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 the hard “c” will be dropped in favour of the “k”, which should klear up some konfusion. Then “s” or “sh” will replase the soft “c”. Sertainly, sivil servants will appreshiate this.
In the third year, the main impediment to fonetik spelling in English will be tackled; the limited number of vowel letterz for the 16 vowelz soundz. Therefore, “ch” will be replased with “tsh” (similar to the International Phonetic Alphabet symbol), finally freeing up the letter “c” for use az the high-frequency unstressed vowel known az a “schwa” and/or the long “er” sound. This need only be uzed when a writer forgets traditional spelling. The various “ion” noun endingz will appear as “shcn”. Az a vowel, the letter ‘c’ will help tranzliterate the 16 vowel soundz of English that have alwayz been an impediment to eazy spelling. Kristshcnz will tshime their tshurtsh bellz in selebraschcn of this modifckashcn and poor-spellerz, espeshially Australianz and New Zealanderz, will be able to write akademik vokabulcry with more konfcdcnse.
In the forth 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” (ax →aks, ox→oks), making speling eksepshcnly akseptcbl. This potenshcly frez up the letter “x” for use az another vowel sound.
In the fifth 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 siksth year, after SR1 haz been thoroly adopted, people wil hav becom konfidcnt speling tshange-makerz, able to deside how to aply thez simple rulez. In the 18th sentury, artisokrats spelt just however they pleazed. Now, everyone wil develop kreativ solushcns for strange vowel tranzliterashcns such as the ‘ough’ in ‘though’ and ‘enough’, and ‘oub’ in ‘doubt’, by perhaps droping the unescscry ‘gh’ and ‘b’, and no dout ‘enough’ wi be ‘enuf’ . The most popular solushcns wil prevail. Note also, that no diakritiks (markerz above letterz) hav been introdused, honoring the early English spellerz who devized the kurent system that uzez kompleks kombinashcns of vowel and konsonant letterz to reprezent the 16 vowel soundz of English.
The above is my version of a joke circulating the Internet – especially around Europe – whose source is unknown (to me, at least) despite some efforts to find out. Some jokes contain the kernel of a seriously good idea, such as when the phrase “His Majesty’s Opposition” was first used in jest in the English parliament to much amusement. The above is such an idea, and therefore I have modified it based on my 30 year career 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 modified joke above implies; radical change is unacceptable. Webster has probably had the most significant success with his dictionary in the U.S.A. Perhaps the mistake 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.