Word of Mouth  permalink

Some clown has done it again.

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Messages: 51 - 55 of 55
  • Message 51

    , in reply to message 50.

    Posted by Attila the Pun (U2369758) on Monday, 14th July 2008

    Yes, I'm afraid it's now a tex. They send texes.

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  • Message 52

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by leontes (U250136) on Monday, 14th July 2008

    Referring to our vagaries and glories - as if vagary were glorious - doesn't help much. You just get into a slanging match with the self-constituted proponents of 'rationalist scientificism' who dictate that 'whatever is, is good (except for evilly pedantic dicta of "correctness")' The point is that however you rationalise spelling and 'logicise' language it will turn round, bite you, and find new ways of defying your logic. That is its nature.

    As a 'language-twitcher' I put myself in the place of such as Mr Oddie. Funny he doesn't look at a magpie and say it ought to be all black, nor complain that a butcher-bird oughtn't to skewer its prey on thorns. This is the way the bird world behaves. It can't be regimented. Try to rationalise a language and you finish up with 'ungood' instead of 'bad' (vide 1984) 'Oh, but of course that's a wild exaggeration of our aims' - cry the logicolinguisticians. Maybe; but caricature can be appropriate in this as in other fields.

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  • Message 53

    , in reply to message 47.

    Posted by mark_s (U2341829) on Tuesday, 15th July 2008

    that teeth-grinding verb "texting" and (worse) the past tense "texted". 

    What's wrong with it? Isn't there a long tradition of English nouns becoming verbs? Texting is a new phenomenon. No reason at all why it shouldn't have a new verb. And equally no reason why that verb shouldn't be derived from an existing noun.

    And don't start me on apostrophes! 

    Ok - I have a feeling we'd agree on those!


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  • Message 54

    , in reply to message 47.

    Posted by ladyhedgehog (U7279316) on Tuesday, 15th July 2008

    For playwright Message 47

    And don't start me on apostrophes! 

    See "my" new MB entitled .... Apostrophes

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  • Message 55

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Spir-An (U2260022) on Tuesday, 15th July 2008

    Tue, 15 Jul 2008 22:45 GMT

    I've got a lot of points to make, and rather than combine all the quote boxes and names and points in one post or have lots of separate posts I'll just copy short quotes:

    "And what right does a non-native speaker have to propose this anyway."
    Every right! Hundreds of millions of them have to learn our language including its spelling. Which, since it is so much more irregular than that of any other language, adds massively to the learning task.

    "The vagaries and byways of English spelling are one of its many glories."
    That's totally an value judgement, not a fact. From another point of view they're a pain in the arse, and from anothers still, they just are.

    "When I was looking at how the Portugues words have been changed, it occurred to be that one great disadvantage of changing words to look the way they sound, and losing silent letters, is that one will no longer be able to make an intelligent stab at what the word means."
    Frob, why does it not occur to you that this is already the situation with speech, yet you don't find a problem with that? Vice versa, if we survive with pronunciation not always hinting at derivation, why would it be so awful with spelling also? Further, there has already been plenty of spelling change which (relatively) obscures an 'origin': is this so awful, and should we change those spellings 'back'? This is actually what some Purists of the early modern period insisted on, which is why we have a B in "debt" and L in "fault" and "salmon" (they weren't there before) on account of the Latin origin behind the direct French one.

    "Let the language (and spelling) change in its own way, at its own speed and with its own local variations, with no "intentional" interference."
    At one time that is kind of how it worked, Poverty, altho even in earlier times there was some degree of artificialness due to the policies of scribes. In recent times lexicographers such as Noah Webster and influential house styles such as prestigious newspapers have had a similar if more limited role. But the fact is that in the last few centuries, with the popularisation of writing with literacy, printing and publishing, 'natural' spelling change has almost ground to a halt. We just aren't going to have that kind of change because we are too committed to established spelling patterns due to vast amounts of material printed in them. It's large-scale language planning or nothing I'm afraid.

    "A word pronounced by someone from the north of England can sound exactly the same as a quite different word pronounced by a southerner: 'coat', in parts of the north can sound like 'caught' further south."
    The same points apply here as in reply to Frobenius: we already have this situation in speech, and we deal with it. The fact that different words in two different accents sound the same doesn't mean they are confused in speech, because the rest of the speech indicates the accent and hence the meaning. So it would be in writing also, if we had genuinely phonetic spelling. But we don't even need that: we could have phonemic spelling which would have the same symbol for the same sound-element even when it's pronounced differently in different accents.

    "Simple regular grammar with non ambiguous words having one meaning, spelled as they sound, promotes and allows fast clear thought."
    Debatable... language must change to follow thought because its purpose is to be an instrument conveying it, and so as thought changes, language changes. Regularity and unambiguousness cannot be preserved for long. I remember Habook, you are an Esperantist are you not? We'd probably better keep that debate for another thread, but my opinion is artificial auxiliary languages cannot fulfil the unrealistic ideals their supporters hold out for them.

    "You could easily argue that its only really a matter of time before these text forms start to drift into more formal Englishes e.g. in emails, then business emails, then business letters, and eventually into fully formal written English in Newspapers etc."
    It's possible, but would it get as far as, e.g., scientific or legal texts? I think there has to be a baseline in which language is used very precisely and in which comprehension is essential; a simplified form might work in less formal contexts, but not every one. Therefore I think we'll see non textese for a while yet.

    On the other hand the principles behind these text innovations have happened many times in previous writing systems than the Roman alphabet with English. For instance the use of a single letter to represent the sounds of the name of the letter is reminiscent of certain patterns applied to ancient Hebrew, whose letter-names are full words. Using numerals to represent sounds similar to those in the name of the numeral is a little like the way the Egyptian and Chinese writing-systems use a small number of signs to represent phonetic sounds instead of the full meaning of a word/syllable. Perhaps we shouldn't see this change as so threatening.

    OK... that'll have to do for today! I'll try and look at the rest of the thread tomorrow.

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