ORWELL RESISTS NU SPELING
As many others are weighing in on the Euro English discussion it is appropriate to include Orwell's thoughts on the matter. ~ Jackie Jura
excerpt from AS I PLEASE
in Tribune magazine, by George Orwell, Mar 14, 1947:
I HAVE not yet read more than a newspaper paragraph about Nu Speling, in connexion with which somebody is introducing a Bill in Parliament, but if it is like most other schemes for rationalizing our spelling, I am against it in advance, as I imagine most people will be.
Probably the strongest reason for resisting rationalized spelling is laziness. We have all learned to read and write already, and we don’t want to have to do it over again. But there are other more respectable objections. To begin with, unless the scheme were rigidly enforced, the resulting chaos, with some newspapers and publishing houses accepting it, others refusing it, and others adopting it in patches, would be fearful. Then again, anyone who had learned only the new system would find it very difficult to read books printed in the old one, so that the huge labour of respelling the entire literature of the past would have to be undertaken. And again, you can only fully rationalize spelling if you give a fixed value to each letter. But this means standardizing pronunciation, which could not be done in this country without an unholy row. What do you do, for instance, about words like ‘butter’ or ‘glass’, which are pronounced in different ways in London and Newcastle? Other words, such as ‘were’, are pronounced in two different ways according to individual inclination, or according to context.
However, I do not want to prejudge the inventors of Nu Speling. Perhaps they have already thought of a way round these difficulties. And certainly our existing spelling system is preposterous and must be a torment to foreign students. This is a pity, because English is well fitted to be the universal second language, if there ever is such a thing. It has a large start over any natural language and an enormous start over any manufactured one, and apart from the spelling it is very easy to learn. Would it not be possible to rationalize it by little and little, a few words every year? Already some of the more ridiculous spellings do tend to get killed off unofficially. For instance, how many people now spell ‘hiccup’ as ‘hiccough’? [end quoting GO]
EURO ENGLISH MAYHEM, by Kate Gladstone & Jackie Jura
MEIHEM IN CE CLASRUM, by Dolton Edwards
TWAIN QUOTE NOT, by M. J. Shields
A PLAN FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF ENGLISH SPELLING, by Mark Twain
EURO ENGLISH, by Author Unknown
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