Enuf or Enough? Why Is English Spelling So Random?

letterpress alphabet

Have you had enough (or enuf) trouble spelling to make you want to scream (or skreem?) You are not alone. Since the 17th century, scholars have been protesting the irregularities that occur in English spelling. Reform movements can boast such iconic English-speaking figures Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, and Theodore Roosevelt. English is currently the most widely-spoken language on the planet, yet it is the only language among the top ten most spoken that lacks an official regulatory academy to approve spelling.

One of the problems that spellers face is the diverse origin of English words. German, Latin, French, and Greek are all common sources, and each follows a different set of rules for spelling. Even within any one of these languages, it’s impossible to guarantee internal consistency; when these systems mix together helter skelter, one ends up with English orthography.

Students of the SAT know that memorizing the Latin roots of English words is a great way to expand vocabulary, but most Latin-rooted words entered English usage from French after the Norman Conquest of the 11th century. The British English spelling of colour and centre are vestiges of this relationship. The Normans replaced French as the language of the court, throwing Old English, a Germanic language, out of official usage for 300 years.

By the time English was again allowed at court, it was a French-infused Middle English. Geoffrey Chaucer is a great example of English spelling and pronunciation at this awkward phase. In fact, there was no set form for spelling – there are sentences in The Canterbury Tales in which the same word is spelled differently. This was no fault of Chaucer’s; he was simply following the spelling of the moment.

Our current spelling of words dates to the typical pronunciation of the 15th century, when technology effectively froze English orthography (writing.) The use of the printing press and mass distribution of books for the first time standardized the spelling of words through repetition. Taking into account the variant spelling of Anglo-Saxon words and the French-influenced Latin, English orthography did not respond to contemporary pronunciation, but to the word’s country of origin.

Now the story gets a little tricky. Between 1450 and 1750, English pronunciation went through what linguists call the Great Vowel Shift. How English speakers spoke evolved, yet the letters used to represent the words they spoke remained static.

Some advocates of English spelling reform argue that replacing words with more phonetically accurate letter combinations will enhance literacy. However readers often experience difficulty in fluency when they first approach works written in dialect, such as Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. While the dialect rounds out the characters of the stories, the difficulty reinforces arguments against spelling reform – whose pronunciation is chosen as the “correct” pronunciation that spelling should be modeled for?

Others argue that, while it may at first be difficult, English spelling leaves plenty of keys to unlocking the history and etymology of words, helping readers understand not only the phonetic foundation but also semantic heritage of a word. What do you think? Should English try to “fix” the spelling of words?


  1. uehf ghab -  November 14, 2016 - 7:05 pm

    this is turning my mind to c**p talking about this f**king situation.

    • uehf ghab -  November 14, 2016 - 7:06 pm

      this is pretty complex, probably we should have aq vote.I cant choose wut side to b on.

  2. Rakesh Aggarwal -  November 7, 2016 - 12:00 am

    As most of us agree, changing the system will not be the solution for this. The solution will be to introduce the dual words, Like Cat and Kat can exist in same laguage and have same meaning.

    The most exciting phrase of the story which I extremely agree to is that it will surely increase the rate of literacy and number of English speakers.

    As English is the most common lagunage through out the Globe, It will surely increase the global communication and hence a better world.

  3. Ilencia -  November 2, 2016 - 3:25 pm

    This article is very interesting! I agree that the English language can be extremely confusing at times, but I don’t think that spelling reform should be enforced. We already have our system that we use, and the argument said in this article against spelling reform is very valid. It would be even more confusing to change our way of spelling now, because everything would have to be converted to that spelling, or else later generations won’t be able to read about the past or history and we will be plunged into a dystopian novel. Well, I think that’s enough (not enuf), thanks again for an awesome article!

  4. Ziarre Alston -  October 26, 2016 - 7:27 am

    i dont know but i think enuf is not proper grammar and it sounds like slang use and enough is proper grammar and dont sound like slang use at all so i kinda hafta go with enough

  5. B.Booth -  July 27, 2016 - 8:12 am

    Could not agree more.
    English should be spoken and used as correctly taught in English top schools!

    • Maria Joseph -  August 15, 2016 - 9:52 pm

      I have always wished we could use the phonetic alphabet to ‘spell’ English and indeed all languages. That way we could easily learn to pronounce other languages. The different pronunciations for regional Englishes could be shown on paper etc etc. Bring on the IPA.

    • Pierre -  September 21, 2016 - 11:06 pm

      Years ago my mother showed me a newspaper clipping where the author, suggested some “spelling reform” to our language, and applied those suggestions as the article progressed.
      Gradually, as you readthrough this article, it became more and more difficult to understand what he was actually writing, as the applied suggestion made the text incomprehensible.
      Might anybody out there still have a copy of this article or know where it can be found?

      • Ziarre Alston -  October 26, 2016 - 7:24 am

        idk but i think that enuf is not proper grammar and enough is right grammar so i go with enough because enuf looks like slang

      • Tony -  November 13, 2016 - 5:31 pm

        A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling by Mark Twain

    • Ziarre Alston -  October 26, 2016 - 7:28 am

      i agree so you are right

  6. Paul Brittingham -  May 26, 2016 - 6:47 pm

    Creative post – I loved the facts ! Does anyone know if my company could possibly find a template USCIS I-912 example to type on ?

  7. Art LaPella -  May 25, 2016 - 7:40 pm

    Children and foreigners could learn to read about a year faster if words were spelled the way they sound. That’s what’s important, not trying to preserve history that is freely available on the Internet. Which dialect? Any widely used dialect would be easier to understand than trying to spell words as they sounded in the 1400s, and dialects will converge in the future due to worldwide communication. If we can’t agree on spelling reform, a relaxed attitude toward “lazy” but phonetic spelling would eventually accomplish the same result.

  8. Andrew -  May 17, 2016 - 12:30 am

    I realise how difficult spellings can be in English, having worked with teenagers with learning issues and teaching ESOL in France. However, I love our language just the way it is: words borrowed from many places and languages, each showing it’s roots and providing the richest, most diverse and descriptive words on this planet!

    French, my second language, has become stilted because of the Academy and the French governments’s unwillingness to allow the language to develop. I do not want to see this happen with English, with a group of academic fuddy-duddys arguing over semantics for years – eg: is LOL a word or not? Is it acceptable or not? Can you imagine it?

    As for pronunciation, who is to say whether the Brummie, the Cockney or myself with a Cornish accent is actually saying the word correctly? My rounded accent on the vowel or the Brummie running over it with a steam roller???

    My wish? Leave the language alone to remain the growing, living, breathing entity it has been for the last few centuries! It ain’t broke…..why try and “fix” it?

  9. Ginny B -  March 8, 2016 - 9:03 am

    Just as Elizabeth Bennett said of letting other people know about Wickham’s true character, I say of simplifying the spelling of the English language: “It ought not to be attempted.” With billions of speakers across the globe, gaining consensus about how a word such as “banana” should be pronounced would be a gargantuan, if not impossible, task. How much more difficult it would be to try to agree about “herbs,” “applicable” and “fire” (is “fire” one or two syllables?).

    If we can’t agree how to pronounce them, we can never agree how to spell them.

  10. Kris in Florida -  January 19, 2016 - 9:29 am

    I just find it funny that the word “phonics” is not spelled phonically or fonically. LOL!!

    • Andrew -  May 17, 2016 - 12:31 am

      All these years and I never thought of that! Not as good at irony as I thought? Ha ha!! Well done!

  11. Blankford -  September 17, 2015 - 1:52 pm

    How would you standardize words like “There”, “Their”, and “They’re” or “are” & “our” (some might still say “our” & “hour”) or “Right”, “Write” & “Rite” (particullarly if you don’t want to use accents)? How would you standardize a word like “ice”? Would you write it as “is”?
    At the same time, how would you get the millions and millions of people around the world that know English as either their primary or secondary language to all go to this new spelling as soon as possible? I know of alot of schools here in America that don’t have the funding to get any new textbooks, what about the rest of the world?
    As much as I would love to see a more standardize version of English, it’s just way to complicated that I don’t think it’s worth the effort.

    • Malcolm Taylor -  October 18, 2015 - 4:49 pm

      Solving the problem of homonyms is easier than you might think. If I say, “their are four people,” or “there shoes are by the door,” then you obviously know that I made a mistake. Now, standardizing words does not mean that EVERY homonym must be spelled the same way, but even if that were the case, you can see how context still makes it possible to determine the meaning of the word.
      You are right: convincing people to use spelling that’s different from what they’ve used their whole life is not something that most would necessarily agree to. It might be possible over several generations, though. Let’s say that the old orthography is still in use by a large part of the population, but only one form of spelling is taught in the schools. This means that older generations can use the spelling they’re familiar with, but students currently in school will grow accustomed to using the official orthography. As the new generation grows up, much more of the writing in circulation will use the standard orthography, and over several generations, the transition will have been complete.
      Since English sort-of a premier language in the world, it makes sense that newcomers to language should not have to struggle with such convoluted spelling rules. Establishing a standard might be beneficial for the future.

    • Xiang -  November 2, 2015 - 8:47 pm

      As an english learner, I always find profound difficulties to pronunce some words correctly at the first the time. Especially, when it comes to phonics, the rules say I should pronunce this way, but was incorrect. I am not saying English should change the whole system, but if they add some signs to indicate the accents and how it should be pronunced (like ch sound, Chicago(sh), pitch, machanical(K) )would be nice and helpful. On the other hand, I feel there should be some spelling soldier. I always mix soldier with shoulder.

  12. Denise -  June 20, 2015 - 8:46 am

    Yes, let’s kik the ‘c’ out of the sirkle
    and the ‘ph’ out of the telefones
    and laf like krazy!
    Now, ‘gh,’ pleez tell the plural of ‘you’ to show himself,
    then go sit in the korner!

  13. Pallav Srivastava -  May 29, 2015 - 4:30 am

    But languages evolve, just like people do. we don’t use thou, thy, thine any more, do we?

    • Ronk -  June 1, 2015 - 10:53 pm

      Perhaps thou dost not, but thou shouldst speak for thyself. Some of us do.

      • Aditya -  June 29, 2016 - 8:57 am

        Thine wit sir, is legendary.

  14. Abc -  April 30, 2015 - 2:44 pm

    “English spelling leaves plenty of keys to unlocking the history and etymology of words”
    ==>> history and etymology are not my concern when trying to write something. If I am interested in such, I check the dictionary instead of guessing such things.
    Please standardize and modernize English spelling. And please, stop using Arabic words that do not follow English phonetics, such as Iraq, Al Qaeda …
    And stop the accents on imported French words. English does not and should not use accents. Leave that madness to the French and Spanish.

    • Marmaduke -  May 20, 2015 - 11:29 am

      By ‘standardiSe,’ do you mean force everyone to adopt the vile, American, dumbed-down version of English? ‘Standardize’ is just offensive. So is ‘defense’. Real English has many words that can be used with either an ‘s’ or a ‘c’ eg licence. With a ‘c’ it’s a noun, with an ‘s’ it’s a verb. Yank ‘english’ has no such facility. See how the yanks are dumbing everything down for their stupid population, and ruining a beautiful language in the process?

      • Tom Ladyman -  October 25, 2015 - 1:53 pm

        Mr. Marmaduke, here’s one Yank that was relieved to read your comments. The Left has been dumbing down our educational system, since the 1960s. The process sped up, with Pres. Carter’s creation of the Dept. of Education. Best, Tom L.

        • Aleks Jan -  April 21, 2016 - 1:40 am

          As opposed to the Right Tom who want to deny quality education to all but the wealthy?

      • B.Booth -  July 27, 2016 - 8:04 am

        Cannot agree more.
        English as correctly taught in England!

    • Mr S -  June 5, 2015 - 7:18 am

      accents should not be considered madness. they guide pronunciation, therefore saving people embarrassment. BTW, the reason we use the Arabic for Iraq, et al is that English is alive and therefore absorbs words as it goes on in existence. plus, it is better not to standardise modern English as it reduces the heritage if you do, for example ‘defence’ shows a Norman-French parentage whereas defense does not, and is merely an arrogant insult to the Real English

      • frank -  April 2, 2016 - 7:02 pm

        spelling should be made simpler. with appropriate rules easy to understand , not the hodge podge way it is now.

    • Un-otherized Name -  September 17, 2015 - 7:03 pm


    • Deivid -  December 9, 2016 - 1:26 pm

      Accents aren’t “madness” at all. In fact they are a really helpfull rule that easily makes you instantly recognize the strong syllable of the word. English would be way easier if it had accents.

      Anyways, my biggest problem with the language is that the written english doesn’t make any sense at all when you read it. Why does tear (from crying) or tear (from tearing a muscle) are pronnounced different if they are written the same? That would NEVER happen in Spanish or other romance languages, which unlike english, are totally governed by strict rules. In Spanish one of the first thing they teach you is how each vowel sounds right next to each consonant, once you know that you automatically know how to 100% perfectly pronnounce every single word in the dictionary.

      That’s not the case with english at all. Why does the A in apple souds different to the one in April? Why does the U in Suzy sounds different to the one in Busy? How am I supposed to know the pronunciation of each word if I never heard the word before?

      Like I said that would never happen with romance languages, you know the basic rules you know how to pronounce every single word in the dictionary.

      I speak 3 other languages and I’ll tell you english is by far the worst constructed language of all. It just doesn’t make any sense.

  15. Quora -  April 6, 2015 - 8:58 am

    Why do some words have silent letters?

    On the assumption you mean English, it’s because the written language no longer follows the spoken language. The orthography has been frozen in time, while the phonology continues to evolve. The invention of the printing press, which locked in spellin…

  16. sayyed mehmood -  March 27, 2015 - 4:56 am

    English Most Importent All Ways

  17. Leonard -  March 22, 2015 - 6:28 am

    “The Normans replaced French as the language of the court, throwing Old English, a Germanic language, out of official usage for 300 years.”

    If not actually wrong, using “replaced French” in the first clause of the above sentence is very confusing. The Normans didn’t replace French, they replaced Old English.

  18. Lindsay -  March 18, 2015 - 6:37 pm

    I just checked on several websites.
    While we have only 26 letters in the alphabet, there are 44 “sounds” for consonants & vowels in the English language. Phew!!

    • bringing-midnight -  March 31, 2015 - 4:24 pm

      And while everyone grumbles and argues about big things in English, let’s just remember that sometimes Y is a vowel, sometimes it’s a consonant.
      Oh, English. You trY.

      • punzy -  January 5, 2016 - 10:07 am

        oooooooooooooooh punz!

        • punzy -  January 5, 2016 - 10:09 am

          punz ^-^

  19. Lindsay -  March 18, 2015 - 6:01 pm

    Golly gosh, this article has raised so much comment!
    My view is that as English has, by default, become the “universal” language, the spelling could surely be simplified. The majority of comments here seem agreed on this.
    As the original article points out, English has changed & changed over the centuries (try reading Chaucer in the original).
    The problem with simplification however, again as discussed in the article under “the great vowel shift”, is dialects & accents.
    For standardized spelling to occur, an “accent” would need to be selected. I would personally go for what we call BBC English, but I doubt this would be agreeable to all.
    We already have a standardized spelling system in existence; the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Many British dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) & some learner’s dictionaries 
    such as the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, now use the IPA. However they have to work around regional variants of words & accents; it is a minefield.
    Have you thought about how many sounds there are for the letter “a” alone? It requires far more than the 26 letters currently used.
    The OLD already has the entire English language in phonetic spelling. Could you read it?
    It would be fascinating to try wouldn’t it.
    NB. For the record, I am a somewhat pedantic New Zealander. As I am an avid traveller, I am extremely grateful that so many people now speak English as their second language. I feel for my many European friends as they valiantly master our complex & rich vocabulary. For me the whole point of language is for communication. Anything that aids communication & improves & deepens understanding is a step towards peace.

    • Vasya -  April 27, 2015 - 12:59 am

      If you Anglo-Saxons started humbly learning the languages of “your European friends”, THAT would indeed be a step towards peace.

      As long as it’s THEM who learn YOUR english language, you both will only only be stepping towards the Anglo-Saxon world-view and Anglo-Saxon world-domination. Since the world money supply is regulated by Anglo_Saxons and the most heavily armed nation on earth is also Anglo-Saxon, no peace will occur while the english language reigns supreme.

      Maybe you should both try to learn a “neutral” language (that is, one not spoken in either of your countries) – Hindi, Japanese, Chechen, Filipino?

      • Mr S -  June 5, 2015 - 7:20 am

        please don’t use our language against itself
        from a concerned Brit

      • Tom Ladyman -  October 25, 2015 - 3:28 pm

        Lindsay sounds like a typical teacher at our grand daughter’s Primary school, with the silly, gooey Sentiments of the Left. Vasya: The “heavily armed” English-speaking countries prevented the “Japanese” Empire from ethnically cleansing the “Filipino” People and language from the Earth, along with the rest of the Pacific islands, China and, perhaps, the “Hindi” population. Germany (I know—Anglo-Saxon.) would have taken all of Europe, Middle East, and No. Africa.

        • Aleks Jan -  April 21, 2016 - 1:47 am

          Actually Tom it was the peoples of the Soviet Union who were largely responsible for the defeat of Nazi Germany.

          On top of that the Anglo-Saxons have done more than their fair share of ethnic cleansing and worse in places like North America and Australia.

          I should also point out that Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were run by “the Right”.

      • Glen -  December 3, 2015 - 11:18 am

        Just curious, Lindsay has stated she is from New Zealand, (a county not in Europe by the way, but a country in a large ocean on the other side of the world called the Pacific Ocean). A country whose population is made up from immigrants from around the world, yet you suggest she should be learning the languages of her “European Friends”. (Not to mention you offer examples of languages she should learn that you say are not spoken in her country, but i can guarantee Hindi is spoken in “her” country to a surprising extent, and surprises of surprises, Hindi is also widely spoken on the UK also.

        Personally, from her post I can not tell if she is “Anglo-Saxon” or not, or even if she is just of Anglo-Saxon descent. I can tell she is a Kiwi though, but you must have amazing clairvoyance to determine anything more about her ancestry than that.

        But it really seems you are using “Anglo-Saxon” as a code word for any English speaker rather than what Anglo-Saxon” actually means.

        And how the hell can a language be neutral. The meaning you prescribed to neutral is most definitely not a meaning used in English, not even in US English.

        Last note, I do think it benefits everyone, including Native English speakers to learn a foreign language. It is good to be open to new ways of thinking about things, and open yourselves up to new culture and experiences.

        (I have no idea what “Tom Ladyman” is even talking about below. His post just does not make sense, despite it seemingly being in English. I can not reconcile his post with Lindsay’s post in any way at all, unless he has just gone off on some unrelated rant that only makes sense in his own mind :). Hmm, unless it is some bizarre post that is some hybrid rant at both Lindsay and Vasya, where it dismisses Lindsay as weak, while at the same time using some bizarre american style jingoism to retort to Vasya).

  20. muhammad imtiyaz ahmad pahoo pulwama kashmir -  March 4, 2015 - 10:50 am

    the basic problem with enlish is the odd distinction betwixt writting and pronounciation. You are writting ” education, psychology, know, gole, etc ” but u have to pronounce it “ejucashion, sykolgy, no, goel,etc respectively English did not follow the same sounds which could be delivered by the tounge or mouth or the vocal cords.

    • Kit Snicket -  March 9, 2015 - 7:48 pm


      You are on Dictionary.com, my dear. Spelling counts.

      • bringing-midnight -  March 31, 2015 - 3:48 pm


  21. spam.annoying@hotmail.com -  September 1, 2014 - 7:12 pm


    • kae -  November 26, 2014 - 7:18 am

      Probably not.

      There’s enough pressure to be “politically correct” which is one of the beauties of English–it allows for the incorporation of foriegn words into the lexicon–don’t think I’d trust some “body” of expertise trying to wield power where there is liberty. Most of us don’t even get that uptight if a thing is mispelled/mistyped/mispronounced here and there–it’s more about the intent of the communication than the distillation of some perfected edict.

      • JC Hudson -  November 7, 2015 - 1:19 pm

        Please try to convince my professor that spelling doesn’t matter.

    • Sandra Pinnel -  January 18, 2015 - 3:56 pm

      Your title poses the question:
      “Enuf or Enough? Why is English spelling so random?”

      You are actually asking the wrong question as relating to “Enuf” and “Enough” – and the propensity to utilize the shortened version is anything but random. The causation relates to adaptation to the technology that has come into vast use called “text-talk”; that is, conversations that take place via text messaging. The shortened spelling “enuf” promotes conservation of letter use; resulting in conveying the same thought while using less space.
      However, from my observation, the text-talk version of the word is appearing in areas where space conservation is unimportant, for some reason. It may be something as simple as a misunderstanding on the part of the user; who thinks that “enuf” is the correct spelling of it’s root word “enough”. There is also a large subset of society to whom correct spelling is unimportant. Myself personally – I’m really into words – and the usage of the most precise words I know of; with which to express thought. Learning new words is an ongoing process for me, and it is important to me to communicate effectively – and misspelled words and incorrect or inadequate use of words is an evaluative tool that folks use who possess a higher level of education. The limits of one’s use of language limits their world that they confine themselves to. To read a white paper that contains misspelled words results in doubting the credibility of the information – because it simply isn’t done. I may be coming from a position of bias; in a sense; because correct spelling has always been a “thing” with me – I won spelling bees as a young child, and I seem to have been blessed with a natural gift for being able to spell correctly – just like some people are gifted at Mathematics. Everyone has a gift of some sort that they are able to excel at.

      One more consideration: it is important that we strive to preserve the heritage of our country, and the English language along with it. America is called “the melting pot” because it welcomes people from other cultures – but English is the language that is spoken in America to enable folks from all other cultures to communicate with each other. When my Grandfather came to America from Sweden, he said the most important thing he did first was to learn English – he said that to do anything else was not showing respect for the country that had welcomed him with open arms. As well, it was a matter of survival – for information was only written in English – not also in Swedish. When I see information written in Spanish nowadays, I wonder, “What compels a spanish-speaking person to learn English like everyone else, if they are catered to in spanish?” That answer’s simple: nothing – unless they feel a high level of respect for America like my Grandfather did – and I just don’t observe that kind of respect these days.

      • Jane -  January 21, 2015 - 11:17 am

        “What compels a spanish-speaking person to learn English like everyone else, if they are catered to in spanish?”

        Job opportunities.

      • Joe -  February 9, 2015 - 12:12 pm

        You write very well. I wish I had that problem. Are you a writer? If not you should start immediately. You obviously have talent with words

        Thx (author, add that to the title too;)

      • Lindsay -  March 18, 2015 - 4:28 pm

        Hello Sandra, while you seem to style yourself a language purist, you show a lack of ability to use language correctly and succinctly. Your random use of colons, semi-circle and dashes makes your message difficult to follow.

        This must be the worst sentence I’ve seen in a while, and the triple tautology is amazing.
        “Myself personally – I’m really into words – and the usage of the most precise words I know of; with which to express thought.”

        May I quote the examples I noticed on a cursory read:
        # the correct spelling of it’s root word
        # folks use who possess a higher level of education
        # The limits of one’s use of language limits their world that they confine themselves to
        # doubting the credibility of the information – because it simply isn’t done
        # I may be coming from a position of bias; in a sense; because 
        # just like some people
        # that they are able to excel at
        # the most important thing he did first 

      • Malcolm Taylor -  October 18, 2015 - 6:34 pm

        I just want to say that America has no official language. Regardless, I can sympathize with the sentiments of your grandfather–I just wish Americans had even a bit of that respect for other cultures.
        They say the United States is a melting pot; it’s more a system incomplete conformism. Looking at history, almost every race, religion, and nationality that was not the majority had to go through its phase of being ostracized. This includes the Irish and eastern Europeans. While whites were naturally more capable of blending in, other races, such as Asians and Hispanics, had a harder time (I won’t even discuss blacks). In the “Nation of Immigrants” all of the people who didn’t get here first had to go through the trouble of trying to make themselves less noticeable by shedding their differences as best they could. Of course, some things stuck, and that is why America has a variety of foods as well as its own words and expressions.
        Even now, many Americans (and I would argue, mostly white Americans) are against the current swarm of immigration. I, personally, like the idea of immigration, and I am not a Spanish speaker, but I have no problem accommodating people who speak different languages. Just because we did not do it in the past does not mean we as Americans should ignore or criticize differences now.

      • Aleks Jan -  April 21, 2016 - 1:52 am

        Sandra, if Americans really want to preserve the culture of their country they should learn the languages of Native Americans.

  22. Writers Block -  August 17, 2014 - 6:50 am

    There are many things annoying about the English language that we know of today. I’m better at spelling than what I was when growing up, but I continually see too often, mistakes, (probably from lack of tying or laziness) used on the internet, and I’m not talking about those words where you have to think about how a word is spelled, mainly the common ones, for example, there, their and they’re, where and were, lose and loose and so on. The problem I have found being on the internet for nearly 20 years, is that more and more people are becoming carefree with their spelling, and this really does bug me when I see it on a daily basis. Even the use of acronyms is growing and using them as words, like lol, yolo or even tmi. These are not words, and so many that are used today stemmed from sending sms from a mobile, but now it’s widely used on the internet, (more so when not needed because you have less of a limit of use of characters)
    The question is, why are words spelled the way they are? Why isn’t remote spelled like remoat? Or bought instead of bort? Why did they have to spell phone instead of fone? It just seems common sense to me to spell a word the way it sounds.
    About 2 years ago, the kids came home from school, and one of them was talking about sheep, and I corrected her when she said sheeps, and she no, that is how we spell it now. Why change it? Why is the written language changing? Why can’t it be a set thing and stay that way?

    • Alex Marshall, UK -  October 3, 2014 - 5:29 pm

      I’m a big fan of spelling reform. Many other languages -Russian, Finnish, Spanish, Italian, and German – have phonetically spelling systems. Italian only has 350 awkward words, whereas the average 16 year old in English speaking countries will have come across 3,500. The Finns and the Spanish don’t even have spelling bees – and they certainly don’t have spelling dictionaries! It takes the average Russian child just over four months to learn to spell comprehensively in their mother tongue.

      English definitely has the worst orthography: http://www.interlingua.fi/angl/speldear.htm

      • Elhana Starwind -  December 30, 2015 - 6:27 am

        Russian does not have a phonetic spelling system (it has a morphophonetic one), its spelling is being taught during all 11 school years, and most Russians without a tertiary education cannot spell properly. Just 2¢.

    • Shuggie the textbook -  December 11, 2014 - 8:19 am

      They ( anyone who actually spell ) spell phone the way that they do because they are alluding to the old greek letter Phi which is used to make the fuh sound ( Note that PHI is spelled with a P & H ). Phone itself stems from telephony which is pronounced TELEH-FOH-NEE not Telly-Fonee. I believe that the problems that modern a merrycans ( sorry couldnt resist poking a bit fun there ) have with this stem from the huge influx of non English speaking people that country saw back in the day coupled with bad literacy rates & grammaticity of the English speakers who where there at that time. Back then those people spelled the words how they sounded & so some of it has stuck. Now we are lumped with words like Aluminum which is nuts because nobody calls titanium titanum or rubidium rubidum, Get an oxford dictionary and show it to people who want use default positions like hey i thought you people ( The english ) invented this language so learn to spell our American way ( im scottish by the way which is not actually a city in England ). I think its all academic really. There! i done said it y’all

      • Jane -  January 21, 2015 - 10:58 am

        Americans pronounce ‘aluminum’ the way we spell it. We also put the stress on the second syllable, not the third.

        a LOO mi num
        al yoo MIN ee um

        Apologies for my non-IPA transcription.

        • Johns -  May 3, 2015 - 4:05 am

          But in British English we do not pronounce it as a LOO mi num, and our spelling is different. aluminium. We also pronounce advertisement, tomato, and mirror differently. check the IPA dictionary again, prefarably Cambridge or Oxford. By the way, Americans don’t follow IPA.

        • Malcolm Taylor -  October 18, 2015 - 6:50 pm

          Peeple are soo pettty.

      • Henry Haus -  February 10, 2015 - 6:19 pm

        What an ill-informed comment. It should be noted that there are many aspects of American pronunciation (particularly our rhotic pronunciation of the letter R in most positions) that reflect English as it was spoken in England during early colonial times. It wasn’t until after the colonization of North America began that the southern English accent began to become non-rhotic. Also, your judgment of one pronunciation as better or worse than another is horribly bigoted. Aluminum is a relatively new word and entered the American language separately. We are under no compunction to adopt the same spelling or pronunciation that the English did when it entered the language thousands of miles away. And your bizarre claim that any American would insist that the British adopt our spelling is ridiculous. Finally, Americans are as literate and grammatically correct as any other native speakers in other English-speaking country. Indeed, few of our dialects diverge as drastically from the standard as do many English dialects. I would add that there are some aspects of American English which have stayed much truer to English roots. A good example is our continued insistence on the use of the subjunctive mood in instances when it isn’t used in Britain. So I’m not sure what “problems” we Americans have with spelling that aren’t shared by British speakers of English. From my experience on the internet, orthography presents as much of a problem to my English Facebook friends as it does to my American ones. And just as many of my American Facebook friends are as adept at spelling as my English ones. Few Americans have need of the Oxford English Dictionary, but the spelling reflected in Webster’s is authoritative for us. And yet I wouldn’t direct any British speakers of our common language to go “get a copy” of Webster’s to prove any point that I might want to make about our spoken language. English is not a regulated language. Usage – both orthographic and grammatical – dictates the form our language takes. What’s amazing is not our differences but our continued commonalities.

        • barebones -  June 14, 2015 - 8:14 am

          Webster’s is a generic reference to a dictionary, usually any one that used to define American English words. It could refer to any dictionary in any language.

          At one time, the G.C. Merriam version of “Webster’s” was an official reference. Don’t know what’s the “official” one now!

        • Glen -  December 3, 2015 - 4:42 pm

          Henry Haus, i am not sure you have encountered the internet. All over the internet the majority of people trying to correct the spelling of others, is Americans trying to correct non-American English speakers. From forums to Facebook to twitter to even commenters on media articles from other Commonwealth nations. Not to say that non-Americans do not do this, but the overwhelming majority seem to Americans subscribing to some sort of American exceptionalism in spelling :).

          But i generally have no issue with the differences in spelling (except in the cases where a word with a specific meaning exists, but another word with a different meaning has it’s original meaning discarded so it can replace an already existing word, eg Milliard being replaced by Billion which means Trillion had to replace Billion).

          Webster was a very strong believer in American exceptionalism as well as simplifying spelling to how English sounded (in his ears), and a lot of American spelling is just him respelling words how he thought they should be spelt. Though not even he could get Americans to accept “Tung” instead of “Tongue” or “Wimmen” instead of “Woman” ;).

        • Ziarre Alston -  October 26, 2016 - 7:25 am

          why yall writing all these long 4 paragraph messages?

    • Nate -  December 11, 2014 - 2:00 pm

      That comment is kind of ironic considering you spelled “trying” wrong.

  23. Gbemmie -  August 6, 2014 - 9:02 am

    English is really confusing,one has to b extra careful and think faster especially when it comes to spelling.anyway english is still the best way!!!!!

  24. dashmeet -  July 29, 2014 - 4:17 am

    Reading is good “Passive” way of improving vocabulary, but when you are resorting to making lists, that is “Active” method. Problem with active method of learning words is that it is cumbersome and boring, and you doing retain and unless you use it in writing sentences to apply the word, very little chance is that you increase your lexical size.

    Improve Your Vocabulary – VocabMonk is an active learning tool which is personalized and makes sure you grasp the learnt words by applying it. It is lot of fun too as you can play vocab challenges with your friends.

    Give it a shot!

  25. Ron V -  July 17, 2014 - 12:10 pm

    Why are you describing English spelling as “random”? It’s not random; it’s, in some cases, “odd,” or “hard to decipher,” or “strange.”

    According to you guys, “random” means “proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern.”

    Random would be spelling “rough’ as “akdfbi” and “tough” as “xptwsh.”

    • Mew Mew Minto -  August 15, 2014 - 6:56 pm

      I no rit?

    • Lex Lugar -  August 17, 2014 - 8:41 pm

      I believe that spelling does need to be fixed. Take these into account. Cough, tough, through, though, thought, thou. He was too close to close the door. The farm was mainly used to produce produce. He wound the tourniquet around the wound. She went to the studio to record a record. And there are many many others. There, their, they’re; you’re, your, yore.

      • Jane -  January 21, 2015 - 11:19 am

        We have one letter (e) to represent the first vowel sounds in both pronunciations of ‘record’. How do you suggest we remedy that?

        • Tanit -  January 31, 2015 - 12:40 pm

          record (like in b’e'd) and ricord pronouced with the latin ‘I’.
          That’s what I call consistency in phonetic pronunciation.

          • bringing-midnight -  March 31, 2015 - 3:55 pm

            While it would keep with phonetics, English is not the only language with words like that. All languages have them, so it’s not something that makes English odd.

  26. sabine -  June 24, 2014 - 4:45 am

    english is very confusing but i like it

  27. frank -  June 8, 2014 - 10:54 pm

    I am a native speaker of the English language, and I admit that English spelling is absolutely ridiculous! How can there be “spelling bees” about trying to spell “right” a certain word if the words in English are not even consistent with their own rules? To say that there is a “correct” spelled form of English is to say that there is a “correct” form of how to spell in the most inconsistent and stupid way possible. I have studied multiple languages from multiple language families and I have yet to encounter a single one that is as horribly spelled as English is.

    First off, English has spelling rules that are consistent in one way: the rules are always broken. Second of all, the fact that people fight over whether “colour” or “color” and “centre” or “center” is ridiculous, the words should be spelled “culr” and “centr”. The silent e’s, i’s, and inconsistent digraphs “oo”, “ou”, etc. are also a silly. Third, there should be a phonetic spelling and the introduction of new (or modified) letters to represent digraph sounds like “ch”, “sh”, and the ‘s’ in pleasure. Did any of you ever notice that “th” has two sounds, an unoiced version like in “thick” and a voiced version like in “them”? The vowels are also very annoying. Why is “ey” spelled “a” or “maynd/maind” spelled “mind” or “meyn” spelled “main” & “mane” and “gow” spelled “go”? Also, if you silly pro-spelling rules people are so anal about keeping the spelling, then why don’t you complain about “white” being pronounced as “wite” instead of “hwite”, which is the CORRECT pronunciation.

    So just stop being stubborn about the idiotic spelling of modern English (why would you want to keep such a ridiculously inconsistent spelling)? Go for a phonetic spelling (the silent i and silent e can be represented a unique letter). Represent all sounds that have no letter with a letter of their own. Add new words (import from German, Greek, Spanish/Latin/French, Irish, heck even Arabic, Persian, Russian, or Turkish) and Anglicize them and spell them phonetically (keep ‘they’re’ make new words for ‘their’ and ‘there’ or pronounce them differently). Get rid of the digraphs because they are a waste of time. The only digraphs that could be kept are the ones for vowels to distinguish the different ‘a’ sounds for example, but be consistent with it! And finally, don’t copy foreign words word-for-word and spell them just like in the language they come from, and then Anglicize them, it is such an ugly part of English – for example: it’s pronounced ‘Albukerky” yet still ‘Albuquerque’ or the pronunciation of “Coodeita” versus the actual spelling “Coup d’etat” (also “Wan” vs. “Juan” and “Hozey” vs “Jose” the list goes on and on).

    • Shuggie the textbook -  December 11, 2014 - 8:35 am

      We spell coup detat this way because its a french saying & composed of 2 words unlike coodeita which is 1 word and quite frankly ridiculous along with most of your suppositions. We true english speakers spell the way we do in order to be respectful to the nations who spawned those words unlike Americans in general who dont care who they offend most of the time ( P.S. Im not offended, im only trying to offer a sensible explanation so all you out there who read this please dont melt your faces over this after all we are only talking here )

    • Jane -  January 21, 2015 - 11:12 am

      ‘Juan’ and ‘Jose’ are not English words. They are Spanish names. English speakers have no business telling Spanish speakers how to spell their names.

      The problem with your plan is that Standard American English has approximately 42 sounds (depending on how you count some of the vowel sounds) but only 26 letters. I can’t imagine introducing 16 new letters would make things any easier.

      I pronounce ‘white’ as ‘hwite’, as do all the English speakers I know.

      The term is ‘voiceless’, not ‘unvoiced’. There’s another term, ‘devoiced’, but it means something different.

      Should we get rid of all the digraphs by creating new letters, or keep digraphs for some vowel sounds? You can’t have it both ways.

    • Lindsay -  March 18, 2015 - 4:53 pm

      Hello Frank, I do love the vagaries of our spelling, & the richness of English. I believe that because English has, by default, become the “universal” language, it is time we moved to simplification.
      But it isn’t simple is it . . .
      To me culr and centr are unpronouncable.
      I would put kʌlə & sentə.
      It is interesting that Esperanto never really caught on.

    • Sue -  August 13, 2015 - 8:57 pm

      Try telling that to approximately 355.5 million people who speak that as their native tongue to change the language that they were LITERALLY born with. SURE it would make things easier for foreigners but changing the core rules of the 2nd most used language will result in difficulty.
      Also to those of you who keep saying that “American spelling is RUINING our beautiful language” should just leave. Honestly, I’m not even American and i still believe that their spelling is fine.If British and Canadians can add ‘u’ to color and switch around letters such as in ‘grey’ then Americans can say ‘aluminum’. You spell to fit your accent and they spell to fit theirs.

    • Ivan -  February 14, 2016 - 4:32 pm

      Hi, I’ve seen that a very common error or difficulty that I’ve noticed in some people is the diphthongs of the English vowels or their pronunciation not only in words of foreign origin like French words, but also in Germanic words , do they have a purpose?? I don’t understand the purpose of them, for example in Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Portuguese those languages have diphthongs but they are easier than English if you learn the rules, but I haven’t found a rule to know when the vowel sound with a diphthong, and when the vowel sounds like in Spanish or in French, for example in Spanish vowels sound always like you write them.
      /a/ = “ah” father, saw papa, agua
      /e/ = “eh” met, bed esperanza, bebe
      /i/ = “ee” bee, leaf sí, chica
      /o/ = “oh” low, know loco, bonito
      /u/ = “oo” sue, do
      In French for example the word “Séparé” (sehpareh) and in Spanish “Separar”(separ-are) they sound like they are written, but in English the word “Separate” the diphthong is in the second “A” and it sounds like “Ay” not like “ah”, even though it has a French origin in English they added a diphthong, but why??? Like the word “Virus” in Spanish is “Virus” but pronounced “Veeroos” and also in French, but why in English it has to have a diphthong and it becomes “Vyerus”, they always have diphthongs, and not all the people know when to pronounce it, so sometimes instead of saying “Potayto” they say “potahtuh” and that happens to people that their native language is French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, German etc. so when did the vowels became with diphthongs in English? Why couldn’t they be without difficult diphthongs like in French or Spanish vowels even though many words are the same in those three languages, but in English it has to have a diphthong.

  28. Driftboy -  June 4, 2014 - 6:48 am

    Well I believe that sinc eeverybody has been given the freedom of speech :-) they should just leave at that, because everybody express themselves in different ways so if I choose to spell something differently but relavatly, why not let it be :-D

  29. R0s!£ -  June 3, 2014 - 9:24 am

    I think English is v. confusing but also v. awesome because of this. In some languages they spell words exactly how they’re said so when they come to learning English they may have a few problems…
    I reckon this is a BIG advantage for all English users out there… (including me) !! :-)

  30. Fatimah -  June 3, 2014 - 5:30 am

    English is really messed up. I don’t know why it’s the most spoken language in the world IT’S OWN PEOPLE know it’s messed up. Everyone should just learn Arabic. Now that’s a language that’s spelled the way it’s pronounced.

    • me -  June 3, 2014 - 1:15 pm

      LOL DUDE

    • Bill -  June 4, 2014 - 6:28 am

      There are many languages that are spelled the same way they are pronounced. These are referred to as phonetic languages. However, there is a major deficit of these languages: they are limited to only the sounds in their alphabet. English has numerous sounds associated with many of it’s letters, and there is nothing that prevents a word from being pronounced in a non-English style. Examples include coup d’etat and el nino, which can each be pronounced in the Anglicized way or with the original languages’ pronunciations. Ergo, everyone should not learn Arabic. Everyone should learn English.

      • Shuggie the textbook -  December 11, 2014 - 8:45 am

        YES exactly, we english speakers have no problem saying el nino as el neenyo bacause we know that the latinised langauges pronounce their letter i in the same way as we pronounce the ee sound. I geuss it all comes down to how much of an education you have and how much you care about your language, ergo, in order defend something like this you must know something about it but as it goes i do not have a university or college education i just read a lot & the countries i have visited have opened my mind to different possibilties

    • Jane -  January 21, 2015 - 11:15 am

      I cannot take seriously the suggestions of a person who doesn’t know the difference between ‘its’ and ‘it’s’. They are entirely different words with entirely different meanings.

  31. Raymond -  June 1, 2014 - 4:16 pm

    Correcting the current (correct) form of the English Language will reduce humanity to a pool of babbling imbeciles.

    Long Live the correct form of English, which is an art form, to be aspired to.

    • Shuggie the textbook -  December 11, 2014 - 8:49 am

      We wouldnt be having this debate were it not for the constant irratations of having the google spell check constantly trying to change my perfectly spelled words to some indeciferable babble called americanese ( titter )

    • Jeremy -  July 9, 2016 - 7:53 pm

      The current English you talk about has already reduced people to illeterate imbeciles, you call a spelling mess correct is absolutely wrong.

      If you want English as an art go enjoy any form of weird spelling you like. But as an International Language English must be simplified and standardized.

      Enuf nonsens, let us reform, do not let da Progres hating kafers continu to destroy awer languag by insisting it to be overkomplikated

  32. Craig Frane -  May 30, 2014 - 4:33 pm

    Rough (ruf), bough (bohw), bought (bot), slough (sloo), lough (lok)…
    We need to fix English… -_-

    • bringing-midnight -  March 31, 2015 - 3:59 pm

      What is a “slough” that is pronounced like you suggest?!
      Also, what is a “Lough”?

  33. margaret nahmias -  May 29, 2014 - 10:06 am

    See how similar efforts have gone in the Lusophone world, I think it would be a nightmare. Portugual opposed the Orthgraphic agreement and it haves taken almost 20 years to put it into the effect But ESL students show learn the how and whys of English phonetics. Just young native speakers do. I don’t blame illiteracy on the language, if that were the case we’d probably have a lot more who can’t read. However, making it more phonetic might reduce the learning curve.

    • S P Chaudhari -  January 26, 2015 - 11:40 pm

      Marge,,I partially understood suggestion.What is ESL? I do not know.But Portuguese English have script in common only,rest is very different. Why don’t you avail English pronunciations as standard for Portuguese also so
      solve the problem? After all English speakers outnumber Portuguese by a vast margin.

  34. Triksta -  May 29, 2014 - 1:59 am

    English has to be the only language that you can cut a tree down – and then cut it up!

    • Jason -  May 29, 2014 - 3:12 pm


    • word fanatic -  May 29, 2014 - 5:26 pm


    • Someone -  May 29, 2014 - 9:25 pm


    • Dsan -  May 30, 2014 - 12:58 pm

      Every language has its problems and there aren’t easy solutions. There is no one-size-fits-all change.

      Part of the difficulty of our language is the sheer number of sounds we use. How those sounds are spelled can certainly be confusing, but learning the sounds is difficult enough for many. Conversely, there are also many languages that have a more limited set of sounds. It is easier to learn such pronunciation but there are problems with synonyms and homonyms. When your sound options are limited the combinations that create words are also more limited.

      Some of the simpler languages, as far as number of sounds, also use a syllabary instead of an alphabet. Each character represents one syllable, or sound. Put them together and you have your word. But wait, there are only so many sounds to go around. Context is often adequate but you may also need intonation. Accents and change of pitch at certain parts of the word to specify its meaning.

      Is that the kind of thing we want to head toward? Or are we really going to try to make precise phonetic spellings for every single sound in the “English” language? Guess what? Slang and dialect will STILL occur and render the effort pointless.

      Another point is precision. Ideological languages can leave something to be desired in specificity. English is/can be daunting but it gives a level of accuracy to communication that is rivaled by few.

      Of course, these days people just say English has too many synonyms. Instead, it’s that we’ve forgotten the differences in meaning between similar words.

      It would suffice to say that I think a drastic change is impossible and irrelevant.

      • S P Chaudhari -  January 26, 2015 - 11:48 pm

        Marge,,I partially understood suggestion.What is ESL? I do not know.But Portuguese English have script in common only,rest is very different. Why don’t you avail English pronunciations as standard for Portuguese also so
        solve the problem? After all English speakers outnumber Portuguese by a vast margin.
        To Dsan,,There is always a possibility of slang,,,But what we fear most of spelling of Chevrolet,,, pronounce it & make British or american understand it too.Let alone be the accent,poor grammer etc.

      • Anwulf -  January 29, 2015 - 8:15 am

        The biggest problem with English is not that it has so many sounds but that the way we write those sounds is inconsistent.

        The sh sound is written: ch, ci, s, sci, si, ss, ti, xi, and sh; a flagrant violation of the elementary rule that each sound of a tung should hav one steddy way of writing it

        The ea digraph can be a long ē (meat), a short e (stead), or a long a (break).

        It goes on and on.

    • Dsan -  May 30, 2014 - 1:00 pm

      Aaaaand I hit the wrong button. Wrote a reply instead of a general comment. Go me!

    • Bill -  June 4, 2014 - 6:30 am

      …and where a house burns down as it burns up.

  35. Martin -  May 28, 2014 - 4:15 pm

    Sorry for laughing at the fact that this is about English spelling, and the link to this (from the homepage) spelled “what” instead of “why”. :P

  36. Lisa -  May 25, 2013 - 4:45 am

    The first to reply “Matthew Hayes” had such atrocious spelling it had to be a set up. It’s amusing to see Americans advocating for no change to the English language spelling. America has ripped apart the spelling of English. Nite instead of Night, inquiry instead of enquiry, almost every word containing s in it replaced by z e.g. (that means for example), customize instead of customise, center instead of centre. blond instead of blonde etc. etc.(that means etcetera which means more) and I won’t bore you with others. North America is dumbing (see the “b”) down the entire English language.

    • Nayeli -  April 16, 2014 - 7:02 pm

      The article itself goes through how English has changed radically throughout the centuries in order to even get to the “English” of the UK, and then you go and piss on the changes it has gone through in America? It seems the point has been missed.

      • Darren -  April 22, 2014 - 7:28 am

        He means that Americans are ruining a language that is not theirs. It is English NOT American.

        • Daniel -  May 29, 2014 - 3:11 pm

          Pshh, how does naming something for where it came from necessitate that it always belong to that place of origin?

        • Kasenjo -  June 1, 2014 - 2:44 pm

          Hi, linguist here.

          I am SO sick and tired of the myth that a language can belong to any one specific country/area.

          English was not created. It came from other languages. Modern English evolved from Middle English, Middle English from Old English. Old English from Proto-West-Germanic, which itself came from Proto-Germanic, and then THAT came from Proto-Indo-European, the mother of most- if not all- European languages today.

          So English doesn’t belong to England/UK. And now, it doesn’t belong to Europe at all anymore because of the Columbian Exchange – English was brought over to North America by yours truly, the English. They settled there and for a while, North America DID have official English settlements until the citizens rebelled. Still spoke English. Same with French in areas like Louisiana, Quebec, and Haiti. Spanish in North, Central, and South America. Native languages – Cherokee, Navajo, Hopi, Nahuatl, Quechua, etc – are little in numbers and many are dying out. English was also brought to Africa, as well as other languages, and to Australia. Do you suppose Australian English is also ruined English?

          And then there’s dialects. Have you ever heard the phrase “a language is a dialect with an army and navy”? It’s very accurate and explains why languages like Norwegian and Swedish are mutually intelligible (understood by each speaker) despite being classified different languages, and China is seen to only have one language – Chinese – despite dialects like Mandarin and Cantonese (two of the most popular dialects) not being mutually intelligible at all! In fact, dialects of Chinese have been likened to the Romance languages – these classified dialects (Mandarin, Cantonese, Min Nan, Hakka, etc) are as different as classified languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, etc).

          Languages naturally evolve, especially when they are a distance away / separated from another group of the same language. American English is a natural evolution of English, and it would be unusual had American English NOT changed from British English (which ITSELF has changed over the past centuries, and has multiple dialects within itself, just like American English).

          Prescriptivism is the belief that there’s any one wrong way to speak a language. Most linguists denounce it. Prescriptivism is fantasy and does not succeed in reality (you can have all the spelling reforms and committees and language rules you want, but if speakers start speaking differently – that’s it, game over). It’s not natural, so I suggest you take that stick out of your butt and deal with it, because it’s going to keep happening for the rest of human civilization.

          • Cheryl M -  June 3, 2014 - 7:05 pm

            Enjoyed reading your post, Kasenjo.
            Would like to mention, though, that it’s a feather, not a stick.
            Thanks. :-)

          • gzmask -  October 21, 2014 - 1:54 pm

            Actually only the speaking part of the Chinese dialects are different. The writing part of them is the same and they can communicate on text without any issue.

          • S P Chaudhari -  January 27, 2015 - 12:07 am

            Shri Kasenjo,, Very fine comment,Sir,,,But Do we want separate language such as Indian English,American English,Chinese English? certainly not.We are in favour of improving capability of English users to understand English better.This is main reason of not having poetry except US & UK.Our aim is only limited to let us talk & write English & write which is understandable to all & vice a verse…..by making simple arrangements/Amendments in English..Let UK/US initiative.After all they have to carry business with us to survive…Will it be any useful if we don’t understand them & vice averse…..

        • bringing-midnight -  March 31, 2015 - 4:02 pm

          Wow. Really?
          Portuguese is spoken in both Portugal and Brazil, and it’s spoken in different ways in both countries. No two Hispanic countries speak Spanish the same way. All countries develop their own unique way of speaking and spelling.

    • Madison -  May 28, 2014 - 5:47 pm

      The one thing that you have failed to state correctly is that blond and blonde are both correct terms.
      You see, the extra ‘e’ is used in many French words to describe a female, and without the ‘e’ is male terminology.
      This is commonly mistaken with fiancée and fiancé, so even if you claim that us North Americans are “dumbing the entire English language,” you’re being quite catastrophic with that statement.
      And just as a fun fact, Americans actually changed many words to detach itself completely after being freed from English rule. It’s a dialect issue with the z versus s, not a misspelling or “ripping apart” of the English language. As well as inquire versus enquire. Us Americans use those in different contexts, inquire being a more formal sense while enquire can be used in trade for “ask.”

      • Kyle -  May 30, 2014 - 12:04 pm

        Lisa’s just another Ignoramus (that means you’re ignorant, Lisa, which means you are lacking knowledge on the subject) who likes to shout on the internet.

        You can tell by such examples as the lack of proper punctuation, the listing of “centre” as an example of a word with an ‘s’ was changed to a ‘z’, non-capitalization of words at the beginning of sentences, the French root you pointed out yourself, and that ‘nite’ is a “cutesy” spelling that is used for advertisement purposes and not the common spelling, which is ‘night.’

        So study up and try re-reading the article, Lisa. Everyone deserves a second chance.

      • Alphonse -  May 31, 2014 - 9:32 am

        “Us Americans”? We seem to be “ripping apart” English grammar as well.

      • Cody -  June 1, 2014 - 1:37 pm

        Keep telling yourself Madison, if that makes you feel better. But you neglected arrogance (see further below) among many others. By the way, you’re incorrect in the statement of it not ripping apart or changing up the spelling of words (particularly the reason). The truth of the matter is Noah Webster made many of the changes (he also wanted, if I recall, women to be wimmen, for instance). I’d suggest you look him up on the BBC (and this very subject) but since you seem to think it is only to be different from the British (which is arrogance at best, i.e., the “We won and we’ll show you by changing what we took from you even if we would not know it without you!” mentality is a pathetic sign of a loser who thinks that just because the “losers” stopped persuing the issue somehow means we are better than them*) I’ll spare you the agony.

        *You know, England has other causes too. Maybe it isn’t America won (and don’t even get me started on the Natives … the only people who can truly be called Americans, but likely don’t even want that, world reputation and all. And that isn’t even considering what the US continues to do and did originally…. so disgusting it is…) but rather it is: they realised the cause is a stupid cause and why have more deaths? If they want to be “independent” then so be it – we’re tired of them anyway! You know, it takes a better person to go the more peaceful route. You can argue this issue either way but the bottom line is you cannot prove it one way or another (and neither can I). Even if the reason has been cited that isn’t to suggest there weren’t other reasons (nothing is THAT simple and especially conflicts! That is so basic psychology that a 13 year old brat could figure out if he/she thought about why they are fighting/whatever else, among their peers). Of course, I’ve already skipped over more minute details as even what I wrote is probably a futile effort (but I’m bored!). I imagine you stopped when I told you you were wrong about many of the spelling changes. If not: then good for you. If you made it this far I commend you on that. You’re still wrong though.

      • Donald B. Stinnette -  June 2, 2014 - 2:05 pm

        Umm, actually, that would be “we North Americans” and “we Americans,” not “us.”

    • Philip -  June 1, 2014 - 6:19 am

      Lisa, you say that ‘America has ripped apart the spelling of English’. This is absolute nonsense. The article above, ‘Enuf or Enough? Why Is English Spelling So Random?’, described how the language, without the strait-jacket of a governing academy, or even the interest of the courts and colleges for hundreds of years, has been left to develop in its own way.

      In the United States as well as Trinidad, Tobago, Jamaica, New Zealand and other former dependencies, this tendency has continued. On a demographic basis, the language would certainly not belong to the British, in any case. I suppose that that privilege would go to the Indians.

      Quick precis: The language is not fixed, and never has been. There are no rules, as such, only conventions. This is the main reason for its great wealth.

    • Cody -  June 1, 2014 - 1:17 pm

      Thank you Lisa. That was hilarious and I needed that laugh. And this is coming from someone who lives in the US. Indeed: humour, not humor. Colour, not color. Realise, not realize. There are so many differences because Americans obliterated the language. I don’t even call it English or Americanised (there goes the z versus s again) English but rather “American.” It just fits it better. After all, the only real reason for the changes is the typical reason of having to be different in every …. way. If that is not why then I question their supposed brilliance: what the … is the purpose of language if it is not to communicate (that means UNDERSTANDING others)? Your guess is as good as mine. I think one decent summary is this: near delusional grandiosity making them HAVE to be different to the rest of the world and unfortunately not in the right ways!

      Even though you’ll not bore them with more I will because I resent it so much (and these are some that have not grown on me as much because of being forced to learn American). You know what you all call ‘tire’ that goes on an automobile? Try tyre. You know the curb you have that automobiles might park next to? Try kerb (curb is *something else!*). It boggles the mind…

    • Kasenjo -  June 1, 2014 - 3:23 pm

      I can use Latin as well (actually, linguam latinam dicere possum). Quidquid Latine dictum sit, altum videtur. ;)

      Linguistic analyzation/analysation of your opinion:

      Dialects (what you’re complaining about – American vs British English to be specific) follow their own rules. American English obviously has different rules from British English, from grammar to spelling. Regional dialects within THESE dialects also have their own rules, like Black Vernacular English (BVE) – also known as Ebonics. These dialects are not incorrect or dumbed down versions of English. Look at Afrikaans! Look at how similar it is to English. It is a language – is it incorrect? (No, it’s not).

      It would be more unusual for American English to not have changed, given the multiple centuries spent separated by a freaking ocean and the different customs and cultures of each area.

      Also, fun fact – the “-our” ending (honour, labour, colour) comes from French whereas the “-or” comes from Latin.

      And yes, minor spelling changes like S-Z, ER-RE are indeed dumbing our language. (Cue eye roll.)

      Ah, blond / blonde comes from French which has gendered adjectives and nouns. Blond is for men and blonde for women. Fiancé for men, fiancée for women, et hoc genus omne.

      You have a prescriptivist POV on language. Prescriptivism is the belief that there’s any wrong way to speak a language. Most linguists denounce it, as they should, because it’s been essentially proven false again and again throughout history. The very fact that we speak Modern English and not Old English, or even Proto-Indo-European is proof.

      Summa summarum, linguistic evolution happens everyday and complaining about it won’t change anything, so get over it. Also, explaining common latin phrases as you did comes off quite arrogant, which is why I did the same so you would understand.


      • S P Chaudhari -  January 27, 2015 - 12:57 am

        Shri Kasenjo,,I am an Indian.Why we are are on blog?Certainly not for comparison between American English & Queen’s English..
        Americans got independence from English & they threw their language.Vietnam got from Chinese stronghold & threw their script out & accepted Latin.India got away from British & threw English out.In our case,government threw English out but Indian People did not.Hence English is co official language of India with Hindi.By the way,Hindi is not understood nor spoken in 65% of India.
        Hence we want to write ,speak English in such a way that every body shall understand it & vice a verse.
        so we propose to amend spelling laws to improve English so that all British commonwealth & dependencies may come in mainstream .We are not like Americans.They threw English out & Queen could not do anything.We want British to take lead as they are custodians of English.Let american rename their language as American.Do not bother as long as India is with UK,,We will still outnumber them.

    • Donald B. Stinnette -  June 2, 2014 - 2:11 pm

      Well, actually, Miss Lisa, nobody uses “nite” in place of “night” unless it’s something like a print ad or a quick note written to someone, where abbreviations or substitutions are allowed but known to be non-standard. “Nite” is not considered a drop-in replacement for “night” in anything other than a casual context.

    • Bill -  June 4, 2014 - 6:37 am

      The Americans intentionally, not accidentally, changed English spelling to be more logical (Read up about Webster’s Dictionary). This doesn’t seem like a dumbing down of the language to me. If anything, it is an attempt to improve it. I am not an American, by the way.

  37. LEX -  April 21, 2013 - 7:21 pm

    Here’s a link to an explanation of words spelled with the trigraph ‘ugh’ — it’s not at all random. In fact, the patterns that govern using ‘ugh’ are actually quite orderly and coherent, and I find them to be captivating:


    Also, here are a couple of short TED-Ed videos about why English spelling isn’t random, but makes perfect sense:




    I hope you enjoy them!

  38. Nekkocite aka Faith Kendall -  April 1, 2013 - 8:23 pm

    @Jessica: The english language is awful! It is too random, mix-macted, with rules that are either ill defined or to restrictive. Let not even mention who there are a few words that are just down right ugly and don’t do what they are trying to describe any justice.

    That said, I am all for reforming our language and possibly language in general…But we might not have to. It may already be happening as as we comment. They introduction of the internet and the information age as causing massive amounts of cultural exchange, albeit sometimes the context is lost or change (but no bother thats evolution) , that is causing the emergence of new ways of speaking and scribing.

    I, and not only I, have noticed that with txting and emoticons becoming more common place that english is developing into more of a hypermodern japonic language (as apposed to germanic) with increased use (and intuitive understanding that breaks conventional roles) of symbolism, complex noise mimicking, gesturing and regular use of metaphor and allusion to fill in for moments where we lack the proper terminology due to either ignorance, mental fogging, or cognitive rewiring (possibly a product of a chaotic and sophisticated consumer culture).

    It not difficult to foresee a decade soon where how we communicate has changed dramatically because of technology and social paradigm shifts. Imagine a complex mixture of kanji-esq + intuitive symbols and lettering (reminiscent of a video game HUD floating in augmented space) while we simultaneously use a mixture words, sound effects, text messages, photos, enhanced chemical and emotional signals thru BCI’s and highly expressive body language.

    My fav part about this evolution is that in a post-industrial and interconnected world saturated in information…if, and this is key, all of that info is managed properly and efficiently distributed to the public in real real-time…written and formal language almost becomes obsolete. What you are left with is a plethora of diverse dialects based of off location and sub-culture that are all easily and effectively inter-translatable, if not with the help of AI or Complex Computing, almost intuitively.

    • archangel -  May 28, 2014 - 11:04 pm

      Say what??!! Are you trying to be funny? In my father’s day, what you wrote would be called “doubletalk.” For the life of me, I can’t understand what you’ve written. Where do I begin? Poor punctuation, excessive use of parentheses, obscure, specialized “lingo” like the “video game HUD,” “mix-macted,” etc., all added up to my not being able to clearly understand what you have tried to say. Can you help me out here, Faith? Can you write it all again in a form of English a mere mortal like myself can easily understand? Or was it all a clever spoof on the problems of modern English that I just “don’t get?”

  39. sharmin -  July 25, 2012 - 1:49 am

    why is english spelling so random?

  40. Jerome Danh -  May 29, 2012 - 4:51 am

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  41. Chelsea Corker -  February 26, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.
    I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset cna be a taotl mses and yuo cna sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the hmuan mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

    • Syntax Syntaxous -  May 28, 2014 - 3:54 pm

      You are rghit, pleope can raed eryvetihgn, eevn wtih the wrods cahnegd.

    • Joe -  May 28, 2014 - 11:12 pm

      Insrtetenig, I’ve herad aubot tihs pnemehona, brofee, but awyals tughot taht eredbvoy culod raed it.

    • Jane -  January 21, 2015 - 11:36 am

      The study you’re mimicking showed that if the first and last letters were kept in place and the others mixed up, like “mxied,” most people would find it difficult to read. Whereas if the first two and last two are kept in place and the rest mixed up, like “shwoed,” it was much more readable.

      This has nothing to do with spelling. It has to do with the saccadic rhythm or saccadic masking, which describe how the eye processes whole words. It’s pretty interesting. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saccade

  42. What? -  February 19, 2012 - 4:08 pm

    I think Inglish shoud be chanjed. After oll, if it wuz cumpletely funetic, there woudn’t be so much confusion and peeple around the werld coud see the Inglish langwij az a simple and effectiv langwij. After reeding this comment, peeple are going to start bashing me about spelling. But do you see how funetic the werds are? Yoo probably see this az difficult to reed, but if yoo were raized on this type uv spelling, yoo’d see how much better off the werld woud be!

    • Marjan -  June 2, 2014 - 2:02 am

      Its true…you are right :)

    • Katie -  June 2, 2014 - 6:49 am

      Maybe, but because of the different dialects, we couldn’t just write the way we think it sounds. Other people make words sound differently naturally.

      For example I saw a sign that said, “Farwood for sale.” The seller just wrote down what “firewood” sounded like…to him.

      And even if two people share the same accent, they may still spell things differently.

      For example: BALLOON vs. BALOON.

  43. david -  January 3, 2012 - 7:56 am

    the weird spelling of english, its unphonetic nature, strange plurals, etc. makes it hard to learn. & a world language is really needed

    if english doesn’t become easier to learn, something else may one day overtake it as No 1 international language. perhaps a simplified english (enuf rather than enough) that comes from text messaging

    or perhaps digital devices will just become so popular that it doesn’t matter? (our babelfishes will have arrived)

    or maybe language education will just become incredibly good & efficient?

    either way, one language that all peoples can communicate in – & is easy to learn – is of such incalcuable value that language evolution won’t stop until we have it

    • Joe -  May 28, 2014 - 11:23 pm

      Remember why the different languages came about in the first place?
      In Genesis Chapter 11, all men spoke the same language and began to build a tower to reach to the heavens. God saw that when the people worked together they could be hindered in nothing that they wanted to do. His solution was to confound their language and scatter them over the face of the earth.

    • Kasenjo -  June 1, 2014 - 3:24 pm

      Look up Esperanto. Might be of interest to you.

  44. clive booth -  December 14, 2011 - 11:45 pm

    I have been investigating the relationships between letters in one-syllable words in English, Standard British English, for several years now, and I have discovered there are several basic spelling rules – not in the official texts – which everyone should and could know, especially those who are functional adult illiterates. However, those who should be interested in this discovery, the professionals, are not interested; because they think spelling in English is completely random and unscientific. I started with one experimental class but now I have seven groups of adults, often failures from straight courses, who have a great time learning English through these basic rules; some have visited England and spoken English with the natives!

  45. Christine -  November 19, 2011 - 5:44 pm

    It doesn’t matter what we think. The spelling of English words is being negotiated by the people who are using it to communicate with each other across cultures. This is how spell changes have come about and will continue to come about. Flow with it. You don’t need to regulate it. Printed dictionaries are snapshots, not rule books. Now with digital dictionaries the “print” snapshot can keep better pace with the usage.

  46. Steve -  October 22, 2011 - 5:46 am

    Experts have to make a totally new written English. The question ‘enuf or enough?’ is wrong. The correction is : ‘inaf / ináf or enough?’ or something else (one sound one letter)

  47. Lyle -  September 1, 2011 - 3:23 pm

    The thing that bothers me is that we’ve already worked out alternative spellings for all the words that make sense. But we only use them as pronunciation keys in the dictionary. If only we could start using those spellings elsewhere. I hate that in order to know for sure how to pronounce something I have to look it up in a dictionary first.

    • archangel -  May 28, 2014 - 11:11 pm

      Really? Where then on the keyboard should we put the “schwa” and “umla” letters?

      • Cody -  June 1, 2014 - 1:56 pm

        Not used a computer for very long have you? I already know the answer to that, of course. Maybe you should look in to the different layouts (e.g., QWERTY versus DVORAK), US keyboards versus other country’s keyboards and that isn’t even considering locale… It also is ignoring the simple fact that most modern operating systems (and that includes more recent versions of the those that predates Windows, by the way) have a virtual keyboard and different character sets that you can (for example) place in a document (and even show you how to type it in your environment). In short: it isn’t difficult (already possible, already done, blah blah). What, you think the ugly obnoxious Windows key always existed? And the same with all those ugly, way too many multimedia keys always existed? I admit that is a hilarious joke but no – it wasn’t always the common way (I don’t even own any keyboards with that junk – I use an older more durable type of keyboard, specifically buckling spring like the old IBM Model-M used).

  48. cat -  June 6, 2011 - 5:58 pm

    You know, changing how we spell words isn’t actually going to fix literacy. Instead, the older generations will have to relearn how to read their mother tongue, future generations will have no idea how to read old classics written in standard English, much less Shakespearean or medieval English, and the current generation will /still/ have to learn how to spell consistently.

  49. Katey -  June 2, 2011 - 2:51 pm

    As a linguist who has been trained to create consistent and easily learned orthographies for unwritten languages, English orthography drives me crazy. Especially when trying to teach young children how to spell–if only we were working with an accurate orthography, it wouldn’t be such an agonizing process. The English language wouldn’t be terribly complicated (though it does contain a few unusual phonetic sounds, globally speaking, and the sentence structure is odd) if it only had a good orthography.

    Realistically, though? It is far, far too late. English has been written for too long, and has spread too far, to change the orthography now. All we can do is live with it. (And, for the linguists among us, grit our teeth in frustration while watching our children struggle with spellings that should be easy.)

  50. valerie yule -  February 17, 2011 - 11:22 pm

    There are two contradictory aims in seeking to control spoken or written English.

    1. To promote communication, by weeding out what prevents it.
    2. To make English language a totem, preserved in all its errors as well as its glories. This is the aim of the pedants.

    If we keep these two aims distinguished, we can assess critics.

    Radical changes have been put forward for spelling, but in fact it is only the unnecessarily difficult traps in spelling that need alteration.
    Half the population reads badly if at all, and few can spell well.

    By changing 2.6% of letters and omitting up to 6% of surplus letters in wurds in everyday text, we could make our spelling acsessibl to almost everyone.
    Present methods of teaching reading ar all inadequat, becaus of these unnecessary difficulties. Try this:
    1. Dictionary pronunciation gide as beginners spelling. (Modified BBC Text Pronunciation Gide?)
    2. Then 35 common irregular wurds lernd by rote becaus they make up 12% of everyday text – all almost always among as come some could should would half know of off one only once other pull push put they their two as was what want who why, and word-endings -ion/-tion/-sion/zion.
    3. Add grammar ( for plurals and tenses, for participls), consistent spelling for final vowels’, and allow ‘silent e’ tactic for long vowels = spelling for riting
    4. Add up to 4 vairiants for 9 vowels and 4 consonants = spelling for reading. 149 more unfamiliar spelling patterns can be omitted.
    5. Present spelling can also now be acsessd.

    Users of present spelling can optionally:
    1. Cut surplus letters from wurds. They caus most of the problem in ‘spelling demons’. They ar gradually dropping out but not sufficiently fast. – oeconomic becomes economic, and programme becomes program – http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/spelling.htm#word

    2. Change tricky vowels and consonants

    Experiment to find out what difference this makes. Even experimental text on puzzl pages of newspapers is a possibility.

    Arguing without experiment is futile.


  51. ron -  February 12, 2011 - 8:54 pm

    ” Both pronunciation and spelling should be regarded as subject to personal preference and taught that way in schools. ”

    if spelling is a matter of personal preference it cannot be taught in schools.

  52. Jeff -  February 11, 2011 - 7:09 pm


    Lol!!! Your irony is absolutely hilarious.

    Those who think proper English spelling truely shows intelligence are perhaps almost as misguided as you describe.

    Current English spelling is not worth mastering.

  53. NJH -  February 10, 2011 - 3:47 pm

    Enough has an “ou,” is that as in “soup”, or “sound” or “touch” or “your” or “cough”?

    Enuf of enough.

  54. Bigot -  February 10, 2011 - 1:54 pm

    I think we should make English spellings much, much, harder so as to keep the great mass of the unwashed, ignorant, working-class louts out. The archaic spelling system should be made more archaic – by design – to enforce the class system; thus only people of good families, who have been to extremely expensive schools, would be able to acquire literacy and so succeed in the professions and in life. Discriminating against the yobs and foreigners is the greatest feature of our dear spelling system and we should encourage this.
    Besides it is a fetish of mine: if you simplify the spellings, it will be the end of civilization, you will give me an apoplectic fit and the sky will fall in.

  55. NJH -  February 10, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    Just a few of the cognitive dissonances setting our children (and us) up to fail:
    Cabin – cabbage; rabbit – habit, horrid – florid, very – berry, closet – closed, body – muddy, arrive – arise, river – rival. Anger – danger – hanger. Until – till, spell – dispel. A promise – to promise, a service – to service, a license – to license, a practice – to practise (UK spelling).
    Bee, beach, cede, deceit, machine, field, quay, key, ski, city, etc.
    Cloud, touch, group, your, brought. Leaf – bread. Boot – foot. Crow – cow.
    Hot – other – both. Home – come – some – money – done – love.

    Literacy rates in the English speaking world are dire and complexity of the spelling system is one of the chief culprits.
    English spelling is not the same thing as the English language, they are two completely different things – one could respell many of the words above and it would not change the language. Expecting complete phonicity may not be realistic but arguing for greater rule-orderliness in English spelling is. Finally, changing English spellings is entirely consonant with its history.

  56. chris -  February 4, 2011 - 6:43 am

    Foreigners have trouble with the accent and therefore spelling because English is not a phonetic language! We have no accents on words we pronounce, Th is pronounced in two different ways (the and think) we have twelve different sounds we make with our voices for A,E,I,O,U. (don’t just pronounce them put them into their context) 5 characters for 12 sounds odd to me. Then we have the combinations of those vowels (which produce 8 other sounds known as Diphthongs) you may find the romance languages more or less easy when it comes to spelling and reading because most of the sounds are the equivalent of what’s written (hence being phonetic languages). Speaking from my perspective of having lived in Italy for the past 5 years, I know how to read and write and spell but I didn’t have to study how to spell as I did in my mother tongue (English)! If I know the correct pronunciation I can spell the word, it all goes down the pan when I pronounce words incorrectly!

  57. Perplexed -  February 3, 2011 - 5:55 pm

    I have heard that learning English is harder than any other language. I don’t know if this is true or not. However, English is my primary language. I know a few words in Spanish, but I have noticed that if I am given a letter written in Spanish or French, I can get the gist of it simply because the spelling is similar to the English word. I know this is because our language is based on Latin and German. So why is so difficult to learn English?

    • Kasenjo -  June 1, 2014 - 3:32 pm

      There is an inconsistent spelling system in English (dough and cough are pronounced differently despite being one letter different). The grammar is hard and inconsistent. There are many irregularities (I before E except after C, and except after this list of exceptions that’s longer than the list that follows the rule). We have many idiomatic expressions that don’t make sense (it’s raining cats and dogs); and there are so many regional / dialectal differences due to the popular American / British English dialects; and the different accents in America (compare NYC with Houston), UK (Queen’s English vs Cockney), Australia, New Zealand, India, Africa, etc etc.

      It’s just a mess, basically.

      • bringing-midnight -  March 31, 2015 - 4:13 pm

        Plenty of languages have odd rules and strange expressions. Take French numbers:
        1- Un
        11- Dix et un (ten and one)
        12- douze
        80- Quatre-vingts (four twenties)
        97- Quatre-vingts dix-sept (four twenties ten and seven)
        This is also a gendered language (words are male or female) but there is NO CONSISTENT RULE FOR THE GENDERS. If the word ends in “o”, it’s probably male, but no guarantee! If it ends in “a”, it might be female. “E”, “U”, “I”? Good luck, you’ll need it. “This” changes depending on the gender of the object you’re referencing.
        It’s not just an English problem! All languages have inconsistencies, odd expressions, and bad rules.

  58. Jeff -  February 3, 2011 - 11:07 am

    @ chris
    That´s not a bad idea.

    Whatever spelling system we choose, we can overcome the differences in the pronunciation in different dialects and still be completely phonetic. The Spanish-speaking countries have been doing this all along. In their case, the pronunciational differences are not in a particular word itself, but in the letter or rule of pronunciation. For example, “z” is always pronounced similar to a “th” sound in Spain. Elsewhere it´s always pronounced like an “s”. There are absolutely no exceptions.

    In our case, we could set down the rule to always write one vowel to indicate its soft sound and always double it to indicate its hard sound. For example, privacy would be spelled “priivisee”. Now those who pronounce privacy with a soft “i”, can spell it “privisee,” and both can be considered official (just like color and colour uselessly are).

    This would allow a person´s writing to reflect their dialect, their accent, and the country they´re from! To me, that´s much more practical, scholarly, and personalized than just being able to see the etymology in a word. Really, most normal people don´t care about the etymology of every word they read and write.

  59. chris -  February 3, 2011 - 5:09 am

    Why would there be a disagreement on how things are pronounced when we already have letters for IPA and Americanist phonetic notation? /dʒəst θɪŋk əbawt ɪt! wʊdənt ɪt bi iziər?/ But not only the English language, in all languages, if I could read Chinese using phonetics I would learn how to write and speak simultaneously, as I would only have to learn the phonetic symbols (sounds) which weren’t present in English, I wouldn’t have to spend hours and hours trying to understand how to write in Arabic or Japanese ideograms. Foreigners would be able to speak English using perfect diction; therefore we wouldn’t have problems with strange accents coming through. This would probably lead to an evolution whereby one language is created using a mixture of all predominant languages with one accent. It would also eliminate prejudice as there would be no linguistic distinction from one person or another; only your vocabulary would distinguish you as an intellect.

  60. Molly -  February 2, 2011 - 5:50 pm

    If we standardized spelling phonetically, there are a couple of things that would prove to be problematic, first (mentioned above) that there would be disagreement on how things are pronounced and which letters to use; the other would be that etymology would be impossible to trace. While standardization is more efficient in the long run, what are the real benefits, that more people can read or spell? I think that there will always be people who cannot read or spell, due to things like dialects or differences in pronunciation. Other words that are spelled differently, even though they are pronounced the same would have no differentiation, and honestly, I can’t even see it happening.

  61. animal crazy girl -  February 2, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    i was reading the comments here, and i saw jeffs comment. he has a verry good point! it makes it hard for people that need to learn this language. like immagrants; if they need a job they will have to speak english. but the way we spell words make it hard to learn it!

  62. lilly -  February 2, 2011 - 12:13 pm

    they got a point! i hate all these silent letters and stuff! who invented them anyway! its dumb! its taking a lot of extra time in school that kids could be using to do important stuff! like…. computer time! l0:

  63. Megan -  February 2, 2011 - 10:39 am

    Matthew Hayes is funny! He wants to stick to the norm of current spelling trends in English, but CAN’T SPELL!! (e.g. – tendancy, imphasis) HA!

  64. Brian -  February 2, 2011 - 10:05 am

    @ Annoy: “Yawn………Well, this is just a waste of web space on this article. Watching paint dry is more fun then this was……Good sleeping pill if you need to fall asleep….fast lol ”

    Sorry this was a debate that affects much of the world and not simply YouTube videos of monster trucks or ultimate fighting. Having to use your brain just sucks, doesn’t it?

  65. Brainstorm -  February 2, 2011 - 10:04 am

    How could you fix/base the reform of any language on ‘fonetics’ when dialects differ from one river bank to the other? which “fanatics” to choose? midwest, northern, californian? and if evry1 rites ze wey zey speek, comunicashion wil becam difiquilt.

  66. Zippi -  February 2, 2011 - 9:27 am

    Wonders? Oh, boy! Wondered!
    My poor brain!

  67. Zippi -  February 2, 2011 - 9:23 am

    I should have said, have you never wonders why Christopher and Christmas both have a different pronunciation of “Christ?”

    • bringing-midnight -  March 31, 2015 - 4:15 pm

      Because one is “t” before a VOWEL and one is a “t” before a CONSONANT.

  68. Zippi -  February 2, 2011 - 9:20 am

    When we say”fix” do we mean keep in one place, or do we mean mend? Is English broken and therefore, in need of fixing? Have we forgotten that spellings have changed in the past? “Sh,” as in “shell,” was represented by a now obsolete character. “Th” represents two obsolete characters; thorn and eth. “U” and “V” were once two different ways of representing the same sound, which was, originally, represented by “Y.” “Ch,” as in “chop” was represented by “C,” which also made the same sound as “K” from Greek words, such as “kilo,” which is why we have “C,” “K” AND “S.” “I” and “J” were also two ways of representing the same sound. There were two different “Ss.” “X” now represents “KS” instead of the guttural sound, more commonly associated with the Celtic nations, Scousers and Arabic speakers.
    Vowel sounds have changed; have you never wonders why Christopher and Christmas both have different pronunciations of “Christ,” the base word in both cases? The pronunciation of the “I” was changed. “O” in “proper” is different from the “O” in “rope” despite the fact that “rope” exists within “proper.” Why does “me” sound like “mi?” Why does “my” sound like “mai;” “May” like”mei;” “OW” like “AU;” “AU” like “OU” or “OO; ” “OO” like “U” and “Fir,” “fur” and “fer[n]” sound the same? Why does “love,” not rhyme with “cove” and why, do some lines in hymns not rhyme, when the words at the end of the lines are spelt similarly? Why are some “ED” ends of words pronounced (for example, beloved, crooked) and some are not (loved, served). We know that the “ed” used (another example) to be pronounced; examples can be found in the works of William Shakespeare and Handel’s “Messiah;” “he shall be call-ed wonderful…” Why the silent “t” in castle; the silent “K” (originally “C”) in knight, the silent “B” in “lamb” and “comb”? They were said once. Words like “what,” “where,” “why” and “when” have been respelt and the “Hs” are, for the most part, no longer pronounced yet, “who” has a silent “w” and sounds like “hu.” I could go on and I have!
    There are so many influences on English, not to mention the borrowed words. Would we respell those, too? English is an historical map of the movement of peoples, each putting its stamp onto a Celtic template. To study English is to study history. Remember, also, that there is Standard Modern English (often referred to as British English) and American Standard English, each with its own way of spelling the same words. In addition, there are other, British, forms of English, each with different words and spellings; would those also have to be respelt?

  69. Larry -  February 2, 2011 - 8:56 am

    I think we shud strt this prosess rite after we convert to the metric system. Then we can be stndrd in all areas of r livs. But we will hav to mak the speling of nams be the sam also, to many ways of speling Brittany/ie/e.

  70. Fearless Frank -  February 2, 2011 - 8:27 am

    English words all have a pedigree, their spellings denote from whence they came and indicate the multilingual richness of our diverse heritage. To do away with proper spellings is to throw away our vast heritage and leave ourselves rootless and deny the many people-groups that have made the contributions which collectively make English the largest and most dynamic language in the world. Lazy and thoughtless people want to dumb down spelling by rejecting the diversity of our linguistic heritage.

  71. jenny -  February 2, 2011 - 8:21 am

    Matthew Hayes,

    you spelled tendency wrong. you put “tendancy”. lmao

    thats what makes english english, so whatever.

  72. Sir Mike Tallon, PhD -  February 2, 2011 - 6:51 am

    First of all, this was one of the best posts you’ve ever had, and no, we should not touch the spelling. It’s like rearranging the Zodiac or declaring that Pluto’s not a planet–no one is going to go along with it. Above that, this is a great example of WHY English is so prevalent in communication, because it’s not just the evolution of one language, but rather, the amalgamation of many popular languages over time. Being an English linguists really helps you understand a lot about other languages, and history.

  73. K Kay -  February 2, 2011 - 6:25 am

    Why don’t we just spell everything the way WE want to. As long as whatever you’re spelling is similar to everyone elses’ we should all understand

  74. Jeff -  February 2, 2011 - 6:22 am

    Current English spelling is a disgrace to the language. This makes it horrendous for everyone else in the world trying to learn a language they badly need. I feel that those who do not support English spelling reform have a limited mindset and worldview; they do not know what it is like for people who live in other countries. I also believe that they forget what it was like when they were in elementary school. We had lists of words to memorize for the exams! That time and effort could be used for more creative and productive work!!

    Most people don´t usually care about the etymology of a word, but keep a dictionary with current spelling JUST as an etymological reference anyway if you want.

    I don´t care what spelling rules are set down, just as long as they are ALWAYS followed. Currently there are no rules, just tendencies.

    • Elhana Starwind -  December 30, 2015 - 6:57 am

      Actually the current English spelling is making it easier for everyone in the world. In English, the words and roots are spelled uniformly, so you can see their transparent etymology and morpheme structure. video, visus -> VIS-ion, VIS-ible. It is vis-, not vizh- and viz-. do > do-es, not du- and -z.
      You are clearly have no experience with foreign languages yourself.

  75. Teresa VivoAmore -  February 2, 2011 - 3:41 am

    P.S. . . . .I have a couple of misspelled words in there — I just want to see if anyone is paying attention. :-)

  76. Teresa VivoAmore -  February 2, 2011 - 3:19 am

    I am thrilled to see that most people commenting here are in support of NOT changing the English language. Admittedly, it is a complex language. But to cower to the lazy and change it, will merely perpetuate the problems of our failing educational system. That said, it is evident from several of the comments here, our educational system is not failing everyone —which is good news. (And comments made about the mis-spellings contained herein are more likely due to a lack of proficiency in typing, not spelling.)

    “Text speak” is completely acceptable for texting. And in certain casual communications, among friends, it may also be quite acceptable. “Text speak” evolved at least initially due to costs associated with texting. “Text speak” is not dis-similar to Gregg Shorthand which has become all but obsolete. One day, when the technology that created it, evolves yet again, I suspect that “text speak” will become obsolete as well.

    I am from New England and currently living near a military base in the south. For anyone who may not have ventured far, please allow me to be so bold and say that we Americans truly do have several dialects, a.k.a. regional accents and idioms. I had the occasion to be in a conversation with a man from Virginia who had a strong southern drawl. I am often told that I don’t exhibit much of an accent, being from the north. But my speech is more even paced and does speed up if I am excited about something. This particular conversation also included a man from Uruguay, who’s spoken English was somewhat broken, yet his comprehension appeared to be quite good. At one point, the Virginian said the word “tile” and I had to stop and ask him to repeat it–several times. It was coming out sounding like “towel” to me. We all laughed about the misunderstanding. But I turned to the Uruguayan and asked him if he could understand both of us or if he could hear the difference in our English. His response was that the only difference to him was that I spoke fast and the Virginian spoke slow. This made me smile.

    The point being, if you are educated about the language, enunciate your words, and aren’t afraid to use a dictionary, you are more likely to be understood and to be able to understand other people speaking English. Yes, this takes some effort. But what is the alternative? Digressing to grunting and pointing??

    Back in the day when the majority of immigrants to this country came through at Ellis Island, there were huge campaigns with posters that read “Be proud of your country — learn the language”. The first generation of any immigrant family may never perfect the language as it is more challenging to learn a language as an adult. However, most immigrant families are proud to be here in this wonderful country of ours and do strongly support their children learning English. They are also often adamant about their children learning the language of their heritage. Admittedly, this is due in part to the convenience it affords the parents with the children’s ability to translate. But most immigrants also do not want their children to lose their sense of identity, their connection to their roots.

    Many of us who have been in this great country for several generations now have forgotten our own heritage. Which is what? German, Latin, French, Greek like many of the origins of the words in the English language? We could stand to take a lesson from the more recent immigrants to America. Know our heritage, which includes the language. Do not change it to appease the insecure or lazy individuals among us. Raise the bar!

    Fail kids if they do not earn the grade. They need to know what the consequences are for their actions. It is better to learn these lessons as children than as adults. As adults, we tend to be resentful of a system and society that did not better prepare us for the real world, hence all the victim mentality. Hence, our litigious society. Hence, the lack of accountability. The “No child left behind” initiative has succeeded in three arenas:
    1) making the schools’ and teachers’ success statistics falsly look good
    2) fostering a severe lack of self esteem in those kids who we lower the standards for. Which is often the very thing that was trying to be avoided. Ironically, by lowering the standards, it sends the message to kids that we do not have the faith in them, that we lack confidence in their abilities.
    3) fostering a sense of injustice in those kids who do well. Where is their reward for their efforts? If the uninitiated, are going to be passed, why should they bother earning it?

    Time for me to get off my soap box and get to work. But allow me to say this: My English is certainly not perfect. I have a tendancy to use run-on sentences, dangling participles, and too many transitional phrases. My apologies if I missed any in this writing. But I try. :-) And isn’t that half the battle?

    I will end with one of my favorite quotes:
    “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill

    . . . . . and my plea. . . . leave the English language the way it is!

  77. Cliff -  February 2, 2011 - 3:15 am

    If we make the spelling of English too logical, we would have to do away with the American institution of spelling bees! Reason enough not to reform English!

    I second a previous comment that In Spanish, if you know how to pronounce a word, you should know how to spell it. However, grammar is not as logical or easy.

    Expanded use of computers with spellcheck makes it less important to change the way words are spelled.

    Finally, it is interesting to see how many misspellings there are in the comments of those opposed to any changes in spelling of words.

  78. chris -  February 2, 2011 - 1:51 am

    ɪf wi wər tu ɒl jus ðə ɪntərnæʃənəl fənɛtɪk ælfəbɛt ðɛn spɛlɪŋ wʊdənt mek ə dɪfərəns, ɪt wʊd ɒlso hɛlp wɪθ ðoz lərnɪŋ ɪŋglɪʃ tu, æz ðe wʊd no haw tu prənawns wərdz kərɛktli.

  79. Mahesh Chauhan -  February 2, 2011 - 1:04 am

    Yes, it’s necessary.
    Necessary to change the spellings or their pronunciation as per basic rules( Rules must be made before changing) or as per modern requirement. But the task needs full concentration because the spellings must be changed scientifically as they may not harm another words or may not cause negative or opposite effect.

  80. deepmala -  February 1, 2011 - 10:46 pm

    let it be the way it is it will always remain my first language any way…..I simply Love it the way it is

  81. Eric -  February 1, 2011 - 10:09 pm

    I think inglish shood be left alown to. i meen, if inglish wuz to bee chanjed, then that wood creeate to much werk. its allredee complicaytid enuf to learn.

  82. Brooke -  February 1, 2011 - 10:03 pm

    I used to teach English to Japanese students for a while… never again. Trying to explain the rules of English spelling should be left to the professionals. Unfortunately, most English teachers here in Japan are like I was; untrained and not fit to be teaching. The biggest problem I noticed was when students would tell me they had learned a word was spelled one way (colour) and I was teaching them an incorrect spelling (color). I think for students in foreign countries there should be a standard English used for teaching. Here in Japan most foreigners speak English as their second-language, and usually it is based on British English, and they often have trouble speaking to me with my American English because I say “trash can” instead of “dust bin” and so on. Because English is such a powerhouse language right now, it would be nice if there was something set up for those learning the language as a second language.

    Personally, I love the differences, but watching a student who had previously had teachers from New Zealand and Scotland try to work with an American teacher really sold me on having a standardized form of English.

  83. keya -  February 1, 2011 - 9:43 pm

    Interesting article. English spellings really need some fixing work!!

  84. Paula G -  February 1, 2011 - 9:15 pm

    I find it incredible that even though English is the most spoken language, it is a language that is the most misspelled. Even though one might not understand the way a word is written or dislike that there are no rules to it, it is the way we have been writing for years. It is more complex than some languages but is that really a reason to change the way we write?

  85. Mrs. D -  February 1, 2011 - 8:48 pm

    Langauge is living, breathing, adapting to its climate. There is no need to reform. Just as Smith’s invisible hand regulates markets, that same hand is noticed in the changes each cultural exchange, each improvement in technology, each new hybridization of interaction brings. There is a need for a standardization only as a signpost of the times, not as a controling factor. Look to the very shifts noted in the article –> who was in power in court dictated the dominant language. The invention of the printing press produced alternate spellings, like shoppe, for the need to fill space at the end of the canoe. Cultures influencing vowel pronounciation to the exent of the Great Vowel Shift.

    In reforming English one would do the very controlling action that he was acting against! standards!

  86. Rachel -  February 1, 2011 - 8:05 pm

    What does the article mean by English is the most widely-spoken language in the world? If it means that more people speak in abroad rather than in its native country then maybe, but Mandarin has the most numbers, more than half of what English has.

  87. albahaydee -  February 1, 2011 - 7:52 pm

    What is the difference between [than and then]? Them are people or things. I am taller than Ana. If I go to church with you then I should enter first. Is that right?

  88. Rachel -  February 1, 2011 - 7:34 pm

    I personally think that English should left alone. Why get into the trouble of changing the entire language?

  89. Casey W. -  February 1, 2011 - 7:29 pm

    The English language should be left as it is. There is no reason to condescend and make the spelling of words easier for our youth to learn. More perplexing letter patterns evokes higher thought process and calls for more practice of spelling. Such complicated letter patters can only augment intelligence not diminish it. It is true English is a complicated language with senseless rules and spelling, but this only makes it more flexible; those who can properly use English can express themselves more thoroughly than those who can hardly speak properly. This goes to show that English is for the more intelligent language and when used correctly it becomes an art.

  90. Jewel -  February 1, 2011 - 6:55 pm

    I beleive that english is a language that is tough to learn. Leave it the way it is because the complexity of the language singles out that only the intellectual can comprehend completely.
    Bottom line, you have to be smart to get it; don’t change that.

  91. urmother -  February 1, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    Hella no! It would just be another example of how lazy society is and making life to accomodate their laziness!

  92. Jacopo -  February 1, 2011 - 6:28 pm

    Learning another language helps me realize how lucky I am to have English as my mother language. There are so many inconsistencies to drive one insane! But I still think that it is worth keeping around as is, if not for the mere fact that I can brag that I know how to speak it.

  93. Demosthenes -  February 1, 2011 - 6:10 pm

    Texting (and the next few generations of tech-nu-speak) will change everything from spelling to grammar to syntax.

  94. Jac Ben -  February 1, 2011 - 6:00 pm

    I just got one of those silly emails through but thought this was funny enough to share….

    “The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

    As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as “Euro-English”.

    In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”.. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of “k”. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

    There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”.. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

    In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

    Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

    Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent “e” in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

    By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”.

    During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou” and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

    Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

    Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas”.

  95. Kat -  February 1, 2011 - 5:58 pm

    Why change something so fundamental that has never posed a significant problem? I’m nineteen, and I can tell you if my generation is full of bad spellers it’s not due to the discrepancies between spoken and written word. Other languages have this “problem”, too. French, for example, though not to the same extent. The reason we have a regimented orthography is so that people of all regions can read the same words and understand, no matter what accent they read it in. Writing is a part of our language, as is speaking, yet no one would suggest we all conform to one accent (because it’d be a total fail, and would be moot in a few generations anyway because language EVOLVES!).

  96. I aM dOiNg HoMeWoRk -  February 1, 2011 - 5:35 pm

    i do not think that English should be fixed because if it is fixed, it will be like learning English ALL OVER AGAIN! And who wants that? :-/ :-?

    if it is, i will be sad … =T.T= :(

  97. Pirschjaeger -  February 1, 2011 - 4:58 pm

    Language lives and evolves and no language is as diverse, accurate, and alive as English. It is, in all probability, the most unique in a world of some 5000 languages.

    The problem isn’t English spelling but rather inadequate and equally lazy education/educators. I’m an ESL teacher living and working in China. I tell my students to drop the use of IPA and learn to spell and read correctly. Within two weeks most students can easily decipher the English nuances of spelling and pronunciation.

    Leave English alone and let it live.

  98. ag -  February 1, 2011 - 4:43 pm

    So in any case, I agree to both of you. I really can’t say I can write with a 100% accuracy but what the heck tha’s the reason why i love foreign language studies =) it’s giving me the challenge i need.

    So if english would evolve and correct its irregularities then so be it. that will be fine. but just a few reminders i think it would be better to know/master the original spelling of each words before changing it.

    know the basics if i may say. where it all begins, the basics…=)

  99. martin -  February 1, 2011 - 4:43 pm


    i don’t know, changing a language after centuries of it’s use will be hard.
    Nobody will know whats what

  100. roman -  February 1, 2011 - 4:29 pm



  101. Jose -  February 1, 2011 - 4:22 pm

    when the language needs to change, it is going to change

  102. ag -  February 1, 2011 - 4:21 pm


    I think you just agreed with Ban..

    Both of you had raised good points. Its just really hard to accept that majority of the students in the USA are really guilty of Ban’s charges. If his data doesn’t include you then why argue? It’s the educational system itself needs reformation. proper langauge/pronunciation/enunciation if taught well will not result to these kinds of mess. Combined with family upbringing.

    flunking a non qualified student will not harm him psychologically. It will potentailly disgrace him in the future if he finds out that he survive that stage of life because some bubblehead said “its not good to give him an “F” so lets just give him an “A”..

    results after 10 years… the kid dropped out of school, dealing drugs, shooting people, bum, doesnt know how to speak proper english and a parasite to the country..

    that’s the harsh reality.

    I’m 30 and i play MMO and my job is to speak with foreigners mostly americans and noticed a big difference aside from the accent, young american people can no longer differentiate verb tenses. Unlike amricans on their late 20′s,early 30′s and above they can converse real good, they can talk/speak proper english.
    And also based on my observation most of the kids from the US can no longer compose grammatically correct english. I can even say that Indians speaks Grammatically correct english(aside from the accent… sorry guys that’s the truth.)

  103. Jacey -  February 1, 2011 - 4:17 pm

    No,I don’t think we should.
    Most people commenting are only saying to not change it because they grew up using it.And they are more used to it.
    It would improve the next genaritions knowledge,since they won’t be saying.. “Enug.” Instead of “Enuf.”
    Still though.I think we should leave it the way it is.

  104. X -  February 1, 2011 - 3:48 pm

    I’d rather not have it changed. I also don’t understand it when native speakers of English say they have trouble reading words. Is it really that frustrating? I find it simple. Sure it is a bit irritating when I pronounce a word the wrong way but not so much that I wish the language itself would change. What would be the point of learning a language if it changed to benefit you? I find learning Spanish difficult even with its set of rules. But that doesn’t mean I want the language to change so that it’s easier for me. I’m learning Spanish because I want to. I want to be proud of myself for struggling through the process of learning a new language. I want to be proud of myself when I can finally have a conversation with a Spanish speaking person. I’m sure it’s the same for anyone learning a new language. The struggle of learning a new language then finally being able to speak said language is extremely fulfilling. Besides, no one said learning a second language would be easy.

    On another note, though I did say learning Spanish was difficult for me it was slightly easier when I found that a lot of words in English are spelled similarly in Spanish. The words usually mean the same things it’s just that the pronunciation is different. Changing the spelling of English words would make it a bit more difficult for me to learn Spanish. I’m just saying…

  105. ElectroStatic -  February 1, 2011 - 3:43 pm

    I think that English should NOT be changed. I speak/read/write both English and Hungarian (Hungarian being spelt the way it sounds, as with several languages) and I infinitely prefer English. There is a certain charm to the strange spelling of certain words, and, although this may seem sad to many of teenagers my age, there is a feeling of accomplishment in knowing the idiosyncrasies of the English language and being able to display that knowledge through writing. I don’t find any of that charm and sense of accomplishment in Hungarian.

    However, it may simply be me with this opinion. Reading has always come easily to me because I started learning my alphabet at the age of two and was able to read short – but picture-free – books by four (both English and Hungarian).

  106. Rockport268 -  February 1, 2011 - 3:33 pm

    Definitely not. If we were to change the entire English language, all books that were written prior to the ‘reform’ would be impossible to read for future generations. Just think about how much harder Shakespeare would be if just about every single word in the English language was spelled differently.

  107. matt -  February 1, 2011 - 3:22 pm

    umm… this is confusing (cunfeeoozing)

  108. matt -  February 1, 2011 - 3:21 pm

    wait, wait, no

  109. matt -  February 1, 2011 - 3:21 pm

    actually, yes

  110. matt -  February 1, 2011 - 3:20 pm


  111. pinkkittygirl98 -  February 1, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    I know that most people are not willing to listen to a person that has such a ridiculous name, or someone half their age, nor read an excrutiatingly long message. So I will make this quick. English should be changed, because although it may take some getting used to, but we would spend less time trying to decode our own language and more learning essential skills we lack, such as in mathematics.

  112. Jeremy -  February 1, 2011 - 1:46 pm

    //Uh-oh! I made a couple mistakes! I better fix them before I’m marked as a barbaric American high school student!
    @Ban (AKA the obviously elitist troll)
    Dear Ban,
    I regret to inform you that this article is not about America, but the English language. I agree that the idea of “fixing” English is preposterous, and people should learn how to spell rather than make it easier. On a different note, I can make you a personal promise on my name that the average American high school student can reader better than most 8-10 year-olds in most places. This is of course where I live, Texas…the land portrayed as “cowboy world.” Perhaps it is your intellectual-elitist attitude(which is so blatantly obvious) that causes you to feel the need to write an essay about how stupid America is, but it would be much appreciated if next time you could cite a couple non-biased facts.
    with hope for your edification,
    Jeremy, 16-Texas
    p.s.- A refusal to argue is not an admittance of defeat, rather a separation of the self from unnecessary quarreling.

  113. JW -  February 1, 2011 - 1:44 pm

    No! Why would we change a WHOLE LANGUAGE? For people to be more lazy? And it would be an annoying job to do whats next changing our vocabulary so we don’t need full sentences? Also our language is old and would take years to change all words so that it’s like: enuff, wud, krapes, etc. it would take forever, be a waste of time, be a waste of resources, AND would be changing lets see… more than 50,000 words? Whats the point of doing it? Lets just stick with how it is now.

  114. agkcrbs -  February 1, 2011 - 1:41 pm

    Spelling is the bones of a language. It’s not so much that we spell things wrong; the words are fine as they are. It’s all the verbal flab we hang on them. Spoken English is re-invented every generation, and it’s only spelling that keeps the us from flying into a million dialects.

    If we did want to make spelling and sound meet, it would be much less problematic to gradually shift back our pronunciation to fit the original spelling. We already have a mental itch with words that don’t spell as they sound, and it’s easier than you expect to bend yourself back to the orthography. Try it for a few days. Say no to “silent letters”. Start small… Say walk as “wall-k”, and aspirate your w in “white”. Return the back fricative to “night” and the stop to “nation”. Eventually, try to actually pronounce the vowels in words instead of fudging them into “standard” English. It will grow on you.

  115. TAM -  February 1, 2011 - 1:38 pm

    Well I’m a teenager and I think the language is fine the way it is and will be as it moves along. As long as everyone is understood the way they intend to be, which is the purpose of words in the first place, then there’s nothing wrong with the words they use to do so. In addition, I resent linguists and everyone else downplaying Text speak and all the other abbreviated languages that have been created during this century. All that we have done as English, French, Spanish, etc. -speaking people is created a more effective way to use our language. It should be considered a triumph not a malignant tumor to be removed from society

  116. Zippi -  February 1, 2011 - 1:26 pm

    Is it that spelling should be changed, or that pronunciation should be changed? Another moot point, I think you’ll find. Originally, spelling was applied to the sounds, by foreigners; transliteration, I believe it is called. This happened several times, throughout history. Some words had their pronunciation changed, in order to match the spelling so, both spelling and pronunciation have changed and consequently, the way in which the spelling is applied, which is another reason why English is not as phonetic as it could be and why people will find different ways of spelling something “phonetically.” Pronunciations have changed over time, even in my short lifetime. Television and increased, intense immigration is changing that way that people pronounce words. To even attempt the respell English words would be a nightmare task and once complete, the new spellings will, most likely, be obsolete, as external influences will have changed pronunciations, yet again.

  117. Paul -  February 1, 2011 - 1:20 pm

    Abso-frikkin-lutley!! Spelling needs to be brought in to the current time/space reality – and regulated by intelligent, logical people

  118. Nattaly -  February 1, 2011 - 1:14 pm

    “The European Union Commission have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility.”

    “As part of the negotiations, the British government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).”

    1. In the first year, “s” will be used instead of the soft “c”. Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard “c” will be replaced with “k”. Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.”

    2. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced by “f”. This will make words like “fotograf” 20 per sent shorter.

    3. In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expected to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent “e”s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

    4. By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” by “z” and “w” by ” v”.

    5. During ze fifz year, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords containing “ou”, and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

    6. Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst place…”

  119. Nattaly -  February 1, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German which was the other possibility.

    As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five year phase-in plan that would be known as “Euro-English”.

    In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of the “k”. This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.

    There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like “fotograf” 20% shorter.

    In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be ekspekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent “e”s in the language is disgraseful, and they should go away.

    By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”. During ze fifz year, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou” and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

    After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru! And zen world!

  120. Mark -  February 1, 2011 - 12:54 pm

    SM — I strongly agree with you. When I was in school, if you couldn’t pass the test, you didn’t go to the next grade. If you couldn’t do the job, you didn’t get hired. Now it seems people want to blame society when the lazy ones don’t want to get off their butts!

  121. Mark -  February 1, 2011 - 12:51 pm

    Don’t change the spelling. Instead let’s teach people to spell! I’m amazed at the spelling done by so many of the 20-somethings. Shortening words in text messages is one thing, but flat-out mispelling is another. They use “mirrow” for “mirror”, “tomarrow” for “tomorrow”, “gage” for “gauge”. What would you do with different words that sounds the same, such as “to”, “two”, & “too” and “there”, “their”, and “they’re”? Heck, many of them don’t know which word to use!

  122. twirly -  February 1, 2011 - 12:44 pm

    well some words come from Latin so they would be pronounced different

  123. twirly -  February 1, 2011 - 12:42 pm

    PS…I like pickles….are they the same as cucumbers???

  124. twirly -  February 1, 2011 - 12:41 pm

    Big words are hard&annoying to me.But when you use them you sound smart

  125. Jesus Cabrera -  February 1, 2011 - 12:40 pm

    Incredibly, most of us people who wrote comments on spelling showed spelling problems. It tells us that we need some kind of reform to regularize this chaotic situation. However, it has to be a concerted effort among al the English-speaking countries. Almost all languages of the world have gone through spelling reforms and moved on.

  126. Edgar -  February 1, 2011 - 12:38 pm

    I live abroad and my browser is set to English – UK, so pardon my spelling please.

    I was born in the USA to immigrant parents from the UK with the Oxbridge accent, so I grew up able to speak English, then learned to talk Murkin. I’m currently employed as an “English Polisher” by a television network in Beijing, PRC, that produces content for both the International and American audiences. For the International audience, British Received English is preferred and Murkin is what is required for the American audience. Since I’m a near-native Murkin speaker, I can do both.

    What I get from the Chinese, nearly every week, is that they refuse to believe I’m a native-born American. It’s always, “Your English is too good” or something to that effect, even though I speak with the American General Accent, Pacific Northwest Variant. Even when the speaker is at a ‘what the heck did he say?’ level of English competence, they seem to be able to suss out the difference because of my grammar and syntax.

    I think that English should be divided into two languages. One should be based on British Received English, which is mutually intelligible with Indian English, or what I call ‘Hinglish’ and International English. The other should be freely unformed Murkin. So, that in 100 years the International English speaker could say or write ‘Good Morning, how are you today? I wish to purchase a cup of coffee, please.’ and the Murkin speaker could phrase it as ‘Whassup, bra, ha y’ll be’s? Gimme cuppa coffee.’ along with numerals for words which I find most annoying. I understand 4 used to mean ‘for’, but I’m confused by 2; does it mean ‘to’, ‘two’ or ‘too’?

    During recent travels to the United States, I’ve found it nearly impossible to understand the speech of young people, to the point that I have actually had to drag along a Mumbai-native to the bank to interpret what the teller was saying. Enunciation is dying in America and no one cares. I don’t suppose it matters, because in 100 years, the official language will be Latin American Spanish and Murkins will not be able to read their own history, much like Koreans who only read Hangul [Chosongul] and not the Chinese in use hundreds of years before.

    American secondary education is abysmal, and getting worse. The only thing keeping US college undergraduate and graduate programmes literate is the influx of foreign students.

    @Angelina L

    “Try learning Chinese; at least English is a partially phonetic language, and therefore each word has its roots in what we say.”

    Two points:

    (1) There is no spoken language called Chinese. The predominant language is Putonghua, or Standard Mandarin. It is the sole official language of the PRC, except for Hong Kong and Macau. There are 10 or 11 other mostly mutually unintelligible languages spoken in China, such as Wu, Hakka, Hokkien and Cantonese. Putonghua is officially romanized in pinyin in the PRC and cyrillised in Russia in Palladius. As a spoken language, it is not hard to learn. I will agree that the use of four tonals with the accompanying short flat sound may seem a bit daunting at first, but the lack of gender and tense with resultant verb declension make the grammar rather easy.

    (2) Yes, the 5,000+ characters required for full literacy, as defined by the PRC government’s tests, is challenging. Ironically, some Chinese preparing for those tests, the ones with money, travel to the US to take special courses provided by community colleges in a rigorous atmosphere However, I can make sense of newspapers with as few as 600 characters and once you understand the source characters for other characters, learning new characters is not terribly difficult, especially in the Simplified character set used in the PRC. Most Americans didn’t learn to read phonetically, so they don’t “sound out” words.

    The once great nation of the USA, was built on a common American Standard English, which is as linguistically coloured as the British version. However, the refusal, for political correctness reasons, to hold American youth to some minimal competence in the language, and instead allow creeping mongrelisation will hasten the economic, social and moral demise of the USA. I’ll be sorry to see the land of my birth, and the one I served in its military become a third-rate state run of, by and for [or is it 4?] the pack of louts growing up now.

    However, I’ll be safely viewing that sad spectacle from the comfort and safety of the PRC.

    Zàijiàn, folks!

  127. SM -  February 1, 2011 - 12:20 pm

    Raise your glasses. Here is to the dumbification of America. It seems that institutions are constantly lowering the bar to meet the lazy rather than raising the bar and requiring the lazy to step up their game and reach the bar.

  128. PR Savvy :-} -  February 1, 2011 - 12:19 pm

    Such a ‘cool’ article!:! Many words, of same exact spelling, can carry varried meanings. The word “mean” can insinuate, for example, 1}one’s significance towards a value system: ‘trust’ signifies many things
    to many people. People who have shown trust in others are trustworthy, while people who have betrayed trust are often avoided; “mean” 2} imply someone’s intention, i.e., her verbal and facial cues towards her
    friend’s acceptance into college articulated her true meaning.

    Also, Pop culture says alot regarding its umbrella of perspectives, attitudes, images and other phenomena deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially early-mid 20th century Western culture and emerging global mainstream of the late 20th and early 21st century. As always, mass media still weighs heavily on influencing this group of ideas and permeates the everyday lives of
    the society. Pop culture’s origin dates back to end of WWII.

    Oftentimes, Pop culture ‘dumbs down’ their language to find consensual acceptance throughout the mainstream. It commonly receives strong
    criticism from various, opposite sources (most notably religious
    groups and countercultural groups) that deem it superficial,
    consumerist and sensationalist.

  129. SDM726 -  February 1, 2011 - 11:55 am

    @ Ban
    I would love to read your novel, when it is finished. E-mail me at yahoo.

  130. Augusta -  February 1, 2011 - 11:47 am

    The standard spelling used should be kept. Many years ago I had experience of using the Initial Teaching Alphabet. The spelling was completely phonetic but the difficulty arose from accent. Since there are numerous regional accents reading some of the writing was extremely difficult to read and understand. Stick with what we have despite it difficulties.

  131. Me -  February 1, 2011 - 10:44 am

    Yes, they should DEFINATLY fix the english language even if it creates a huge uproar and shift in our culture, history, and teaching. It is a constant aggrivation for me and anyone in or out of school. I am in high school, and i contuinue to struggle to understand the reasoning behind spelling. While taking foreign languages, i see how logical other languages are in their spelling. They did it right: each word is pronounced exactly how it is spelled. no silent letters, or “igh” just taking up space in words. And of course, EVERY rule in english had an acception. Why? just make it a rule for all situations no matter what!

    • uehf ghab -  November 14, 2016 - 7:02 pm

      I honestly think that we should vote on this matter.

  132. ag -  February 1, 2011 - 10:25 am

    @zippi hey I’m just exaggerating things =)means 110% means i totally agree with Ban with hands up =)

  133. c3r6s9 -  February 1, 2011 - 10:12 am

    I like spelling the way it is because, first of all, if we did change it I would have to learn it all over again. Second, I agree with those who say that we should stick to the spelling of the Greek/Latin/French/German roots, because I make up words for my fantasy stories(which I don’t usually write down; it’s more of an imagination thing).

  134. SufficientGrace -  February 1, 2011 - 10:06 am

    While this article is interesting, and has been fuel for great conversation, it has a fatal flaw at its core. English words already are, for the most part, spelled phonetically. The problem has been failures in our education/learning to teach all the rules of phonics and grammar. I have taught phonics to children for years and am always amazed at how excited they get when the light bulb turns on and they ‘get’ why those words are pronounced/spelled the way they are. I have also taught ESL classes with a phonics program, and again, the foreign students are so pleased to know the roots/etymology of our language. It opens up a whole new world!

    Enough is already spelled phonetically, following the rule for the pronunciation of the phonogram ‘ough’. ‘Plymouth’ is following the rule for ‘y’ where it is used in place of the letter ‘i’ and in this case: If there is only one vowel in a single syllable or a monosyllabic word, that vowel is short.

    As for ‘wind’ and ‘wind’, there is a more of an argument here. This is one of the rare cases where phonics rules get murky. Yet, this is where understanding the history of words (etymology) becomes so interesting. Funny thing is that each was originally pronounced the way of the other:

    Finally, a thought that popped into my head as I read this article, and the ensuing comments was that the English language has grown and spread, just the way it is. Why mess with an already good thing.

  135. Kundi 13 from Zimbabwe -  February 1, 2011 - 9:59 am

    enuf is short cut used when texting. enough is the proper word. this is just a STUPID thing to put on the internet. this is boring. people forget about this, there is fun stuff on the internet like FACEBOOK.

  136. IrishEyes -  February 1, 2011 - 9:45 am

    Because of all the “Technology” people want to change our fundamentals of learning and education. It is all about laziness. What would happen if technology ceased to exist? In Georgia they are trying to take cursive writing out of the curriculum. Now they want to change the spelling of our whole vocabulary. Talk about confusion. I guess “The powers that be” want the future generations to be ignorant. You want to change reading and writing, what’s next? Are you going to try to convince me that 2+2=5? Give it a rest. Some people are better at English some at Math. If you are not good with math, count on your fingers and toes until you get it right. If you can’t spell, pick up a dictionary and work harder at it. But don’t make everyone else change, because you are too lazy to learn it the right way.

  137. Arby -  February 1, 2011 - 9:30 am

    There is nothing to be fixed. I agree with those posts above that point to the educational benefits of having clues to our langauge’s origins and evolution built into the “official” proper spelling of its words. It provides jumping off points for any number of other lines of inquiry. In helping children understand why we spell words they way we do, we also offer illuminating lessons in history, for example, where various ethnicities and cultures originated and what they believed (about religion, politics, war, class, race, etc.). And keeping our spelling as is also facilitates learning other languages (whose alphabet we share) once we realize how many words we are already familiar with.

  138. Kacy -  February 1, 2011 - 9:21 am

    I don’t think the problem is the language. It’s the failing public school structures of America. I’m an excellent speller and loved English class in school. However, if my education had been stricter, I would be more disciplined and probably smarter.

  139. Bryan -  February 1, 2011 - 9:20 am

    I don’t think it is such a big deal on how a word is spelled. With the use of technology today, words are being replaced by individual letters or aare being spelled as they sound by people with English as a second language. R u reddy 2 put all thes words n2 the english language? Ive had enuf…lol

  140. LITom -  February 1, 2011 - 9:19 am

    The English language is the spoken word. Spelling is a physical representation of the spoken word – not the same thing. Tradition need not define “correct”. Artificial, or arbitrary spelling of words just adds inefficiency to the process, and defies language’s whole point: a means of communication. I agree with the fix it crowd. Spelling snobs: get over it, you’ll find other ways to prove how smart you are.

  141. Chris Meditz -  February 1, 2011 - 9:17 am

    I feel strongly that Americans –and yes, I’m an american, for those of you thinking I was about to speak ill of the country– are always looking for the easy way out. Are “Scholars” honestly looking to dumb down the way we spell words so that people who aren’t motivated ENOUGH to learn proper grammar and diction can successfully fool people into thinking they are more intelligent, or at the very least motivated to learn, than they really are? The enirety of the first world nations already look at us as simple minded and lacking in intelligence, and I, for one, do not want to live in the United States of Alabama –no offense Alabama. If you can’t grasp the spelling of the words you use in every day conversation, Darwin was as correct as we all thought he was.

  142. Catherine Tobon -  February 1, 2011 - 8:15 am

    While it is obvious that the English language lacks official constant rules and regulations, present in most languages, there should not necessarily be a search for a “solution”. The lack of specific rules does not correlate with a lack of history, and therefore altering the language would ultimately alter its foundation. The English language, although with random selections of word use, represents the generations which have used it as their own form of communication. Like the article stated, it is a combination of many different languages in one, representing the process by which the initial language was created and its current version.

    Most importantly, if continuous generations have accomplished the task of becoming fluent in the English language, why should we “dumb it down?” What it is today represents ultimately where it came from, and while all other languages seem to have a structure, this one simply doesn’t. It can still be learned, and properly used. Just because it requires more than the usual effort, does not mean it is in need of a “fix.”

  143. Adriana Urdaneta -  February 1, 2011 - 8:03 am

    The author basically explores the different opinions and arguments concerning the changing of the spelling of English words. However, he tends to lean towards the spelling of English words should be altered and revised. By changing the rules of this language, all modern and classic books, along with documents would have to be revised and re-edited. This is not feasible. The language evolved naturally, and it will continue to evolve at its own pace. A harsh an sudden change in the way we write would only create more confusion and difficulties.

  144. Anothny -  February 1, 2011 - 8:00 am

    Gorw up. English is good. I speak it giood and fancy.

  145. LARRY DAVIS -  February 1, 2011 - 7:04 am


  146. LARRY DAVIS -  February 1, 2011 - 6:52 am


  147. Grey -  February 1, 2011 - 6:09 am

    rite cus wee wood luv too talk liyk thys oll thee tiym. thyt wood bee fun. reely reely hillarius if yoo ask mee

  148. Calac64 -  February 1, 2011 - 5:35 am

    I think that the english language should be tweeked, but only slightly. Every one who is currently fluent should keep spelling it the same. An altered, but correct, version of the english language should be available to foreigners and etc. who are just learning the language. This spelling problem is one of the reasons why our language is so hard to learn. However, with the current advancements in lazyness, spellcheck, and computers, pretty soon writing and spelling will be an out-dated thing of the past.

  149. imjustsaying -  February 1, 2011 - 5:34 am

    Great article! I love word origin, so I guess I am a proponent for not changing the spelling. If we learned different languages at a younger age, we would be able to correlate the english words we learn.I studied a year of latin & even though I could hardly translate anything,I have an understanding for roots,prefixes & suffixes. Nevertheless, I agree… English is RANDOM! imjustsaying!

  150. michael -  February 1, 2011 - 5:12 am

    An old one from school:

    How do you pronounce “ghoti” ?

    Answer “fish”

    “gh” = “f” (as in enough, rough, tough, etc.)
    “o” = “i” (as in women)
    “ti” = “sh” (as in action, fashion, diction, etc.)

    In what other language could you have such fun ???

    Leave English spelling alone.

  151. The Demon Ira -  February 1, 2011 - 4:59 am

    @ Ban

    Also, I am sorry to hear about your condition. My little sister as PTSD, and we deal with it day by day. Would love to hook up with you on an MMO.

    Ira Von Wrath

  152. The Demon Ira -  February 1, 2011 - 4:55 am

    @ Ban

    You are right, the actual Age range of most MMO players is around 15-19, not 12. Most 12 year olds can’t play the modern MMO’s. To generalize Age 12 as the main MMO range is stupid as I play MMO’s like crazy, and I am 19. Most WoW players are about 18 years of age, as are most EQ players and DDO Players.

    Nice work on the studies, As you are correct. I study MMO’s for a future in gaming and writing. Thank for your contribution to these comments.

    And to correct spelling on Games is kinda stupid as games are meant to be fun, not grammar nor spelling correct. Not all of The MMO’s players are American, nor speak English. We must make allowances for those people, as we don’t all know English.

    Ira Von Wrath, DDO Player.

  153. l.t. -  February 1, 2011 - 4:33 am

    Uh, ya know, der’s English and Mercaneze. Oui Oui, if you pleeze? Non Tweet or is that sneeze?

  154. Tina -  February 1, 2011 - 4:23 am

    This was so unsatisfactory and so useless that I was actually driven to comment.

    The beauty of English is in how random it is. It’s an incredible mixture of various languages. There is a harmony amid the chaos that keeps the language compelling. Trying to find a way to standardize it is like watering down the paint on a masterpiece. It will lose its mystery and brilliance.

    English is unlike other languages. There is nothing simple or rigidly structured about it. This is why mastering it despite its being a foreign language is a heady achievement. Because it is difficult, it is more greatly appreciated.

  155. S Ross -  February 1, 2011 - 4:21 am

    All language has beauty. I adore the English language and would hate to see any of it changed.

    @Ban – I love your mind!

  156. Gareth -  February 1, 2011 - 2:27 am

    @Ross: Maybe you’re right with Chinese (Mandarin or whichever language you mean by that), but the current state of English is that there are several directions diverging from the standard (by which I mean American or British English) and none of these seem to be dying out by any means. Moreover they seem to be being assimilated by younger speakers. This movement is being powerfully supported by the media, who use these non-standard variants to appeal to the public. This is causing changes in the fields of grammar, semantics and morphology even among native speakers.
    I fully understand learners complaining and linguists contemplating a general convergence of orthography – maybe it wouldn’t change the course of variation in contemporary English but it would help foreigners (many of which live among native speakers but have problems learning English even there) to understand how to write correctly.
    The real aim of a language is to maximize communication with a common vocabulary (written or spoken) – which is exactly why every invader of Britain brought their own vocabulary with them … so that they could be understood/ understand others better. Now we are not invading English-speaking countries any more, how about a little convergence? :)

  157. Ross Milburn -  January 31, 2011 - 11:48 pm

    The correct answer to the problem of irrationality in any language is to recognize that languages are organic in nature and must either constantly adapt, in pronunciation and spelling, to the changing needs of the populations that use them, or must die out. Both pronunciation and spelling should be regarded as subject to personal preference and taught that way in schools. The result would be some movement towards rational spelling, plus constant and essential evolution. The Chinese language, which was standardized early by state fiat, is consequently harder to learn and to input to computers. Languages codified by state decree will falter and then die out. The issue is the same as that of communism versus the free market – humans are organisms and culture must be free so that it can evolve.

  158. Ban -  January 31, 2011 - 11:43 pm


    First, I’m going to bypass the obvious question of which country (or countries) you’ve been living in, as your comments seem to infer that one (or more) of these assumptions is correct: (1) your primary exposure is to what most would perceive as “third world countries”, (2) you’ve simply been around people that are too polite to call you an imbecile to your face, OR (3) you’re in the military and, thus, your exposure is potentially limited to specific areas. However, I will agree with you – and whole-heartedly – on one of your assertions: the American educational system is NOT the worst in the world. It is currently ranked 14th (out of 34), by the OECD, based upon PISA rankings. However, that ranking covers only 15 year olds and was given to a VERY limited number of students (roughly 470,000, in the entire world). What’s further is the fact that, also according to the OECD report, the U.S. is third from the bottom (above only Mexico and Turkey) of the number of 15 year olds enrolled in schools and actively pursuing an education – which should give a fairly clear indication that “high school dropouts” (i.e.- increased ignorance and laziness) are on the rise.

    You said, “In different cultures the people view the USA in different ways, but rarely do they have the same proud, higher-than-you view that you are expressing. In addition, if you are correcting the spelling of players of mmo games.. many of those players are about 12, and the adults who spend a great deal of time playing said games hardly represent american adults in general. If you have decided to learn as much as you can, perhaps you should analyze your own biases and try to see how that changes your view of this topic”

    Not that I’m trying to specifically pick on you for something so irrelevant, but I do believe the term you were looking for is “holier-than-thou.” Though, it does serve to prove a point of this entire discussion: the English language has terms, figures of speech, idioms, etc., that have long been embraced and attempting to suddenly (or even gradually, over a 20-year period) change them would lead to apathetic attitudes toward learning the changes in the language, as people would grow frustrated and insist on not learning anything until all the proposed changes were completed (which, by that point, would likely be so different that it would be almost like learning an entirely new language). While I’m sure that you might wish to contest this and try to view the world through “rose-colored glasses,” the simple fact is that people – not just Americans – are almost wholly apathetic and given to ignoring anything that they perceive as not directly affecting themselves. (If you think otherwise, tell me why there still exists poverty/hunger in this world, when the movie salaries of even half of Hollywood, ALONE, would almost eradicate hunger in many third world countries. Or, perhaps, why there is still human suffering, perpetuated by despots and tyrannical governments.)

    You’ve made a HUGE assumption about a subject in which it is painfully obvious that you have very little knowledge of – MMO gaming. Before I correct said assumption, I’ll disclose a bit more of my own background. For over ten years now, I’ve been conducting an informal study of human behavior (as psychology is one of my favorite hobbies), specializing in human interaction over the internet. For eight of those years, I’ve been dealing with PTSD and have become a sort of “conscientious objector” (so to speak), focusing my personal study to MMO games. I can also tell you, beyond question, that the age of 12 does NOT represent your average MMO player. As a matter of fact, most MMO games charge subscription fees (typically billed to credit cards) and, the last time I checked, credit card companies weren’t just handing out cards to anyone that didn’t have an income – something that very, very few 12 year olds have. Based upon my own findings, the actual age of your “average” MMO player is very quickly approaching 30 years of age. Once, during my time playing World of Warcraft, I decided to take my “study” across various servers. Out of 100 people questioned, the highest number of “17 or younger” I found was two and, of that same group, over three times that (quite surprisingly) were people between 55-70 years of age. Said adults, whom you also made a painfully incorrect assumption about, often play MMOs because of that fact that such games are “cheap entertainment” – much cheaper than even going out to see a movie, on a single Friday per month, in America.

    With that said, the horribly incorrect assumption you made was that I “correct the spelling of players of MMO games,” as I quickly learned that such was a perfect example of an exercise in futility. I’m going to guess that you assumed that my claim of being labeled as a “spelling/grammar Nazi” was because of such, but simply is not the case. I’m often called it for simply using proper spelling and grammar – even though I do make mistakes, quite frequently at times. You see, I actually spend my time playing MMO games due to the fact that, because I’ve developed PTSD, I can’t do many of the things that most Americans take for granted – like driving a car (an activity which causes me extremely intense physical pain) or work a “normal job.” So, I spend my time reading, writing, doing research, playing MMO games, and often combining my research with gaming. While it’s not exactly the life I foresaw for myself, when I graduated high school (roughly 17 years ago), it is a life that has developed from terrible mistakes that I’ve made and the repercussions that I’ve brought upon myself.

    Because I’ve never been the type to just “give up,” I made the decision to make the best of my situation and am currently writing my first novel. Writing a novel, I might add, is something which Marc decided to attempt a “humorous” jab at, in that I do actually spend a LOT of time on dictionary.com and thesaurus.com looking up words – ranging from checking my own spelling to trying to find a “better word” for a word that might be annoying me to making sure I’m not misusing a word. Why? Because I don’t want to be “yet another novelist, putting out yet another novel.” I want to become the absolute best writer that I can be and put out works that make people stop and say, “Hey, have you read his newest book? Oh, man, it’s freaking amazing! Literally, I couldn’t put it down and didn’t get a wink of sleep, last night!” Why? Because, even among today’s authors, mediocrity has become the norm.

    As I stated, in my previous post, I’m not one for being just one amongst the masses. Any and every little thing I do is done with every ounce of my desire to be above and beyond what others simply do to get things done. Life is precious and it’s far too short. If you’re not pushing yourself to be better than you already are and you’re “just getting by,” you’re doing yourself and everyone around you a tragic disservice. Be more or be silent, to put it bluntly.

    P.S.- Scott, if you do happen to be American military (and to any and all others who might be reading this and serving) – thank you for serving. Despite my feelings toward my country, I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who serve in the American military. They often put their lives on the line – for causes right or wrong – on orders from politicians who’ve likely never even been remotely close to combat.

  159. Michelle -  January 31, 2011 - 11:10 pm

    Language is something made by people and changing them is not correct because language made by people and for people. All languages in world they have same problem which is historical and we can nor change anything because language is a history of people. you can not change the history and you can not change the language either. It does not matter when Roman, English man or Spanish man came to that country and change the language this was happened and times passed by and changing a language does not going any where. Because people at a time accepted those changes and It is a History. And history can not be changed because this is a fact and if the facts change, noting has a meaning.

  160. JajaKuroneko -  January 31, 2011 - 11:04 pm

    To the person self-identified as “Ban,” I am, in fact, quite offended. I will also prove you wrong by responding to your presumptuous comment with a grammatically and orthographically correct comment, not that I imagine you will actually be returning to read it.

    In greater relevance to this article, I personally do not believe that the current spellings should be changed. As another person said before, each word has its own history, which is revealed through its unique spelling. Besides, most of the words are not as difficult to remember if one keeps in mind the language of origin.

    Also, Chic-fil-a’s advertisements wouldn’t be funny any more… TT-TT

  161. Michelle -  January 31, 2011 - 10:59 pm

    Language is something made by people and changing them is not corract because language made by people and for people. All languages in world they have same problem which is historical and we can change anything because language is a history of people. you can not change the history and you can not change the language either. It does not matter when roman or English man or Spanish man came to that country and change the language this was happened and times passed by and changing a language does not going any where. Because people at a time accepted those changes and It is a History. And history can not be changed because this is a fact and if the facts change, notting has a meaning.

  162. ron -  January 31, 2011 - 10:01 pm

    the spelling of english is foolish and ridiculous. there are, i believe 5 original signatures of shakespeare in existence, and he spells his name in 3 different ways! if shakespeare had problems we must assume that the language has problems.

    the spelling of english has never been planned or thought about; like topsy, ‘it just growed’.

    when the first movable type printing presses were invented in the 13th century, those operating them often could not spell. the french language still had a strong influence on the english court, so that confused the spelling even further.

    language is first and foremost about clear communication. spelling english phonetically would aid this.

    it would help foreigners to learn our language much more easily. the world desperately needs an international language, and english could well be it.

    it would help us all to study more efficiently, we could read books more quickly and understand them more easily.

    words such as ‘neighbor’, are a pathetic example; i mean, how does anyone pronounce ‘ghb’? ‘thorough’ is another calamitous attempt at word construction.

    the sooner we get rid of all these disastrous attempts at spelling english that we have inherited from people who had little idea what they were doing, the better our language will become.

  163. pooper -  January 31, 2011 - 9:19 pm

    the person below me spelled a lot wrong. anyways, i am used to words spelled the way that they are. there is no need for change.

  164. Billy -  January 31, 2011 - 8:45 pm

    There are a lot of things which could be ironed out and changed to make English spelling less vague sounds like “oo” as in look, “ew” as in crew, “ue” as in blue, “u_e” as in cute, “o” as in do, “oe” as in shoe (which is also “oe” in toe) “o_e” as in prove, (which is also O in drove) “ou” as in could (which is also “ou” in cloud), “ui” as in suit, “u” as in fuchsia, and “eu” as in sleuth are confusing for learners whether they are first or second language learners. Once you start to look at it a lot of English spelling is just a mess.

    From what I have read of the comments for keeping English spelling the same, there seems to be an attitude of, “well we had to learn it when we were children, so children nowadays should too,” or “it’s our heritage,” these are poor arguments.
    Making English spelling less irregular allows teachers to focus on developing children’s skill in comprehension, interpretation, expression and composition.

    Learning spelling, for most children, is a dull and laborious task, very few of them enjoy it. Yes it is true that spelling bees are popular but skill at memorizing parts of a language does not necessarily mean skill in other areas of it.

  165. Miranda G -  January 31, 2011 - 8:19 pm

    *no set of rules.

  166. Miranda G -  January 31, 2011 - 8:19 pm

    The English language is only as lovely as it is because of the fact that we have so set of rules. It’s what America is about, freedom of expression and choice. Why change what’s not wrong?

  167. C -  January 31, 2011 - 8:14 pm

    English can be talked like our freedom can be expressed and if no other language can give that like English, English is the best.

  168. Kathleen -  January 31, 2011 - 8:13 pm

    I can’t stand seeing people write with ‘chat speak’ at anytime; I completely agree with the further stated ideas that by removing our insane loop hole rules we would remove the very essence of what the English language is, and I mean the real language. Where we pronounce our ‘wh’s and use u frequently, not this Americanized way of spelling where honor, color, and gray is acceptable. (Let alone wtevr, pwned, lol, and b/c as ‘words’) I see enough of these in essays by high school students; I do not want to see anymore of these in the world.

  169. Billy -  January 31, 2011 - 8:01 pm

    I suppose it all depends on your point of view. I teach English as a second language and many of my students ask questions about the idiosyncrasies of English spelling. The only thing I can tell them is to memorize the idiosyncrasies and look out for vowel placement. Good examples of what I mean are “composition” and “question” for vowel placement and “although, bough, rough,” and “thorough” for idiosyncrasies.

  170. Daniel -  January 31, 2011 - 7:55 pm

    I feel that English should be “fixed” because that way we will all understand one language and not have to learn dialect.

  171. Nicole de Vaal -  January 31, 2011 - 7:52 pm

    ” English is currently the most widely-spoken language on the planet, yet it is the only language among the top ten most spoken that lacks an official regulatory academy to approve spelling. ”
    People nowadays find themselves troubled when it comes to spelling English orthography, this is because of its complex mixture of origins, such as German, Latin, French and Greek roots, and the gargantuan mutations our language has suffered throughout the years. However, American English, in my opinion, couldn’t have resulted more perfectly. It’s original and unique. Even from the British English, our father’s ‘native’ English, it contains its orthography differences. English should stay as it is, after all there is no need to reform because if done so, it would only add more complication to its history and evolution.

  172. ms.karma -  January 31, 2011 - 7:47 pm

    fix? no. if you find the english language complicated then fixing it would just leave most of us confused.

  173. Passerby -  January 31, 2011 - 7:24 pm

    English isn’t the most spoken language in the world. It’s Mandarin Chinese.

  174. purpleflowers -  January 31, 2011 - 7:07 pm

    It annoys me how there are so many misspellings on these comments…

  175. hi -  January 31, 2011 - 6:54 pm

    i think it will be too confusing if english is changed since we r used to the way it is now.

  176. Liam -  January 31, 2011 - 6:52 pm

    ‘Enough’ isn’t an irregularity. First you must understand how the English language evolved. It is a mix if numerous dialects, and not just that of North Sea Germanic. The English language is evolving all the time, and there is no doubt that the mix between American English and British English will grow wider, and that in the future, or even the near-future as we are seeing it already from various Internet sources, that words such as ‘enuf’ or ‘skreem’ may enter the lexicon.

  177. Lauren -  January 31, 2011 - 6:32 pm

    Interesting read. I don’t believe, however, that we should revise the English language. Spelling enough “enuf” is indeed Text speak, and that laziness above all irritates me. English is complex and unique. And if it truly is the most popular language then revision would be too difficult on the population. Leave it as is. One thing we should do though is speak Esperanto.

  178. Craig -  January 31, 2011 - 6:26 pm

    Two more questions at answer: Why isn’t phonetic spelled the way it sounds and why is abbreviation such a long word?

  179. Nehemie -  January 31, 2011 - 6:02 pm

    I think that English should be left alone. How it is spelled is part of who we are and the language. To change it would be a bad thing to do. So whoever has a problem with the spelling of English deal with it and just learn how to spell properly. Stop being lazy and take the time to learn the rules of spelling.

  180. Rameshwar Baral -  January 31, 2011 - 5:49 pm

    Life over I’ve been learning and teaching this funny language called English in my place Nepal. Now very dificult and intriguing all the more, since the cocktail of British and American are the variant spellings that I’m particularly unable to instruct my learners. Universities in our place just make both varieties into a cocktail, and we’re worsely unable to dictate which one to follow. One variety at least should take the leadership to refine this universal language so that it becomes universally common, and in spellings, word sounds, and even in grammar. Rameshwar Baral, Kathmandu, Nepal

  181. Morgan -  January 31, 2011 - 5:32 pm

    no, don’t change anymore words. That would just confuse the f**k out of me

  182. Jaimie Wasserman -  January 31, 2011 - 5:30 pm

    I believe that although many people have trouble reading old engligh, it does not mean it should be changed. Many novels are written that way due to the era it was written or when the story takes place. If we fix the english then the novel would completely change. Also, these words have history and meaning and we should learn from them.

  183. Chad -  January 31, 2011 - 5:25 pm

    English has developed for centuries into what it is today. Something that is so special about the English language is that is has roots from many different places making it very versatile. We should not try and stop it from changing. If people want to write in dialect to add character then they should be allowed to. There is no way to “perfect” the language.

  184. Zippi -  January 31, 2011 - 5:18 pm

    Oops. English, in Colonial America, was very different from English today.

  185. Zippi -  January 31, 2011 - 5:15 pm

    I have a question for you. Of all of you who think that English spellings should be changed, how many of you live in England? If English is to be reworked, it should be done so in England, by the English people.
    ag, you cannot have more than 100%
    Anonymous, ideas are not invented.
    Avital, English, in Colonial America, is very different FROM English today.
    Scott, you forgot “cough” and Slough, in Berkshire, which rhymes with cow.

  186. Annabelle -  January 31, 2011 - 4:55 pm

    Why does it really matter how stuff is spelled? I have learned how to spell enough and scream just fine and i don’t spell enof and skreem…

  187. Bob -  January 31, 2011 - 4:48 pm

    I Think This Thing Is Stupid!

  188. Paula -  January 31, 2011 - 4:38 pm

    Should we fix it? No, I don’t think so. We could have done it better in the first place, but I don’t see a point in changing things, and having to re-learn and re-teach the language. I have to say that I’m a firm believer that if you move to the United States permanently, you should begin to learn English, but honestly, I can’t blame people when they just give up.

  189. Taylor Salzman -  January 31, 2011 - 4:36 pm

    In the article that author says that English is the most widely spoken language in the world but it also says and I agree with that the spelling of words in the English language can be very confusing at times. AS the most widely spoken language on the planet it is our duty to fix the spelling in the English language so that it is easier for all to learn and understand.

  190. Avital -  January 31, 2011 - 4:32 pm

    I think that English’s spelling should be fixed immediately. In fact, just look at the answers in the comment bar. You should count at least one or two spelling mistakes on the long ones (about a paragraph long). Humans want to make everything easier. Why not language as well? It would help us all and my friends wouldn’t all say they hate spelling, and controversy could be avoided by slightly correcting the English language. After all, we did change the English language a lot before; English in Colonial America is very different than English today.

    I vote that we should change the most challenging, and annoying, thing about the English language – spelling. Who’s with me?

  191. Angelina L -  January 31, 2011 - 4:22 pm

    Let’s be practical here; let’s say we did accept for a minute the absurd notion that English is harder to learn than other languages. If it were, what could we practically do to change that? According to Wikipedia, approximately 375 million people speak English as their mother tongue. It’s hard enough to get 375 million people to change the spelling and/or pronunciation of one WORD, let alone a lot more than that. So, practically, it is way too late to be thinking about doing this; we should have noticed this when English was just beginning to emerge as a new-found language.

    Furthermore, going back to my first statement, English is NOT by any means harder to learn than any other language. Try learning Chinese; at least English is a partially phonetic language, and therefore each word has its roots in what we say.

    My point/s stand/s strong.

  192. Rachel -  January 31, 2011 - 4:18 pm

    Yes, the English language is hard to learn but that is what makes it such a great skill to master. If we change the English language so that every word is phonetic, it will lose its symmetry. I think I will be turning in my grave before serious writers pen the word as “enuf”.

  193. Anoymous -  January 31, 2011 - 4:14 pm

    @ Ban

    I totally agree with you. Changing the English language would be the STUPIDEST idea invented. Well, there may be stupider plannings but this is one of the stupid ideas that were invented by some scientists or researchers or whatsoever.

  194. Anoymous -  January 31, 2011 - 4:03 pm

    In my opinion, we should NOT change English! That would get things messed up and stuff. If we change English, then things would get even worse. We would need to learn a whole new language with a whole bunch of English in our heads. One’s head cannot hold a new language, when they have English and probably some other language.

  195. Prof. L. Phillips -  January 31, 2011 - 3:55 pm

    In my opinion, it would be a lot harder to re-teach the English age than to keep the interesting melting pot of language we already have. In other words, it would be simpler not to simplify.

  196. Victoria -  January 31, 2011 - 3:36 pm

    I think it should be changed, english is so hard to learn!!!!!!!!!!

  197. ag -  January 31, 2011 - 3:35 pm

    @Ban I salute you man.. you’re correct 110%

    @ARCLESS I had already read about that article you posted. it was a drive to correct english irregularities and how to speak/write proper english and a campaign to unite the german and english language.. I just hope you had indicated the site where you got that excerpt from because someone here might accuse you of PLAGIARISM…

  198. Meloso -  January 31, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    I admire the English language, and love the etymology of it. I don’t mind change, but I wouldn’t like a total reform of the language, it would take away so much history.

  199. Scott -  January 31, 2011 - 3:13 pm

    First… Rough (ruff)
    Dough (doh)
    Through (thru)
    All end in ough and all are pronounced differently.

    Secondly… @ban

    I disagree. I am an American who was educated in the united states and for the past 2 years have been living outside of them. I find that the level of education in the united states is certainly not the highest, but it is also not the lowest out there. In different cultures the people view the USA in different ways, but rarely do they have the same proud, higher-than-you view that you are expressing. In addition, if you are correcting the spelling of players of mmo games.. many of those players are about 12, and the adults who spend a great deal of time playing said games hardly represent american adults in general. If you have decided to learn as much as you can, perhaps you should analyze your own biases and try to see how that changes your view of this topic

  200. amy -  January 31, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    Hey, does the author of this post live in Connecticut by any chance? Because somebody I know talks a lot about English, and a few days later something similar ends up on this website….

  201. Joe -  January 31, 2011 - 2:31 pm


    I also grew up in America, to American parents, until age 17. Then I moved. I’ve been living in Europe for the past 5 years. Living here has opened my eyes and I completely agree with EVERY point you stated. Americans are ignorant.

  202. Zippi -  January 31, 2011 - 2:29 pm

    One problem is that English vowels have more than one pronunciation. The latter “A” fir example: At, ate, ate, are. If we are to write phonetically, as some suggest, “a” should always sound the same but because of the different origins of words and the way the successive generations of people have chosen to interpret the pronunciations of the words, “a” sounds different in different words and due to accents (in England, these are the remnants of the old languages, which were once spoke across the country, before English) the letter “a” will be pronounced differently in the same word by one people. In most part of the U.S.A. “a” is pronounced as a diphthong. How would that be represented phonetically? We use Latin characters, yet seldom use Latin pronunciation, which is more phonetic that the system which we use currently; I say “more” phonetic, because there are certain sounds which are not represented by Latin characters.
    Any attempt to reform, or rework english spelling will end in disaster. we will end up with many different spellings of the same word, as was the case before the invention of the printing press. To give you some idea; there were approximately 26 different spelling of the word that we now know as “church” which is, actually, mispronounced. We use a “ch” sound which is more akin the the French pronunciation, when, in fact, the origin is closer to a guttural “k” (think Scousers, or Arabic speakers). This explains why, in Scotland, the Lord’s house is called “kirk.”
    The history of a nation is contained within those annoying and sometimes nonsensical spellings. We would be wise to leave them as they are.

  203. Cyberquill -  January 31, 2011 - 2:12 pm

    Given the sheer amount of books and other printed materials in existence already, any spelling reform imposed from above would only lead to everyone having to learn the new spelling in addition to the old spelling of every word deemed in need of reform. In essence, it would be splitting WE (Written English) into OWE (Old Written English) and NWE (New Written English). Not exactly a recipe for simplification.

  204. Carl "Spelmyst" Harris -  January 31, 2011 - 2:04 pm

    I’m an American. It bothers me to no end that English speakers (especially here) feel it’s okay to change the pronunciation of word, simply because it suits them or they’re too lazy to learn the correct way to say the word. Sadly enough, this applies to our teaches too, whom often don’t know where a word comes from, or won’t bother to find out.

    I partially agree with changing the spelling. However, only so it matches the original root word. This would make finding a meaning or definition easier. While still respecting the original language it was borrowed from.

    I also think we need to change the way we pronounce the words. We should return to a more Latin-like static pronunciation of letters, especially vowels. I think that too would lend itself to less confusion. Particularly with children or people just learning English.

  205. Anonymous -  January 31, 2011 - 1:46 pm

    No, I think that it shouldn’t be changed because ifwe do, we would have to publish every single book in english all over again with the changes. Plus we’re used to the words we write now and it would be confusing. Imagine this:
    I think that we shud not chaynj the werds becoz it wud luk liyk this orl ov the tiym.
    See what I mean? Very confusing!

  206. ag -  January 31, 2011 - 1:42 pm

    @ liz i dont agree with you. the most accurate language when it comes to phonetics and pronunciation is FILIPINO.. you read it as you spell it. =)
    well the FILIPINO language is spanish based and evolved throughout the years.

    I can also say nippongo is also phonetically easy but the hiragana,katakana and kanji they’re really difficult.

    If I were to choose if english language should correct its irregularities, that’s fine but the magic of the language will disappear. every language jas its own distinction,uniqueness and signature which makes it mysteriuos enough and fun to learn.

    And afterall that’s the reason why we have ENGLISH/SPANISH/JAPANESE/ LANGUAGE subjects etc.. to ensure global competency is achieved and to minimize or eradicate language barrier

  207. Tyler Gammell -  January 31, 2011 - 1:30 pm

    The only reason we find it some what easy to spell, which contraction is made of wich two words etc. is because we grew up spelling it. If we want people around the world to speak English than why not simplify it. Why shouldn’t phone be spelled fone? Back in the day of settlers you would spell a word how it sounds, we should do that again.
    And no it’s not hard to “fix” the language. What’s so hard about spelling a word how it sounds? If some one else thinks phone should be spelled fon when you think fone than does it matter? No since the point of any language is to get a message across than as long as the other person knows what word you mean that languagu will work.

  208. Kevin -  January 31, 2011 - 1:26 pm

    why bother?
    it will just be a waste of time and everyone will get confused because…
    Unlike some of these people here…
    thank you to all the fans that read my comment. I appreciate it.

  209. LITom -  January 31, 2011 - 1:05 pm

    Spelling of words correctly is another tool for those who are well-educated to easily identify those who are not. Words spelled phonetically would level the playing field, and who wants that?

  210. Nikki -  January 31, 2011 - 12:51 pm

    All across the U.S. alone, people speak American-English with different dialects. I imagine there are innumerable variants when looking at the English language on a global scale. If the language were to be “fix”ed, to which locations would the revisions apply? Altering a language would simply cause even MORE inconsistencies throughout the English-speaking communities of the world.

  211. Edwards -  January 31, 2011 - 12:38 pm

    I am English by birth and therefore had the benefit of an English education, thousands of generations of children have learnt English as their native language without too much difficulty. The English language does continue to evolve as technology and cultural influences change the world in which we live, it is not an inflexible language and continues to adopt new words. However, it has stood the test of time and will continue to do so in the future. The one thing I find amusing is the opening paragraph that quotes notable English speakers such as Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin. Speakers yes, but we need to quote Shakespeare, Churchill and Bernard Shaw as native English speakers before writing off the English language.

  212. Savannah -  January 31, 2011 - 12:31 pm

    I, for one, don’t want to see English reformed. As much as I’ve light-heartedly griped about our “damn confusing English pronunciations” in the past, there’s something comforting about the superfluous vowels and misleading consonant combinations that I’ve come to be familiar with over the two decades that I’ve been exposed to my native language.

    It’s always been interesting to me to see from whence English words emerged and how they’ve been modified over the centuries. After all, languages are ever-changing. Who’s to to say, if we reform English now, that we will hold our letters to the same pronunciation in 2200? And what of the various regional dialects? Must they change the way they speak in order to conform with the standard? If not, it is sad to say, the “proper English spelling” will be in violation of their dialect and just as confounding to them as the inconsistencies with the current situation are to us.

    English is, moreso than others, a patchwork language. It may be confusing to some extent, but it reflects our evolution and I’m pretty proud of it. Should we really sacrifice the evidence of our linguistic history for the sake of convenience?

    Is zat vat yu vant?

    (Perhaps we can follow the example of previous civilizations and have the original, scholarly English among native-speakers and a separate simple English to be used in international communication. Just a thought)

  213. Christopher -  January 31, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    I find the concept to be interesting but struggle to believe that 50- 100 years ago anyone would’ve imagined a time when this debate was not solely referencing the logic of the notion and/or a need for official regulation in the matter but also making an argument that it was “too hard to spell” and that the matter was catalyzing iliteracy. That is just ridiculous. All languages have some relevant form of its structure or usage that doesn’t appear to be. The awareness of this relevance, the etymology, the heritage and cultural significance, is simply what separates the educated from the non.. Tle lack of education is the cause for the lack of an education, not phonetics. Which should be fonetix..right? Only if you’re a small child or extremely intelligent ape.

    Congratulations. Let us embrace the Complacent Age in American culture. It’s the one where nobody tries and everyone has an excuse. It’s inevidable we fall, ya know.

  214. Foreigner -  January 31, 2011 - 12:04 pm

    This article is really useful for me, who is a person who can speak Portuguese, French, German, Italian and Spanish. It is really easy to read spelling correctly any word in those language. When I first went to Germany, I read a small book to a 3 years old boy about the adventures of a horse. Although I didn’t understand a word what I was saying because I wasn’t familiar with German, the child understood everything I said due to the fact that I knew how to pronounce the word correctly after studying the first semester of the language.

    I am on my upper intermediate studies of English but I still think it is difficult to write in English. I am constantly with my English dictionary and look up on Dictionary.com to check the spelling. People complain about unification of the spelling because they only think about themselves. We have to think about the new generations who will grow up having the same intricate language to learn.

    I really agree what “Ban” said. I read easily what Arcless said when he changed the spelling. I always read the example that Devil Master poster “lieutment” like French people do. And, by the way, Btgie, did you ask to your foreigner friends if they find English pronunciation easy? Do they speak English without any accent? I doubt it!

    I know that I will never be able to speak English correctly, especially after hearing different pronunciation and spelling for the same word in this website. But, at least, I understand now that the problem is this language, not my stupidity. Besides this website, which is very important to me, I have a bunch of English dictionary and a thesaurus. I am going to take TOEFL and feel desperate and dumb, but I happy to read this comforting article and comments.

    Thank y’all!

  215. Anon -  January 31, 2011 - 12:03 pm

    Why not, if reform is really needed, just create a second “revised” way of writing English. The pronunciation would remain the same, and only the spelling would change. Kind of like lolspeak or txtspeak.

  216. Anon -  January 31, 2011 - 12:00 pm

    If you think English is too complicated to be a world language, then choose a different language to learn! Changing the spelling would create a lot of confusion for everyone who had already learned the previous spelling, as well as detracting from the beauty of the written word (thought this is rather subjective). Current spellings are also very helpful when learning the meaning of the word, since the spelling can often be related to a root word, etc.

  217. Najla -  January 31, 2011 - 11:44 am

    I believe ,as a learner of English, that this case is a result of the characteristics of the language itself. Because many English words are derived from other languages.
    I feel it is easier for English speakers to learn other languages because of that!!
    it would make it easier for me to study historical linguistics.
    Pluse no one can blame me for mispelling;even professors are bad spellers

  218. Matt -  January 31, 2011 - 11:23 am

    Words are hard.

  219. Jerry Wickey -  January 31, 2011 - 10:55 am

    English is now the world wide language of diplomacy, commerce and academia. As such, it deserves simple, unambiguous and well structured rules of grammar and spelling. Something which it does not currently possess. Many variations can be tolerated, but a standard should be adopted and promulgated. A period of adjustment need not be drastic. The rules can be adopted. Academic works, the legal profession, commercial literature and government can make an abrupt change while popular literature lags behind, but eventually catches up.


  220. Meggie -  January 31, 2011 - 10:37 am

    It’s surprising how many misspelled words are in the comments on an article about the confusing English Language

  221. Dr. O. P. Sudrania -  January 31, 2011 - 10:35 am

    It is perhaps true that English is most widely spoken language and its original British version has already been epitomised by American English being popularised by the widespread use of internet and computers.

    One thing that is desperately felt lacking is a full expression of the phonetics in English writings. Another flaw is a mismatch between written and spoken words. One person will pronounce it one way and the other person will pronounce the same word completely differently. This verbal incompatibility must be addressed properly by the scholars to make it more rich in its expression.

    God bless
    Dr. O. P. Sudrania

  222. Winston -  January 31, 2011 - 10:29 am

    While I love English and its multitudes of use, I agree that the language needs a thorough review and update to reflect modern times. For new learners of the language, spelling and pronounciation are great hurdles to bound. Even those who speak English as a mother-tongue have difficulty pronouncing words that seldom work their way into colloquial speech. For instance, I recently looked up the word “submariner” and “kraken” for their respective pronounciations. I didn’t want to come off as an idiot (at least in this manner) when I’m caught mispronouncing.

    It will be a difficult transition should the change ever come. For Canadians, I would liken it to the generation in which we changed from Imperial over to metric. Come think, the change would be tenfold more harrowing than that! As difficult as it would be, I really do hope that it would happen in the near future.

  223. Small Potatoes -  January 31, 2011 - 10:16 am

    Perhaps we should just be using a Semanto-phonetic writing system. This way, each character would represent a word. Each dialect could pronounce it however they want. The obvious downside to this would be that our keyboards and computer systems would have to drastically change. But as far as linguistics are concerned, it would be the fairest approach.

  224. Devil Master -  January 31, 2011 - 10:13 am

    There’s a big problem with giving English a phonetic spelling: there are so many accents to choose from! Which one would you use to build the phonetic spelling?

    Example: the world “lieutenant”. If we go by the standard British pronunciation, it would change to “leftenant”. If we go by the standard American pronunciation, it would become “lootenant”. Which one is right?
    And that’s ignoring the regional pronunciation differences! If you’re from New York, you probably pronounce both “voice” and “verse” as “vois” and it would make sense to you to write both words as “vois” and deduce their meaning from the context, but if you are from Los Angeles, that does not make sense, as you would pronounce them “vois” and “vers”!

  225. The Demon Ira -  January 31, 2011 - 9:56 am

    I agree with Wallace Thomas’.

  226. John -  January 31, 2011 - 9:35 am

    With all due respect to the author, the Romans (latin speaking) conquered England long before the William the Conquerer (in 1066AD). The English language is also referred to as “Anglo-Saxon”. This is in reference to three Norse tribes the Angles, Saxons and Jutes that invaded England before the Romans. The German parts (I’m not sure of this) may have come into the English language after the British monarchy married into the Hapsburg family long after the Normans conquered England.

    Also the phrase “The Normans replaced French as the language of the court”. Is incorrect, Firstly the Normans are a people and French is a language. It is correct to state ” English was replaced with French as the language of the court by the Normans…”

  227. Wallace Thomas -  January 31, 2011 - 9:07 am

    TextSpeak was never meant to replace proper English. It was an efficient way to communicate with others on the internet. Lazy folk gravitated to TextSpeak because it was easier than learning the proper way to communicate.

    Our language has several strange rules and many exceptions to those rules. Ironically, the best way to cope with the idiosyncrasies of the English language is to….READ MORE BOOKS!!!!!!!

  228. Jack -  January 31, 2011 - 8:33 am

    English is not my birth language. I had to learn my English phonetically at age 10.5. Because of the inconsistent rules, I sounded out the letters in Spanish, my first tongue. I think you should leave the spelling alone. The experience I had left an indelible mark on me. Just as I would not want the scars on my left leg (from an accident and surgery) to be removed, I do not want to forget the formative time I spent with English, a now dear and familiar language. Just like Texas. It’s imperfect, but it is the only language we have to assist this cultural melting pot in its evolution into a country.

  229. Marc -  January 31, 2011 - 8:31 am

    You people seriously have “fun” looking up mundane spellings such at “center vs centre” or “receive or recieve”?? You people need to drop your dictionaries and do something constructive – ie: reform nonsensical spellings.

  230. Nathan Hunter -  January 31, 2011 - 8:26 am

    No, because then I’ll have to relearn how to spell things, and I’m already not a very good speller in the first place. Maybe that’s a job for the next generation or two.

  231. Arcless -  January 31, 2011 - 7:54 am

    The start of the Twenty First century is here and the European Community is still struggling to shake off the latest in a series of economic recessions. Poor communication has often been blamed for holding back the expansion of business. The European Parliament has recently commissioned a study into ways of improving efficiency.

    Although English was adopted as the first language of the EC back in 1971, it has always been recognised that English spelling is unnecessarily difficult. This becomes clear when we consider the words ‘chough’, ‘plough’, ‘rough’, ‘through’ and ‘thorough’. Officials in Brussels have therefore agreed that there is a need for a phased programme of changes to iron out these anomalies. A high level committee is being set up to staff these changes.

    After the first year of the programme, the committee is likely to suggest using ‘s’ instead of the soft ‘c’. Sertainly, sivil servants in all sites will resieve this news with joy. The hard ‘c’ will probably be replaced by ‘k’, sinse both letters are pronounsed alike. Not only would this klear up konfusion in the minds of klerikal workers, but one key kould be saved on komputer keyboards.

    Enthusiasm is expekted to grow in the sekond year, when it will be announced that the troublesome ‘ph’ will henseforth be written as ‘f’. This will make words like ‘fotograf’ 20 per sent shorter in print. The move will also please fysiologists and fysisists.

    In the third year, publik akseptance of the new spellings kan be expekted to reash the stage when more komplikated shanges are possible. Goverments will enkourage the removal of double leters, whish have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

    We would al agre that the horible mes of silent ‘e’s’ in the language is disgrasful. Therefor, we kould drop thes and kontinu to read and writ as though nothing had hapend.

    By this tim, it wil be four years sins the skem began and peopl wil be reseptiv to steps sush as replasing ‘th’ by ‘z’. Perhaps zen ze funktion of ‘w’ kould be taken on by ‘v’ vich is, after al, half a ‘w’. Shortly after zis, ze unesesary ‘o’ kould be droped from words kontaining ‘ou’. Similar arangments vud, of kors, be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

    Kontinuing zis proses yer after yer, ve vud eventuli hav a reli sensibl riten styl. After tventi yers, zer vud be no more trublsm difikltis und evrevun vil find it ezi to understand each ozer. It is apropriat zat in 2008, ze yer of ze Uropen Trety, ze komunity shud be takink vun mor stp tovards unifikation.

  232. Nobody -  January 31, 2011 - 7:49 am

    Nobody is perfect, but English isn’t. Deal with it.

  233. The Demon Ira -  January 31, 2011 - 7:47 am

    English Spelling, if reduced to things like “enuf” or “skreeming” would denote our intelligence and make our skills little more then useless.

    The Words, Based off Ancient Latin, were turned this way as a result of years of change. We can not go back and undo our history by reforming it. It would destroy not only our learning systems, but the written work of those that work today.

    Plus, all this is, is TextSpeak. A language used by people too lazy to type or write up the full length of the words, which I find to be insulting to those that use proper grammar, and spelling(Which I do try to do).

    Ira Von Wrath

  234. septembergrrl92 -  January 31, 2011 - 7:45 am

    why are there so many different ways to spell something and different meanings?

  235. jose objio -  January 31, 2011 - 7:34 am

    This helter skelter is precisely what underpins the richness of our English language. The most fun in looking up words are those parts towards the end of the definition (“Usage”, “Etimology ,” as well as the “History & Origin” of the word) which ad immensely to the gist offered by the sometimes dry denotations we first read after the heading. A complicated and always changing world which is further convoluted by the so many different ways its peoples have of looking at it, calls for a no-less sophisticated means of tacking it down, enter stage that glorious Deus Ex Machina which is our English language, a chimeric beast of uncanny biology and prowess.

    Jose Objio

  236. ThatOneDude -  January 31, 2011 - 7:31 am

    quite interesting.

  237. Ban -  January 31, 2011 - 7:29 am

    American illiteracy is bad enough, as it is. The average high school student, in American public schools, has a literacy level close to that of most 8-10 year old European children – simply because American schools have adopted a policy of all but refusing to fail a child (from grade advancement), due to the “fear” that it might have a negative psychological impact. Such actions, by the American educational system, are doing nothing more than producing entire generations are incredibly ignorant people and, thusly, making Americans the laughing stock of the world.

    The greatest evidence of my “claim” can be seen in the most obvious of places – the internet and, more specifically, MMO games: where people who use correct spelling and grammar are often referred to as “spelling/grammar Nazis.” (I’ll refrain from explaining the obvious negative connotations of such terminology.) The scariest part, however, is that those flinging around the term(s) of “spelling/grammar Nazi” are NOT high school-age children, but “grown-ups” – ranging from 20-40 year olds.

    Based upon such information, is it truly any wonder that Americans are viewed (by most Europeans) as “ignorant, uneducated imbeciles” – a view with which I am, unfortunately, forced to agree? Until such a time as the American educational system realizes that they are hurting and hindering society, as a whole, the increase in American laziness and ignorance will continue. Because such laziness and ignorance is actually advocated by American media, such an educational reform is not likely to be embraced until Americans finally feel and embrace the insult, from the rest of the world, and is shocked and forced into such a reform.

    Before anyone decides to try to attack me for being some “snobbish, superiority complexed-educated European,” I will say this – I am an American that spent most of my school years in the deep south (an area that, even most Americans, is claimed to be one of the most ignorant) and “flunked out” of college (mainly because it bored me). My actual “education” has been primarily based upon my own desire to educate myself and truly learn what I can, about a large variety of subjects, while I’m still in this world. Unlike the vast majority of Americans, however, I far prefer to NOT be perceived as “some ignorant hick,” but to lead a life of growth and increasing knowledge. Such a life has afforded me incredible satisfaction, in that I constantly learn new things and expose myself to new ideas – whether I agree with them or not. It has also earned me the term “spelling/grammar Nazi” more times than I could count, but I’ve slowly come to embrace it not as an insult, but a badge of honor – because it reinforces my belief that I am different and stand apart from (and, perhaps, ahead of) the masses.

    Charge me with a superiority complex, as you will, but that does not change the facts. America has likely become the most ignorant country, on this planet, and will continue being viewed as such. Americans have embraced laziness, even with tasks as simple as spelling and grammar, because it’s “easier.” Americans have become the very definition of decadence, even as most Americans would argue that they’re simply “not following the rest of the sheep”…but, in truth, are becoming this very creature that is known for its stupidity. America – the greatest military force, but also the greatest force of ignorance, in the world.

    If you’re an American, PLEASE be insulted by my words. Be insulted and take action to prove me wrong – because, unless and until you do, you’re proving me correct.

    • DCL -  May 29, 2014 - 3:34 pm

      That’s cool, I stayed in college and got my Ph.D. even though school bored me at times (it’s called discipline and it takes mental effort, by the way), all the while continuing to lead a life of growth and increasing knowledge beyond the limits of my academic training. However, because I got my PhD, I am unlocking the molecular mysteries of how heart muscle keeps our bodies running, and I am still learning about the secrets behind the very fabric of not only the entire universe but also life itself.

      I’ll tell you a little secret, my friend. When you accomplish things with your life that are not only worthwhile but genuinely impressive, you don’t feel the need to correct everyone’s spelling to stand apart—because you already do!

    • wejiharfuisnd -  May 30, 2014 - 6:56 pm

      Hey everybody, we’ve got some ignorant hick over here who thinks they’re superior to everyone. They probably are racist and think that whites are better than blacks and that LGBT people are sinful. (P.S. I’m European)

  238. wise.bunny -  January 31, 2011 - 7:28 am

    Enuf and Skreem?
    It would’ve been so weird if we used those instead of the current ones.

  239. Jim Valko -  January 31, 2011 - 7:24 am

    Thanks for the great article. I think it’s too late to “reform” English spelling, especially nowadays it’s not that big a deal because of spellcheckers on computers.

    Another aspect that makes English spelling difficult is that when the printing press first came to America many of the men setting the type blocks to print would spell some words the way THEY thought they should be spelled.

  240. Archil Maisuradze -  January 31, 2011 - 7:23 am

    No, shall not, it should be as it comes, used in a literature, press, everywhere, moreover there should be kind of institution which ensures language is kept as it is, it is heritage, needs to be preserved.

  241. Btjie -  January 31, 2011 - 7:17 am

    Interesting read! Personally I don’t believe in “fixing” the English language – why fix something that isn’t broken? As the article stated, each word, through its strange and seemingly difficult orthography and pronunciation, provides a peek into the history of this wonderful language and the unique circumstances that birthed it. Should we change this, the language we speak now would undoubtedly lose its connections to the countless other languages (as mentioned, French, German, Latin, etc.) that initially contributed to its creation!
    Moreover, all the ESL people I’ve spoken to have never complained about English being particularly difficult to learn, despite the general idea that English is one of the most challenging languages to learn…

    • Hello -  May 30, 2014 - 6:50 pm

      I thoroughly concur.

  242. smoothius -  January 31, 2011 - 7:13 am

    if there is no ‘fixed’ spelling of words then how does spellcheck work exactly? maybe we should let that be the norm. let the various spellcheck programmers band together and determine proper spelling then let them write the ‘universal english speller program’. then, just for fun, we can all continue to spell words in new phonetic combinations to confound those know-it-all computers:)

  243. Brian Lindsay -  January 31, 2011 - 7:11 am

    Yes, sort it out – a bit. But not based on alleged original pronunciation. English still has a terrific role to play as the world’s first or second international language. Trying to make Asians or Africans pronounce words like cockneys – ye’re aving a larf!

  244. buddhados -  January 31, 2011 - 6:51 am

    Hooray for words.

  245. Buddhados -  January 31, 2011 - 6:51 am


  246. liz -  January 31, 2011 - 6:23 am

    I think that one of the most consistent languages, when it comes to spelling, is Spanish. If you know the rules well, you can pronounce every word perfectly, even though it’s the first time you ever read them

  247. Martin Miranda -  January 31, 2011 - 5:40 am

    We need reform because English is a world language and should be simplified by making it consistent in pronunciation and in written form. The update is badly needed to facilitate the learning of this difficult language. It is frustrating to learn words whose pronunciation does not make sense and varies so much. Take for example the words ply and mouth. Put them together and it is Plymouth, which is no where close to the original pronunciation of ply+mouth. The we have wind (noun) and wind (verb). Both are written the same way but have different pronunciation. I know that adults will oppose to the change in spelling, but younger generations will appreciate it. As the language evolves in the way we speak it, we should keep up in the way we write it. We have, to a small measure, updated some of it already. We no longer use the thee and thou and replaced such archaisms with modern equivalents. We just have to be willing to embrace chance for the sake and sanity of future generations and for people abroad that want to learn the language for business and other reasons. Let’s say for example that an American tourist gets sick and is trying to communicate with the hospital personnel what is wrong and the doctors are trying to look up what they think he is saying but what he pronounces is no where near what they are looking for. How much precious time would be wasted?

  248. Valérie -  January 31, 2011 - 5:24 am

    It is true that an awareness of the etymology of our words always makes their spelling easier. Perhaps we simply should teach English in a more enlightened manner and once again encourage the study of Latin and Greek in high school.

    It is the place names of Irish origin that really confound me! “Strachan” pronounced “Stron”?!

    Back to work now.

  249. Ben -  January 31, 2011 - 5:23 am

    first, i guess..

  250. Judith Holley -  January 31, 2011 - 5:22 am

    Having had the benefit of some stellar English teachers in Grade School and High School, I wouldn’t trade the quirks and idiosyncracies of the English language for the convenience of ‘standard’ spelling. As you mention, with respect to pronunciation (pronownsiashun?), whose ‘standard’ would be the standard?!? ‘Fix’ English spelling — what, and give up all the fun? :-)

    • Hello -  May 30, 2014 - 6:47 pm

      You spelled idiosyncrasies without proper orthography.

  251. Jessica -  January 31, 2011 - 5:11 am

    No I don’t think English should try and “fix” the spelling of words. The english language may be complex, but it’s awesome! And ever so intriguing.

  252. SPELLING | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  January 31, 2011 - 5:03 am

    [...] Spell check gives us enough not “enuf” — though phonetically we use it. — Poetic license gives a bit if we don’t abuse it. — There would be no argument coming if the message is not totally “Helter Skelter” — neither of which pass spell check independently — Word Press “Gimme Shelter”. — Y’all amused defining things with literal translation in a world struggling for survival in amassed communication. — If we get some point across that gets through to the most — in almost any situation. — The spelling can be flexible while avoiding “communication toast”. –>>Rupert L.T.Rhyme: helter skelter roast. [...]

  253. JJ Rousseau -  January 31, 2011 - 5:02 am

    Why, Big Brother? We fall into align with freedom of expression and speech and barking is sublime. Arf.Oui?

  254. Annoy -  January 31, 2011 - 4:36 am

    Yawn………Well, this is just a waste of web space on this article. Watching paint dry is more fun then this was……Good sleeping pill if you need to fall asleep….fast lol.

  255. Ada -  January 31, 2011 - 4:32 am


  256. Nazish -  January 31, 2011 - 4:24 am

    there are alot of word that controversial, we need to correct them ASAP

  257. Matthew Hayes -  January 31, 2011 - 3:14 am

    I for one, think that english should remain the same. The reformation of languages can tend to get messy, and also has a tendancy to take away from a words origional imphasis. Also, I think there is a great truth, and benefit in that truth, in the fact that the current spelling of english leaves a traceable path of etymology that helps one get to the foundation of the word. But as for me, the biggest reason I think the spelling of the English language should remain the same is the fact that, languages afford a unique thumbprint on the formation of how a person thinks and therefore the way their mind works from a fundamental point of view. Yes some English language spelling might not make much sence at face value, the current framework of the English language is important, not only from a lingual heritage stand-point, but alsot from the fact that it is an “identity”. I think that using a language that is consturcted in this “non-sensical” way, can help a person to possibly even be smarter. Not neccesarily in comparison to someone of a different tongue, but by the fact that the learn to lingually think in an absract way. Its a valuable tool.

    • Hello -  May 30, 2014 - 6:45 pm

      I can’t help but notice that you spelled a plethora of simple, English words without proper orthography.

    • Kasa -  December 7, 2014 - 11:10 am

      Fortunately there is progress in how we teach English to children (at least in Canada) and this is helping make learning easier for both spoken and written English. I do not know if these techniques are in use in teaching adult ESL learners but I would expect their should be.

      Just briefly, to help give context to these changes, here is how we used to teach English in a very basic outline:

      Phonetically – Here are the sounds the letters make put it together yourself, you can now sound out a lot of words so you can say & spell them, then we can work on the ones where it is a different sound than usual.

      Whole Word – Here is the word this is how you say it & spell it. We will work on drilling these words into you, basically by repetition.

      So what we found with both of these approaches is they really don’t work as effectively at teaching English. So why not? Because they both attempt to teach everything in isolation. Words & letter sounds don’t mean much without some form of context, it doesn’t connect to anything. So a new approach is being used. Please realize that this is a very basic & simple outline.


      Whole – So the educator starts by introducing the new word or words, so using a story with pictures or other multi-literacy strategies. The word is given basic context in its relationship with other words.

      Part – The words are broken down with how they are spelled & pronounced. The words are defined, this provides the words with more context to connect them to other words.

      Whole – The word is used again in sentences, this time directed by the student to allow them to form & test connections and context between new words & words they already know. If they don’t understand how to use and spell the word then more work is done at the ‘Part’ stage (focused on the area of difficulty) and then tested again in the context of the whole.

      Basically the approach is that language (both pronunciation & spelling) do not exist in isolation so they cannot be taught in isolation. By providing context their is a stronger link between what is known & what they are learning. By scaffolding new knowledge it is supported & reinforced by their preexisting knowledge allowing them to form cognitive links between them.

      English can at times be a really context dependent language but you fortunately can convey your meaning as long as you include the critical words (or even just the critical words ‘Hungry”, “Me hungry” both convey the core message of saying or writing “I haven’t eaten in several hours & am feeling hungry”). So while our Latin/French/German/anything else we feel like using spelling (“Want some Arabic?” “Sure why not? I really like a bunch of those words.”) compounded on top of our primarily Germanic grammar (I apologize if that part is wrong), somehow allows for communication at least spoken anyways.

      Funny story I’ve heard from several people who are ESL speakers (from Korea, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India & others from other South East Asian nationalities, I apologize they were work acquaintances), and you don’t have to agree with this, is that English is an easy spoken language to communicate in – even broken English can get your point across, however, written English is a terrible beast which refuses to be slain (so not in those exact words, but English spelling & grammar are much more difficult, almost like it’s a different language).

      Also if you want some fun with spelling rules look up the ‘Dolch Word List’ also referred to as the ‘Sight Words’ – 220 words & 95 nouns. They are called this because they don’t generally follow the rules for pronunciation & are critical for early literacy. You literally do need to be able to see these words & be able to pronounce them correctly, most of them cannot be sounded out and a lot of them rely on their context to establish meaning. Here is a link to a site intended for parents who want to help their children work on their literacy skills.


      As for reforming English spelling… no, I don’t think so. Honestly one of the fun things about English is just how wonky a language it is. Yes it hurts, yes it may change the rules on you without telling you or really explaining why, yes letters may seemingly make a different sounds despite absolutely no change in the word – for example, bow, and yes the ‘Little Brown Book’ of grammar is neither ‘little’ nor ‘brown’ (okay, that last one may be the text from my university English essay writing class), but it has a beauty of its own that I wouldn’t trade for any other spelling in the world.

      So this reply may be a bit more rambling than I intended.

      Remember –

      “English doesn’t borrow from other languages, we follow them into dark alleys knock them down, and go through their pockets looking for loose participles.” (I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t & I forget where I saw it, so I can’t even properly give credit.)

      Oh English, you lovable scamp.


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