Fixing English

Discussion in 'The Green Room' started by Paladin, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    I had a post in the Red Room where I used the inverted exclamation point (¡) for effect and I realized that I like it. It got me to thinking that maybe there are some good ideas out there about improving the English language (written, spoken, whatever).

    Now, as a realist, I know that none of these are ever going to take hold--there's just too much inertia behind English for it to be reformed--but how would you fix/improve English?

    1. Spelling reform - as a meme recently pointed out, in the phrase "Pacific Ocean," there are three c's and each is pronounced differently. Fixing spelling is REALLY difficult, and doing it in a way that doesn't result in something that just looks terribly, uh, un-English is next to impossible.

    2. The inverted question mark (¿) and exclamation point (¡) - these let you know immediately whether the statement is a question (questions don't always begin with a question word) or an exclamation at the outset.

    3. The inclusive/exclusive we - this is a feature that Chinese has that I really like. There's a "we" that includes the person being addressed and one that excludes the person being addressed. Having this distinction would eliminate having to make a hand gesture to communicate the scope of the "we."

    4. The standardization of "they" as a pronoun for indefinite or irrelevant gender. "Somebody rang the doorbell, but, when nobody answered, they left a note." Facebook does this and I like it.

    Any ideas or maybe just some pet peeves about English?
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  2. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    English is a silly language.

    That said, the spelling could be rationalized. "Cough," for example, should probably be spelled "koff." Otherwise explain to me why cough, though, through, rough, brought, bought, and other "ough" words all have different sounds.
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  3. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    No..."kof." :diacanu:
    Yep...terribly confusing to new learners.
  4. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey you can't spell hatred without "red hat"

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    kawf, yew ofe
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  5. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Actually...

    If you pronounce cot and caught the same way (as I do), cough would be spelled "kof."

    But if you pronounce those two words differently, cough would be better spelled "kauf" or (as you wrote it) "kawf."
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  6. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey you can't spell hatred without "red hat"

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    one of those should be spelled "cawt" is the real problem.

    we can get rid of that "au" and the fuckin' "gh" thing forever.
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  7. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    well there's your problem!



  8. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey you can't spell hatred without "red hat"

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    I guess the issue with English is that while most languages have loaned words, English is made up entirely of words it has followed other languages down an alley and beaten the shit out of them for.
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  9. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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  10. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    This is double-plus ungood!
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  11. Tererun

    Tererun Magical Girl

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  12. Bickendan

    Bickendan Custom Title Administrator Faceless Mook Writer

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    Simplify spelling to the phonetics of Original Pronunciation :diacanu:
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  13. Bickendan

    Bickendan Custom Title Administrator Faceless Mook Writer

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    Not just inertia, but the several underlying dialects behind that inertia.
    Fix English -- great. American English? British English? Australian English? Middle Earth Kiwi New Zealander English? At this point, Indian English? Various African dialects English?
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  14. Quest

    Quest not leaving Staff Member Administrator

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  15. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    You know, English. The real one.

    What we speak in 'Murica.

    :diacanu:

    It's true that no single spelling reform will satisfy all Englishes. There's just way too much variety.

    The English have some subtly different vowel sounds relative to Americans. When the English say "lot" and "cloth," they use vowel sounds I don't ever make, and which seem...weird...to me.

    And the Australians? Fuhgedaboudit. Their vowels are really different. For instance, if you say "raise up lights" really fast, you sound like an Australian saying "razor blades."

    There's even a lot of variation here in America, even beyond the "cot/caught" divergence. Have you heard anyone iotate (add a y sound to) the long u (ew) sound? Harry Lennix (Swanwick) does it Batman v. Superman; when he says "Superman," it comes out "Syuperman." Not wrong, just a pattern some English speakers have.
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  16. K.

    K. Sober

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  17. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    The IPA does have the benefit of capturing the complete phonetic representation of words, including primary and secondary stress, but...

    ...it makes for slow going when read and it's lacking aesthetically.
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  18. Bickendan

    Bickendan Custom Title Administrator Faceless Mook Writer

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    Doesn't surprise me that there's an iotate in some accents, but I'm most familiar with it with the Russian e.
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  19. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Yep. The Russians even differentiate the non-iotated and iotated versions of the same sound with different graphemes:

    non-iotated (hard) -> iotated (soft)
    а -> я (ah, yah)
    э -> е (eh, yeh)
    ы -> и (not really the same sound, this one's an odd duck: uy [like in Spanish muy, sorta but a single syllable], yee)
    о -> ё (oh, yoh)
    у -> ю (ew, yew)
  20. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey you can't spell hatred without "red hat"

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    what is is with the NE US and "wahrter"?
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  21. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    Don't know, since I don't say it. My dad sorta did, though (he was a New Englander).

    Do you talk like a New Englandah?
  22. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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  23. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey you can't spell hatred without "red hat"

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    I first noticed it from, of all people, Neil deGrasse Tyson on Cosmos.
    It became a drinking game.
  24. We Are Borg

    We Are Borg Rey of sunshine

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    Warned.

    Take that bullshit to the Red Room. :mad:
  25. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    a drinking fountain - I guess because it bubbles up when in use.
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  26. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    My nephew's ex-wife in South Carolina (near the Georgia border) pronounced "been" as two syllables: "BEE-yin". At first I thought she was saying "Being" and dropping the g. I say it "Bin."
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  27. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    What Muricans mean by an "English accent," I assume, is Received Pronunciation - what the Royals and the news media use.

    But there's a lot more to Britain than Masterpiece Theatre. There are apparently 37 distinct dialects of British English, and that's not counting Scotland, Wales, or Southern Ireland.

    As for changing the spelling this late in the game, given what @Spaceturkey said about the "borrowings" from a multiplicity of languages, I'm afraid c'est impossible.

    I mean, look how quickly metric caught on in the U.S. :bergman:

    I'd just be grateful if people understood the meaning of some of the phrases they use. It's "rein them in," not "reign them in." It's "toe the line," not "tow the line." And so on.

    As for "then" vs "than"... :bang:
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  28. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    then/than to/too there/their/they're misuse is just pure laziness and apathy IMHO - call me old fashioned! Oops, make that "call me old fashion". ;)
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  29. Mrs. Albert

    Mrs. Albert demented estrogen monster

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    A friend of mine has an issue with then/than. I keep telling her how to remember that then refers to time. When? Then. It still hasn’t stuck, though.

    I think the most annoying one is people using loose instead of lose. They don’t even sound the same! Affect/effect is a close second.

    It is surprising to me how many of my fellow students have terrible writing skills. I’m far from perfect, but some of these look like a sixth grader wrote them. For one of the group projects I’m working on, everyone else researched and wrote up a couple paragraphs for a pharmacy business plan. My job was to combine everyone’s thoughts into one coherent proposal. One group member used the word “great” 9 times in 2 paragraphs. Another had a 5 line paragraph that was one sentence. :(
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  30. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed Man of Liberty

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    I admit to being unsure about which vs. that. This page covers it pretty well.

    Likewise, I have issues with...someone or somebody? This page says they're completely interchangeable, but "someone" is preferred in professional writing.
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