[LMB] OT: Chinese characters and simplification

Eric Oppen technomad at intergate.com
Fri Aug 29 05:49:53 BST 2008


Quoting "M. Haller Yamada" <thefabmadamem at yahoo.com>:

> Eric says "phooey" to Chinese character simplification. I can   
> sympathize, but since I'm trained on modern Japanese, I kind of like  
>  it. If only the Education Departments in our own countries would   
> have the courage to take the steps to simplify spelling . . . well,   
> I don't know. I'm kind of fond of quirky spellings, and I never had   
> much problem with spelling (well, except for the exceptions, like   
> ephemereal whatever the heck it is). I know there are a lot of   
> people who struggle with spelling, even with a spell check, and it   
> would be nice for them, I think.
> It'll never happen (spelling simplification) unless it's a   
> grassroots movement. Which could happen. Srsly.
> Micki

About the only thing the Soviets _ever_ did that I wouldn't reverse if  
I had the power to do so was to simplify Russian spelling.  They got  
rid of several obsolete and/or redundant letters in the Cyrillic  
alphabet, notably the "yat."  (It looks like a lower-case "b" with the  
up-stroke crossed.  By 1918 it always sounded just like Cyrillic "e,"  
but since there was still this silly distinction, Russian  
schoolchildren had to memorize long nonsense rhymes of words with that  
silly letter in it so they'd know when to use it.)

Having dealt with English spelling easily all my own life long, it's a  
non-issue for me, but I know how much of a stumbling block it is for  
others.  If I were revamping English spelling, I'd add about a dozen  
or so vowel symbols and several consonants, especially for both hard  
and soft "th."  For that, I'd borrow the edh and thorn from Icelandic;  
they were both used in English Back In The Goodoledays.

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