Thursday 26th June 2008

There has been some talk about simplifying the spelling of words in the English language. I can’t help but think they are rather missing the point. Surely before any spelling, new or otherwise, is simple you have to make sure everyone can agree what it sounds like in the first place. If I am not much mistaken the words ‘is it not’ are abbreviated to ‘isn’t it’ are abbreviated to ‘init’ and by some to ‘int it’. How can you possibly agree a common spelling? You can argue this is just the youth of today but take ‘bath’ and to be frank I’d rather not, but just supposing you did, would you spell it ‘barth’ or ‘bath’. If you said both of those the same way you’re clearly not from these parts! You may wonder what right a Swiss dog born in Belgium has to comment on this. Firstly in my ancestral homeland they can’t even agree what the language is. In one part they have a version of German that is unique to them and in the other they have a version of French, also unique to them. However, I would rather compare it to the land of my birth where there are again two languages, well three if you include the small area that speaks German. There is the part that speaks French and from what I can gather this is at least broadly the same language as the French and then there is the area I was born in that speaks Flemish, a version of Dutch. I will eventually get to the point I’m making. Anyway in Flemish they did have an exercise to simplify the spelling of thousands of words. It just meant that lots of people could no longer spell their own language. There were adults wanting to return to work who had to go back to college to learn to speak their own language, or at least to spell it.