...bikoz Ingliç dizérvz tu bi speld rait!

Let's Spel Þiñz Rait!

You say, "Don't fix what's not broken."
But hey, face the facts now in detail.
The "broken" ship has surely sailed.
In fact, it's been at sea for agesǃ
Indeed, ever since the printing press,
Spelling has been such a messǃ

Our speech has evolved along on its way
Since those medieval days.
So why must old Chaucer keep on holding sway
Over what's on the page?

Blue, shoe, two, flew, do, and through too.
What the bleepǃ
Just how do you say "ooh"?
Though, cough, bough.  I've had enough, it's the truth.
I'm thoroughly confused.
Should, shout, own, town, wood, food, womb.
Oh, bloody heckǃ
It's quite a plight,
Sou let's spel þiñz raitǃ

Meet our good friend Mr. Spellingǃ
Oh, waitǃ  He's too stoned, and not on weed
But on etymology.
At least that explains his schizophrenia,
And how he can often be so cruel
To foreigners and natives, too.

There's no 'e' in "heart."
Take it out.  It plays no part.
Why do we "break bread"?
Such words always tease my head.
Why then must we "bake a big cake"
Only to "gain lots of weight"?
There's no 'i' in "friend."
Why can't spelling just make more sense?

My name is Gregory H. Bontrager, composer of the above verses (intended to match the tune of "Loser Like Me" from Glee)ǃ I'm a 30-year-old doctoral student in linguistics at the University of Florida, and I also hold a Bachelor's degree in Spanish from Florida Gulf Coast University. In addition, I have what I like to call a solid foundational knowledge of French, Italian, Latin, German, and classical Greek.

For the past couple of years, I have been active in the cause of English orthographic reform.  When it comes to spelling, I believe that etymology should be left to specialists and that the written word should provide a reliable guide to pronunciation rather than word history.  The notable retardation in learning to read and write among native English speakers is simply not worth the pedantic embellishments of the current system.  Furthermore, traditional spelling perpetuates myths about the English sound system that have few or no analogs in other languages.  For instance, did you know that there are actually two sounds associated with 'th,' as different from each other as /s/ and /z/?  If this surprises you, it is most likely because they are never distinguished in spelling.

Some may insist that there are logical rules to traditional spelling, but those rules tend to be either poorly enforced or lacking in justification for their very existence.  For example, 'oa' is usually used as an alternative for silent final 'e' to lengthen what would otherwise be a short 'o,' as in "cot" versus "coat."  "Most" and "post" look like they should rhyme with "cost," so should they not be rendered instead as "moast" and "poast"?  Also, returning to the silent final 'e,' why do we use it in "give" and "have," in which the preceding vowel is short?  According to defenders of the traditional code, it is because English words are forbidden from ending with the letter 'v.'  The problem is that English has no trouble ending words with the sound /v/, regardless of the symbol representing it, so there is no phonetic justification for this purely orthographic rule.

Restored Latinate Spelling is my own contribution to the pool of proposed spelling systems that attempt to either streamline current spelling or replace it altogether.  It's an example of what written English could be if we as a language community were to take a bold step forward!  For further exploration, I highly recommend visiting the Saundspel newsgroup at Yahoo or the SpellingReform.Net forum.  For questions or feedback on RLS, please also feel free to e-mail me.

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