Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Total Departure

Blame this one on a tweet I saw from @cbethblog. But she got me to thinking about the English language and how silly our spelling rules are. This was ever apparent to me as I taught my little genius Pokemon Boy how to read, starting around two. He was fine when we'd tell him, "I know what the rule is but this is just one of those weird exceptions." But it made me think what a silly language we have.

cbethblog's tweet made me think about it a bit more than I probably needed to. Hey, I'm home sick. I have too much time on my hands. Sue me.

Here's what I wrote down:

A/a - keep: handles short and long A sounds. Replaces all the vowel combos that try to be long A's like "ey" or "ei".
B/b - keep: handles B sound
C/c - change: we have S and K. We need a letter to handle CH.
D/d - keep: handles D sound
E/e - keep: handles short and long E sounds. Replaces all the vowel combos that try to be long E's. Also replaces any Y's making the long E sound. Just put two E's there or something. E's got it covered.
F/f - keep: handles all F sounds so no more "PH" stuff. And no faking at being a V.
G/g - adjust: handles only hard G sounds like garden or giraffe. No more of this handling J sounds.
H/h - keep: handles H sounds
I/i - keep: handles short and long I sounds. Replaces all the vowel combos that try to be long I's. Also replaces any Y's attempting to handle the long I sound. Just stop it. I has it covered!
J/j - keep: handles all J sounds, taking over for any G's pretending to be J's. Also replaces the need to have the "DGE" combo making the J sound. That's just superfluous and wasteful.
K/k - keep: handles the K sound and replacing the need for a "hard C" sound
L/l - keep: handles the L sound
M/m - keep: handles the M sound
N/n - keep: handles the N sound
O/o - keep: handles the short and long O sounds. Also replaces all occurrences of "AH" trying to be a short O.
P/p - keep: handles all P sounds. No more pairing with H to make the F sound. F has that covered.
Q/q - keep: but ditch the need for the U. What is WITH that? Q can handle it all alone.
R/r - keep: handles the R sound
S/s - keep: handles only the S sounds. No more trying to be a Z. Let Z have that. It has so very few words already. Let it have all the Z sounds, for heaven's sake!
T/t - keep: handles only the hard T sound. No more being the "SH" sound in things that have "tion" at the end. We'll get to the "SH" sound.
U/u - keep: handles the short and long U sounds. Which means there is no longer a need for the double O to make the oo sound. The long U handles that fine.
V/v - keep: handles the V sound
W/w - keep: handles the W sound. And no more of this silly "WH" combo that's just another "W" sound.
X/x - change: we already have a Z sound and the hard X sound can be handled by "KS". We need a letter to take on the softer "SH" sound since C will now handle the hard "CH". So X gets changed to the "SH" sound.
Y/y - keep: but it only handles the consonant pronunciation like in yellow or yard. No more faking as a long E or long I.
Z/z - keep: handles the Z sound. Taking over all the X's faking a Z sound.

We still need letters to handle the soft and hard "TH" sounds. Since I'm out of letters on the normal keyboard, I will substitute the ^ sign for the soft "TH" sound like in "these" or "those". And I will substitute the ~ sign for the hard "TH" sound like in "thanks" or "think".

We also need an "NG" sound as in "thing" or "sang". I'll use the < sign for that.

While we're at it, I think we need some new vowel rules. Have you ever tried to teach your kids rules for reading or spelling? "I before E except after C or when spelled like an A as in neighbor or weigh." Really? Or what about "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking"? Really? That's nice for the word "train" but what about the word "great"? And adding an E to the end of a word to make the vowel in the middle long? I can kind of live with that. Although it gets a little murky for words like "taste" or "bathe". It would be nicer to just have different letters - one for the short vowel, one for the longer. But I can't really do that on a normal keyboard, now can I. So I think I'll suggest, if you want a short vowel, you put the vowel by itself. If you want a long vowel, you plop an E right after it.

Let's try out this newly improved alphabet and rules on this sentence (and I've paraphrased it to give me all the sounds I want). Oh this should be good...

Original Silly English: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy sheep dog that is thinking of judging cheeses.

New Improved American: ^u qik brown fox jumps oevr ^u laezee xeep dog ^at iz ~eenkee< uv jujee< ceeziz.

See how good that looks? Every letter is making it's own sound and not pretending to be another letter. No more confusion for our preschoolers and kindergartners. No more having to say, "Yah, I know what the rule is but this is just one of those weird exceptions…"

Who's with me?


C. Beth said...


C. Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allie said...

Nooooooooooooooooo!!!!! I disagree strongly (although you can still be my friend!). I like English the way it is! If it was good enough for ... Jane Austen it's good enough for me!

(I'm not really serious there. But I do like the long rich weird history of the English language, I like all the oddities, and I'm not going to try to reproduce a long rant I once ranted on my old blog but here's the link: )

Call Me Cate said...

Wow. First off, K Beth (or whatever she's calling herself these days) is right that you are totally worth a follow.

Your alphabet makes for much more interesting aesthetics, that's for sure. I kinda like it!

Mary Ann said...

That took a lot of thought, I can tell. You probably have a feel now for how the first developers of language felt...

...which is a way of saying that I'm not with you on this one but I think you're wild! In a good way.