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This is becoming tiresome. Goverment at all levels must cooperate, on basis of solid political support from below for spelling reform to be possible.

Alright. So let's just say that we agree that it's an impossibility in the US and be done with it.

Bingo! We have a winner!
And in practice spelling reform will be possible only under a climate of optimism, belief in progress, a belief that ... by human effort. Nothing like the present USA obviously. Something like the first Kennedy year would be more like it.

Hmm... Wasn't that about the time that the Chicago Tribune (IIRC) finally threw in the towel on its reformed spellings?

Richard R. Hershberger
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It need (and shouldn't) be that drastic.

How else could it work? Either the textbooks need to be changed or the students will learn the old spelling ... they'll only learn the new spelling and won't be able to read old books, which will have to be replaced.

A systematic spelling reform happened in Japan about 60 years ago. It wasn't drastic. You can read old books without problems. Most people can't write in the old system, though. The point is, you don't have to "learn" the old system to read if the difference isn't drastic.
New books published after the reform are almost exclusively in the new system. Many old books have been republished using the new system (as you English-speakers have republished Shakespearean works using modern English spellings). Now the Japanese spelling is "more" phenetic than before.
I refrain from judging whether it's better to reform the English spelling. But, I'm sure you can make it a bit "more" phonetic without huge social cost if you are determined to do so.
Ryo
Know any 16 year olds who read 19th century novels, or older, spontaneously, without having to do so for school?

For English, sure. Do we have to wait until they're teenagers? Some of my favorite books when I was a ... 30 years ago, but I'd expect all of these authors to be read, spontaneously, by kids and teens today, too.

You snipped to much.
The original question wasn't about you or me,
but about a mythical population called 'Dutch speakers'. The 'Dutch speakers' don't read Vondel or Multatuli without being forced to in school,
and the "English speakers' don't read Shakespeare or Dickens without similar coercion.
Of course some atypical kiddies
do start reading real literature on their own.
As a consequence they don't grow up to be normal speakers, and post in aue instead.
Jan
Thus spake R F:

In the original 'Nederland' is always singular,
but it still is 'Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden',
with a plural.
I guess, but I would have to look it up, that the official name arose because the kingdom also included Belgium and Luxembourg, originally. 'De Lage Landen' is still used, but it sounds a bit pompous.

Jan

'De Lage Landen bij de Zee' (Jan en Annie Romein)
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For English, sure. Do we have to wait until they're ... to be read, spontaneously, by kids and teens today, too.

You snipped to much. The original question wasn't about you or me, but about a mythical population called 'Dutch speakers'. ... or Multatuli without being forced to in school, and the "English speakers' don't read Shakespeare or Dickens without similar coercion.

Shakespeare's too far back, but Dickens isn't (although I didn't actually read any of his stuff until high school). My point is that for English-speaking (at least American) kids who have any sort of habit of reading for pleasure, nineteenth century novels will likely be among the books they read. Certainly Twain and Stevenson and (for somewhat older kids) Verne, Wells, and Doyle. Probably Carroll and some of the others. (The problem with Carroll isn't the language so much as the fact that much of the wordplay in the "Alice" books assumes that the reader is familiar with things that would be familiar to nineteenth century English schoolchildren.)
So if your point is that "kids don't read", I guess I can't argue. But if it's "kids who read don't read old stuff", I can't really agree. And certainly if it's "kids don't read old stuff because it's too difficult", I certainly disagree.

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Thus spake J. J. Lodder:
Thus spake R F: Nope. I had to wonder what you didn't "Oy!". The Nether-lands = the Low Countries. I could singularise either.

In the original 'Nederland' is always singular, but it still is 'Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden', with a plural. I guess, but I would have to look it up, that the official name arose because the kingdom also included Belgium and Luxembourg, originally.

And that half of it was owned by Spain.
'De Lage Landen' is still used, but it sounds a bit pompous.

Simon R. Hughes
I could see using a "simplified spelling" for young children first learning to read. *If* I wasn't in the process ... spelling when he's writing; that will come after he's a more fluent reader and is writing words he's comfortable reading.)

I think changing standard English spelling so that it's less cumbersome and more consistent and logical would help millions of children in future generations. Just think of all the time the average student could devote to getting on with the rest of learning if our language wasn't so screwed up? I'm thinking in terms of changing words like "telephone" to "telefone". How could that be detrimental to anyone?
I'll have to say that the idea that we don't need to correct our children's spelling from the earliest age doesn't sound quite right to me. I'm not sure, but I think it's becoming obvious that our kids aren't learning like they should under that kind of philosophy. I've noticed the teachers at my daughter's Middle School don't even know how to spell in the papers they send home. That's frightening! The main problem, of course, is the total break down of discipline in our schools. Any learning is going to take some level of discipline. But that's a whole new can of worms, isn't it?
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Again around in circles. Why is it that Americans always tend to see 'government' as some evil outside agency doing things 'the people' doesn't want?

Because each of us is outvoted three hundred million to one. And each of our states is outvoted forty-nine to ... backed by what was perceived as popular support, which it later realized (due to widespread popular opposition) it should repeal.

The government in the US IS the people. We have only ourselves to blame when government is allowed to do stupid things.
spelling reform is possible only when there is broad support for it.

When the federal government mandated that food quantities be listed in metric units and liquor be sold only in round ... "broad support". If spelling reform is ever pushed seriously in the federal government here, that's the way it will happen.

I do see your point that it could never work if the feds tried to push it down our throats. What might be better would be a process whereby representatives from many segments of the public work together to ratify the changes. I do believe that the spontaneous evolution of our everyday written communications can be a part of how our language may improve over time. But that process could also be helped along through some cooperative positive action by leaders in government, education, business, and private organizations. A set of good, worthwhile reforms could be put through a rigorous approval process. This would help the gubment boys from turning it into a snafu.
Of course not, but kids don't get jobs from the government, so I'd probably leave it to high school and spend a couple of weeks on "silly government spelling". ("They spell 'laugh' as 'laff'.")

To think that "laff" is silly while "laugh" is not is, well, just plain silly. Think about it.
I think the US government would have to have some part in ratifying spelling changes, but it wouldn't be accepted if they're forced on people from above. They would have to be sold to a great number of people at all levels in order to fly, and it would probably have to be championed by the educational community first. Reforms might also be most effective if they're presented as alternate spellings rather than saying, "Ok, now we're going to all start spelling differently." To avoid confusing young kiddies we could start out just teaching the new spellings to middle schoolers and up. Wait till they're starting to be used for a little while by the public sector before teaching them in elementary school.
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