Fry's English Delight -Spelling

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Susan Godsland
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Fry's English Delight -Spelling

Post by Susan Godsland » Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:08 pm

Stephen Fry is doing a new series of Fry's English Delight for Radio 4.

Episode 2 was on Spelling:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b039c5cs
The spelling of English has always been a strange. As Stephen Fry puts it "I before e except after c. Weird!"

Stephen asks how our spelling became so irregular, and whether we can do anything to simplify it - with the help of Professor David Crystal who explains how a history of attempted language reform has probably made things steadily worse.

The programme starts with a mysterious postcard from a listener, in an almost unrecognisable form of English writing. Stephen eventually gets a translation from his huge band of Twitter followers. He also finds out how the commercial success of My Fair Lady helped fund a 20th Century attempt at reform, and hears from a current member of the English Spelling Society about how she would "tidy up" English spelling.

What emerges is that there is probably only one set of circumstances in which language can be systematically reformed. Lexicographer Noah Webster knew that his fellow countrymen in the New World would welcome a form of writing that distanced them from their British "oppressor" - and his dictionary, with its simplified spelling, was an instant success.


Sadly, they gave airtime to simplified spelling advocate, Masha Bell, and put a link to her website on the BBC page. Here's a link to her page on sight words :roll:
http://www.englishspellingproblems.co.u ... words.html

John Walker responded to Masha's assertions with a blistering blog post:

Why letters don't 'make' sounds
http://literacyblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013 ... nds_4.html

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