SoundSpel: Does English spelling need rethink?

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English is full of tricky spellings and inconsistencies that make it especially hard to learn compared to some other more phonetic languages.

Perhaps these complexities give the English language its character and expressive qualities in literature and but do they alienate people who would otherwise be more inclined to read and write?

English spelling is already very firmly and widely established, is it too late to re-think the entire method of spelling? Perhaps rather than changing the way we spell it would be wiser to support the proper learning of spelling?

Spellzone posted a blog yesterday about the late Edward Rondthaler who was a strong supporter of a spelling reform called ‘SoundSpel’. By the way, Rondthaler was 102 years old at the time of filming the video; he claimed that the secret to his lastingness was a daily cold shower!

He passionately believed that a new method of spelling would eliminate the struggles of learning to spell English through phonetic spelling. Using SoundSpel, every word would be spelt exactly as it is pronounced making it possible to spell any word so long as you can say it.

While I’m all for more people learning English, having read in standard English all my life, SoundSpel seems totally alien to me. Below is an extract from Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ in Standard English and again in SoundSpel.

Standard English:
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk. ...

Mi hart aeks, and a drouzy numnes paens
Mi sens, as tho of hemlok I had drunk,
Or emptyd sum dul oepiaet to the draens
Wun minit past, and Lethe-wards had sunk. ...

What do you think? Personally I can’t help but think that SoundSpel bears some similarities with ‘Middle English’ spelling. Does this suggest a return to old ways?


18 Mar 2013
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