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(Comments on spelling reform)
Since there seem to be several native Dutch speakers in this thread, I'd be interested in an opinion on the attitudes of Dutch speakers towards the history of their language. The impression I have is that Dutch speakers don't know much about the history, don't read really old literature, and don't have a feel for obsolete grammatical forms. True or false?
I've also been told that there's starting to be a communications gap between the young and old in some parts of Belgium, as the schools are training children out of using the dialect of their own region. Again, true or false?

Peter Moylan (Email Removed) http://eepjm.newcastle.edu.au (OS/2 and eCS information and software)
For English the only way is to set up a ... be reached beforehand that all will accept the same rules.

How would this be implemented? In the U.S. the government can use whatever spellings it wants in official federal publications, but it lacks the authority to mandate these spellings in the private sector.

Presumably they could require a particular standard spelling to be used in all education they pay for (even in part). They could also demand that reports they pay for be written in that spelling.
In any case, my two cents is that spelling reform is the most safely ignorable of all linguistic discussions.

For English, yes,
Jan
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
A.B. Normal 65 filted:

On the other hand, the crazy looking example that I ... "e". If we're going to reform, why not really reform?

And start down the slope of making English and American truly different languages...most might still figure out that AmE "lever" is cognate with BrE "leever" (or "leeva"), but why introduce that extra step?...r

Sure, a language treaty between at least the US and the UK agreeing to standardize on the same spelling is a precondition for any useful reform proposal.
Jan
Consistent, and easily understood rules are more important than phonetic spelling.

With the exception of the tiny number of words that are spelled differently in the US and the UK, the ... both. Which is where we are now. Either you let spelling give clues to etymology and morphology or you don't.

In practice something of both.
Spelling reform must above all be pragmatic.
An example of a good rule (not to be confused with a good idea) In Dutch all ph-s for f sounds (photo -> foto) have been abolished systematically, with almost no exceptions.
An example of a bad rule:
In Dutch some c-s in French derived words have been replaced by k-s in a haphazard way that is impossible to memorize.
The Netherlands and Belgium did more than look at,

The Netherlands and Belgium together have a population somewhat less than that of California and an area somewhat less than South Carolina.

So what?
Those who advocate spelling reform of some kind,
should at the very least have a look at the only modern language where spelling (and grammar) reform has indeed been done on a major scale.
Jan
"Laugh" for instance should probably be spelled "laf", I would prefer "laaf", to avoid confusion with the "cat" vowel.

But to this American "laugh" and "cat" have the same vowel. See how easily this breaks down?

To this Rightpondian too. In this case, I would think that would do for most of us, as most people rhyme "laugh" with "staff", whichever vowel they use in them. Even that might go wrong in Birmingham, though.
Bob Lieblich Trying to rite rite

Some people round here might prefer to rite reight, or even reet.

Jonathan
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
A.B. Normal 65 filted:

What you mean "we," paleface?
Have you thought about what it takes for a reform to take hold? Have you ever noticed that some new things are mocked and resisted, while others are embraced eagerly? Have you ever thought about those mechanisms?
And start down the slope of making English and American ... BrE "leever" (or "leeva"), but why introduce that extra step?...r

Sure, a language treaty between at least the US and the UK agreeing to standardize on the same spelling is a precondition for any useful reform proposal.

Precondition? Well, that will kill it right there. You're not going to get people in the US to agree to abide by a pig in a poke. They're going to want to know what they are agreeing to before they agree to it, and not necessarily then.
Trying to come up with spelling reform that would be agreeable to the UK as well as the US (not to mention other English-speaking countries) seems way more impossible than focussing on the US alone. (Which is unlikely enough.)
This is why Evan pointed out the size of the Netherlands and Belgium. When you're dealing with fewer people and shorter distances, it is more practical to meet and work out agreements. Even if those countries do pack in more tiny regional dialects than probably the US does over its entire expanse.
For one thing, they saw the lure of combining into a single publishing market. The US and UK don't feel that as strongly, each being big enough to sell books and papers to its own market. I suppose the UK would be annoyed if they had to translate every US blockbuster novel from phonetic spelling into British standard spelling but they would do it. (Then I wonder if people in the US would clamor to buy copies with that old-fashioned spelling...)

Best Donna Richoux
So what? Those who advocate spelling reform of some kind, should at the very least have a look at the only modern language where spelling (and grammar) reform has indeed been done on a major scale.

Do you mean Indonesian?

Regards
John
"Laugh" for instance should probably be spelled "laf", I would prefer "laaf", to avoid confusion with the "cat" vowel.

But to this American "laugh" and "cat" have the same vowel. See how easily this breaks down?

I would have said that was true of me as well, but I tried it, and there is in fact a slight difference. The cat vowel is "brighter" in musical terminology; not sure what linguists would call it. They may not be separate phonemes, though.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
What you mean "we," paleface?

You're piggybacking. Who are you talking to, redface?
Have you thought about what it takes for a reform to take hold? Have you ever noticed that some new things are mocked and resisted, while others are embraced eagerly? Have you ever thought about those mechanisms?

Sure, a language treaty between at least the US and ... same spelling is a precondition for any useful reform proposal.

Precondition? Well, that will kill it right there.

Ah, you noticed?
You're not going to get people in the US to agree to abide by a pig in a poke. They're going to want to know what they are agreeing to before they agree to it, and not necessarily then.

Sure, the will to compromise must exist.
Both the UK and the US would have to give someplace. Harbor next to colour won't be a suitable compromise. But that needn't be a problem.
Parliaments do not have to give away their powers, as the Dutch and Belgian ones have done.
Under a treaty it should be possible to get a proposal worked out, which then needs acceptance on both sides.
Trying to come up with spelling reform that would be agreeable to the UK as well as the US (not to mention other English-speaking countries) seems way more impossible than focussing on the US alone. (Which is unlikely enough.)

There is no point in doing it for the US alone.
Unless you need some more tribal markers.
The rest of the world wouldn't matter much.
If the UK and the US were to agree on a standard spelling the rest would have to follow.
But why not be nice and ask them in on it, if ever.
This is why Evan pointed out the size of the Netherlands and Belgium. When you're dealing with fewer people and shorter distances, it is more practical to meet and work out agreements.

Easy agreement with the Belgians? You must be joking.
Even if those countries do pack in more tiny regional dialects than probably the US does over its entire expanse.

Quite possible. The population in the US is better mixed, despite the far greater distances.
For one thing, they saw the lure of combining into a single publishing market.

Well, effectively the Belgians didn't have one of their own. Without the possibility to publish and sell in the Netherlands they wouldn't have had an author worth mentioning.
The US and UK don't feel that as strongly, each being big enough to sell books and papers to its own market.

That's one of the nice things of being in the Netherlands. You can compare and choose the edition you like best.
I suppose the UK would be annoyed if they had to translate every US blockbuster novel from phonetic spelling into ... would do it. (Then I wonder if people in the US would clamor to buy copies with that old-fashioned spelling...)

It wouldn't be that hard to read.
For example, I have a book printed in the phonetic alphabet. After initial delays it reads easily,
Jan

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wijs hem dan nimmer op zijn fout.
Als de Vlaming U voor Waal verslijt
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