Proposal for an English language spelling reform

Correctly spelling English is horribly difficult when compared to almost any other language. Due to the long history of the language with no real attempts to control the way the language has evolved, English spelling is riddled with exceptions, inconsistencies and arbitrary assignments of letter combinations to sounds. A more phonetic spelling would have many advantages, especially the fact that it would make learning the language much easier.

Due to this, many proposals for reforming English spelling have been put forward. I’m not convinced any of the suggestions listed in Wikipedia are good solutions. Most of them attempt to fix too many things at the same time, causing lots of resistance to the reform.

A better approach would be to change only a few things at a time, gradually moving towards a more phonetic spelling and removing ambiguities.

Following these guidelines, the following changes could be the first ones to be implemented:

– The sound ‘k’ is currently represented by at least four different letters or letter combinations: ‘c’, ‘k’, ‘ck’ and ‘ch’. After the reform, only ‘k’ would be left in use.

– The sound ‘s’ is currently represented by ‘s’ or ‘c’. After the reform, only ‘s’ would be used.

– The sound ‘ch’ as in the word ‘change’ is a distinct sound, but is currently represented by a combination of two letters. The above mentioned reforms leave the letter ‘c’ out of a job, so ‘c’ will be used to represent the ‘ch’ sound.

– The letter ‘c’ is currently also used to represent the sound ‘sh’, for example in the word ‘especially’. In such cases, the letter combination ‘sh’ that represents the ‘sh’ sound everywhere else will be used.

These ideas may or may not be my own; It could be that I’ve read them somewhere ages ago and forgotten about it, but in any case, they make sense to me.

Excerpt from “The star”:

It was on the first day of the New Year that the announcement was made, almost simultaneously from three observatories, that the motion of the planet Neptune, the outermost of all the planets that wheel about the sun, had become very erratic. Ogilvy had already called attention to a suspected retardation in its velocity in December. Such a piece of news was scarcely calculated to interest a world the greater portion of whose inhabitants were unaware of the existence of the planet Neptune, nor outside the astronomical profession did the subsequent discovery of a faint remote speck of light in the region of the perturbed planet cause any very great excitement. Scientific people, however, found the intelligence remarkable enough, even before it became known that the new body was rapidly growing larger and brighter, that its motion was quite different from the orderly progress of the planets, and that the deflection of Neptune and its satellite was becoming now of an unprecedented kind.

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