This was originally going to be a post about books. However, we’ll leave that for next week when I can spill all my news at once, and instead, we’ll have a post about English. Specifically, reading English.
A few weeks ago, I was tidying my English-teaching material and came across a joke. Remember a few years back, there was a lot of talk about phonetics and how written language could be simplified, making it easier for children and non-native speakers to learn to read and write? There were lots of jokes about it – here’s one of them!
Improving the English language
Her Majesty’s Government has just announced a five-year phase-in of new rules which would apply to the English language, greatly simplifying spelling and enabling children to learn more quickly and easily.
The agreed plan is as follows:
In year 1, the soft ‘c’ will be replased by the ‘s’. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard ‘c’ will be replased by ‘k’. This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan now have one less letter.
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome ‘ph’ is replaced by ‘f’. This will reduse ‘fotograf’ by 20%. In addition, ‘u’ will be replaced by ‘w’ in words like ‘langwage’.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated langwage changes are posible. The Government will enkourage the removal of double leters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent leters, partikularly ‘e’s, in the langwag is not only dum but apaling and shoud be stopd.
The bigest langwag changs wil com in year 4, when pepl wil be reseptiv to lingwistik korekshons such as replasing ‘th’ with ‘z’ and turning ze soft ‘ti’ into ‘sh’ in words kontaining ‘tion’. Ze situashon wil be furzer simplifid bi replasing ze leter ‘y’ wiz ‘i’.
During ze fifz iar, ze unesesary dubl vowls be dropd, for instans from words kontaning ‘ou’, and similar changs wud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinashons of leters. Evrizing wil now be reli unkomplikatd, and mor students wil pas exams.
After zis fifz iar, we wil hav a reli sensibl riten stil. Zer wil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evriwun wil find it esi to akwir ze langwag. Publik apreshiashon wil be at its hit, and literari acomplishments lik riting wil be at a veri hi level. I’m sur yu kan al hardli wat!
Personally, I’m very glad this never caught on… I think a plan like that would be enough to put me off writing books for the rest of my life! Meanwhile, come back next week for a couple of pieces of very exciting book news!
I’ve seen a lot of fun comments on our brains’ amazing ability to recognize words, even if they lack vowels or are completely scrambled except for first and last letter. For example:
I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.
So basically it wasn’t until autocorrect came that things were screwed up beyond recognition.
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Rit… But I think I’ll just stick to what I know! 😂 Autocorrect has a lot to answer for!
I admit that it was hard for me to read the penultimate paragraph. But, I have similar difficulties reading what many people type on social media. I love this piece. I think it brings attention to the issue of syntax degradation and relegation in natural language processing. Those new rules you’re happy never caught on are catching on, and for the wrong reasons. Smart, very smart.
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It’s interesting – I think languages evolve along with the people who use them. The purpose of language is to allow communication, and I guess that’s quite an immediate thing. The world has changed so much, and with it the language we use. Textspeak will be temporary, I’m sure, while we wait for language recognition technology to become more widely used. It would be fun to come back in 100 years and see how people use words then!
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