Episode 236: Spelling Reform

Sometimes English spelling doesn’t make much sense.

But even though many influential people have tried to reform our wacky orthography, the anomalies persist. Will English spelling reform ever work?

Linguist Daniel Midgley spells it out on this episode of Talk the Talk.

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Promo with Scott Quigg

Show notes

Facebook Reactions, the Totally Redesigned Like Button, Is Here

Facebook: Emojis to beat words with ‘Reactions’ icons

Mark Zuckerberg Asks Racist Facebook Employees to Stop Crossing Out Black Lives Matter Slogans

Mark Zuckerberg Chastises Employees Who Crossed Out ‘Black Lives Matter’ on Facebook’s Signature Wall

Wikipedia: German orthography reform of 1996

English Spelling Society: What is wrong with English spelling?

Stan Carey: A brief history of English spelling reform

History of Spelling Reform

RationalWiki: English spelling reform

Wikipedia: English-language spelling reform

26 of Noah Webster’s Spelling Changes That Didn’t Catch On

Cut Spelling (CS)

NPR: Changes To French Spelling Make Us Wonder: Why Is English So Weird?

Failed Attempts to Reform English Spelling: 8 Spelling Suggestions That Didn’t Stick

What is the origin of the silent ‘b’ at the end of English words such as lamb, comb, crumb and bomb?
“The b-sound was lost by about 1300.”

Etymonline: limb
“The parasitic -b began to appear late 1500s for no etymological reason”

Etymonline: indict

Oxford: 11 spelling changes that would make English easier

Trying to change English’s complex spelling is a waste of time

Oxford Owl: What is synthetic phonics?

Panicum v panic

Pellie: Steve Price under fire as Tim Minchin rejects George Pell’s sick note

Australian Christian Lobby condemns Sydney school’s ‘rainbow politics’ for allowing male students to wear female uniforms

SBS Backburner: Safe Schools Course Teaches Shorten To Stand Up To Bully

As it happened: Unicorns, pixies and politicians hurling abuse over claims of homophobia

A Rainbow Marriage: How did the rainbow become a symbol of gay pride?

Malcolm Turnbull Issues Language Warning to MPs Over Safe Schools Debate

Support the Safe Schools Coalition

Myths debunked: Sadly, Theodore Roosevelt never rode a moose

Gizmodo: That Famous Photo of Teddy Roosevelt Riding a Moose Is Fake

Show tunes

Find the tracks we play on the RTRFM webpage for this episode.


1 Comment

  1. I have a suggestion on how to reform the spelling of the English language in a way that may look intuitive: I have this dictionary, The Grosset Webster Dictionary, published by Grosset & Dunlap, from New York City, that a feature called, “Pronunciations-at-a-Glance”, which is a way to spell out the pronunciation of difficult word without phonetic symbols; that would be a good starting point on how the new spelling should look like. While most of single-word entries have a transcription, many don’t, so if the spelled pronunciation would not affect all of the words. However I don’t think that a spelling reform should be systematic, and usual words, that most people know how to spell should be untouched, as the goal of the orthography, in my opinion, is that people should not depend on the dictionary to know how to pronounce new words that they encounter.
    In the dictionary I mentioned, by example, “blood” is transcribed as /bluhd/, “blossom,” as /blos-‘m/, “blouse,” as either /blows/ or /blowz/, and “blow,” as /bloh/, whereas words like “bloom,” “blot,” and “blotch” are not transcribed. However, since “blow” and “blood” are too common a words, their spelling should never change.
    That’s is my proposal.

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