ACBob's ZimZam - Blog

English is in dire need of a spelling reform

2022-03-14 ◦ 3 Minute read

I wrote this article to get acquainted with an icelandic keyboard layout, specifically for the purposes of using the Thorn. If you lack thorn rendering support (god help you), or cannot read the thorn, I have provided an alternative version of the article with all thorns removed. It may be a good idea for screen readers, I'm not sure.

Ahh. English. What an... awful, awful language. Ripe wið words taken from different places because we felt like it, to just plain old inconsistencies. A classic addage, "I before E, except after C"... Unless you're ageing, ancient, or you've broken your cleidomastoid1 during a leisure venture while overseeing your reindeer ðat's seizing a plebeian monoþeist.

We've borrowed so many words it can be quite rough on our þrough-put of þoroughly crafted written works. ðe same characters can be used to pronounce many different sounds, and þat's just plain confusing. We drop certain sounds when we feel like it, at our own discretion. Take 'knight' for example, surely pronounced /knixt/, right? Nope, we drop ðe 'k' and ðe 'gh' to give us /naɪt/. We didn't even provide any indication ðat it was going to be a diphþong.

But ðat's simply what happens to languages, as ðe years travel along and people speak it. It'll drift around aimlessly, ðe sounds updating. Behold; a concept known as a spelling reform! Wiþ its power, you can take a language and completely fix ðe spelling issues wiþ it. A lot of languages in ðe world have decided upon and started spelling reforms. German, French, Russian, Hebrew, what-have-you, ðey've all had spelling reforms in one way or ðe oþer. You know who hasn't2 had any spelling reforms? Ðat's right, English.

Now-now, I'm not suggesting we do anyþing radical like ðe Deseret3 alphabet, just a simple reform. You've no doubt seen ðe þorn (or eð) character ðat's been dominating ðe page. Þorn is a lovely character, is it not? It's a character English used to have. Way back when, in ðe distant time of Middle English, English was written and spoken wiþ þorns. A "Þ" = "th" /θ/. But I propose we don't stop ðere, nay, let us continue and go farðer. Icelandic is a language. Peeking at its' alphabet, we see þings ðat you'd expect from ðe group of "European" alphabets, Æ, Ö, etc. But it also has two funny lil' symbols. Þ/þ and Ð/ð (/ð/), Þorn and Eð. In-fact, Icelandic is ðe ONLY language still alive today ðat uses þorn. It's pretty lonely.

So, I propose ðat much like ðe Icelandic people, we take on ðe reformed characters of þorn and eð. Icelandic too introduced boþ as an act of reform, so why can't we?

  • "Wiþ different dialects, it's impractical to have phonemic characters for all of ðem!"
    It sounds like ðat's less my fault, and more your fault for still calling ðem English. Anyþing along ðe lines of "Aye 'ah noo, It's a wee shame aye, we need t' look in'tae it." Makes me question ðe integrity of ðe phrase 'dialect'. Don't get me started on anyþing American.

Keep in mind ðough, I substituted þorn based on how I pronounce words, þrough ðat meþod it'd be different for you. But I'd þink if we're reforming ðe language, we'd work it out.

  1. Collar bone.

  2. To my knowledge, which was a meagre amount of research so take it wiþ as much salt as you can carry.

  3. Someþing I only just learned about while writing ðis, and immediately went to download a suitable font. Furðermore, 𐐮𐑁 𐐷𐐭 𐐿𐐰𐑌 𐑉𐐨𐐼 𐑄𐐮𐑅, 𐐷𐐭 𐐸𐐰𐑂 𐑊𐐫𐑅𐐻 𐑄 𐑀𐐩𐑋.