voiceless distinction but also doing so without digraphs. On the other hand, it's a sort of return to our roots which may help marshal linguistic patriotism to the cause of reform.

    Yes, I've heard of the ITA. As I understand it, it not only had students reading proficiently in three months or so, but it also fostered better performance when transitioning to traditional spelling.

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    #6

    Re: Experimenting with Alternative Spelling Systems

    If that were so clearly the case, then it would be hard to explain why the ITA disappeared. The pilots were positive, but the next stage much less. Overall, it was not seen as that successful, many still regard it as a disaster, and it did vanish. It was very controversial and divisive- I remember being pointedly steered away from these strange books when a young child. Whether it was given a fair chance or not is open to debate, but it certainly coloured perspectives for years. With the current popularity of phonics and synthetic phonics, there may be a renewed appetite for innovation.

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    #7

    Re: Experimenting with Alternative Spelling Systems

    I welcome any feedback, be it on the system itself, potential applications, or how it's presented..

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    #8

    Re: Experimenting with Alternative Spelling Systems

    Experimenting with an alternative spelling system is the good one to go with, it is very easily performed in a native speaking languages.
    Last edited by HenryLin; 10-Oct-2014 at 12:08.

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