The European Commission has announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU, rather than German, which was the other contender. Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had room for improvement and has therefore accepted a five-year phasing in of “Euro-English”.
In the first year, the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”, making words like “fotograf” 20% shorter. Americans will feel vindicated when voiced “s” is finally spelt as it soundz – “z”.
There will be growing public enthuziazm in the second year, when “s” or “sh” will replase the soft “c”. Sertainly, sivil servants will appreshiate this. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of the “k”, which should klear up some konfusion. “ch” will be replased with “tsh”, finally freeing up the letter “c” for use az the unstressed vowel known az a “schwa” and/or the long “er” sound, whenever a writer forgets traditional spelling. The various “ion” noun endingz will appear as “shcn”. This addishcnal vowel letter will help tranzliterate the 16 vowel soundz of English that have alwayz been an impediment to easy spelling. Kristshcnz will tshime their tshurtsh bells in selebration of this modifckashcn and poor-spellers, espeshially Australianz and New Zealanderz, will be able to write akademik vokabulcry with more konfcdcnce.
In the third year, publik akseptcnse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reatsh the stage where more komplikated tshangez are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letterz, which have been such a detercnt to akurate speling, as wel as the horible mes of the silent “e”, except when folowed by the “vowel + konscnant + e” pronusiashcn rule, az in “better males”. Theze redukshcnz wil not aply if it rezults in a lexikal, or non-gramar word of les than thre letterz, in order to prezerv the litle-known English speling rule that al ‘meaning’ wordz hav thre or mor letterz, and only funkshcn wordz hav les than thre letterz. Therfor the problematik “axe/ax” (UK/US) and “oxe/ox” (UK/US) ncsesitates the use of “ks” in plase of “x”, making speling eksepshcnly akseptcbl. This potenshcly frez up the letter “x” for use az another vowel sound.
In the fourth year, SR1 (Speling Reform 1), which had som sukses in Australia in the 1970z and 80z, will gradualy render the teatshing of foniks obsolete. First of al, the short /e/ sound is alwayz to be spelt with “e”, for ekzampl
The following short poem is an example of SR1:
By the fifth year, after SR1 haz been thoroly thaut-out and peopl are caut up in the lafter al this haz braut about, they aut to be reseptiv enuf to steps such az replasing “th” with “z”, and “w” with “v”.
During ze siksth year, ze unescsary “o” kan be dropped from vords kontaining “ou” and similar tshanges vuld of kors be aplied to ozer kombinashcns of letterz. After ze seventh year, ve vil hav a realy sensibl written styl. Zer vil be no mor trublz or difikulties and everyvon vil find it eazy to understand eatsh ozer. ZE DREAM VIL FINALY KOM TRU!
The above is a modified version of a joke circulating the Internet – especially around Europe – whose source is unknown (to me, at least) despite some efforts to find out. The modifications are based on my studies in English linguistics (Aston University, Master of Science in Education).
Coming up with spelling reforms is all very well; many have done it before. But the uptake has been unimpressive, as the above joke implies; radical change is unacceptable. Webster has probably had the most significant success with his dictionary in the U.S.A. Perhaps the mistake would-be spelling reformers have been making is to try to impose order, rather than ‘going with the flow’ of change, which is the nature of a living language, such as English. All languages change, ultimately, but the process is slow and evolutionary. See SPELLING CHANGE under Sponsored Activities.