A Quick Argument for Simpler Language

OK here is just some complaining about people and their spelling authoritarianism. The English language is full of spelling nonsense. Language in general is full of nonsense anyway because no one regulates the creation and use of language. Language is much like life in that it has its own somewhat random evolution, and of course, like life is loaded with the ebb and flow of invasion and emigration of various words. This in itself is a vast and fascinating study. Take for example all the romance language words in English ending in “-tion”. Find yourself a Spanish speaking friend and throw at them every word with that “shun” ending you can and watch them match with the Spanish version which will end in “-ción” (fabrication/fabricatión, bastardization/bastardización, etc) in fact we have many thousands of shared words originating not from the storm swamped armada but from the shared Latin origins of so many influential (influyete) languages.
So it’s rather silly to get too serious about how we speak and how we spell. Yes it’s good to maintain the formal aspects in our age of text-speak, but there are some problems that should be eliminated. They are the kind of schizophrenia that we all fumble with from time to time. Why we continue to do so is a matter of interesting study.
There, they’re, their. Your, you’re, yore. Where, we’re, wear. To, too, two. These are possibly the most commonly fouled spellings in English, and frankly they are entirely unnecessary. We could wholly survive perfectly happily without maintaining these variations. How you say? How can we have single words that mean various things? How will we know which ones we intend? Well my friends anyone asking this question has not noticed that in English not just some but most words do double, triple or even more duty and the spellings remain unchanged. For a quick example consider the word “sign”. First of all it has a ridiculous “g” inserted in there and quite possibly only for regional representation reasons (as in fact, that is why we are stuck with many awkwardly spelled words according to The Story of English). Sign means a construct hung up with information to be read off it. Sign can also mean something people do with their hands to signal one another. Sign is also an action of putting your name on a form. Or try a term like “plug”. It can mean anything that fills a hole, or a chunk of tobacco, or a piece of advertising, or a thing on the end of a cord to stick in an outlet. And on it goes. Basically any word plugged into your dictionary app on your phone will provide endless examples. An argument could be made for all these various meanings to also have unique spellings. The same way Carl Sagan pointed out years ago that an argument could be made to save every egg a woman produces, let alone all the sperm a man does in terms of being pro-life. Maybe we should keep that quiet. Years ago a silly graduate student I shared an office with, for no reason I can imagine, attempted to argue that all these difficulties with spelling were actually meaningful. This fellow, we’ll call him Burt suffered from that mental difficulty of revering authority. This type of disease imagines much reason where none really exists. We maintain the spellings because at this point it’s reasonably easier than the war that would ensue with the purposeful simplification. And for those who would argue that it’s Orwellian to destroy language I’d say firstly that it’s bullshit to think he’d defend the wackiness, as after all there’s no good reason to maintain confusion when a means of accomplishing clarity is so obvious. And secondly there’s nothing beautiful about the frequency of ugly incorrect apostrophes.
In the end, just to have some fun, I’d like to return to the famous English language trick that is GHOTI. Yes Ghoti! If you know this little joke, then you’re all set, move on. But for those of you who haven’t heard about Ghoti here is the punch line. You pronounce Ghoti as fish. Yes it’s spelled “Goat-ee” but we are using the sounds of the letters in their use from particular terms. We’ll take the GH from the word touGH. Which produces a nice F. Then we’ll use the O from the second syllable of the word London. Which sounds just like an “i”. Finally we’ll take the TI from any of those terms we talked about earlier that end in -tion and are pronounced as “Shun”. And there you have it. Fish.
English, to native speakers, is rarely properly used, despite the fact that as our native tongue it ends up seeming utterly sensible even though it clearly isn’t upon just a little bit of study. It only seems so reasonable because we have a lifetime of familiarity with it. The truth is it’s as buggy stupid as any dumb ant colony or the weird mess that is our DNA. These things are functional, but not efficient or intelligently designed. So get over the reverence, language is effective because we can be creative with it. Not because it’s some infallible gift from gods.
I said “Good day, sir!”
Incidentally, there are people who create languages. Esperanto is supposed to be miraculously easier than English and I’ve read that William Shatner is a speaker. Still, more people bothered to learn Klingon (another invented language), but there are many more and some of them are remarkably fascinating as are the people who created them. There is even one created out of the seven notes of the major scale called Solresol. The language was meant to be sung. Tolkien produced a few for his elaborate Lord of the Rings universe. There is even a language called Laadan that was created to better enable women to express their feelings! Enjoy!

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