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Jay Lake
Date: 2007-03-17 13:09
Subject: Carrier Syllabics and the fine art of reading
Security: Public
Tags:cool, language, weird
Language Log on the fine art of reading, and why the difficulty can be so profoundly artificial.
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russ: esperanto-flago
User: goulo
Date: 2007-03-17 22:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, yeah, of course, duh. :) English's spelling is ridiculous compared to most languages. Are there really many English speakers who don't know this? I guess so, if most English speakers haven't really learned other languages.

Most national languages have inconsistencies in spelling/pronunciation, due to the speakers essentially being unaware of and not caring about the issue, but English takes it to a whole 'nother level of pointless ridiculousness. In Polish you have a few minor issues like "h" and "ch" sounding the same, "u" and "ó" sounding the same, and "ę" sounding kind of like "e" if it is at the end of a word. These are trivial compared to the unique insanity of English spelling.

At the other extreme is Esperanto, which is quite regular and easy to spell/pronounce, by design and because its community consciously cares about the issue.
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User: bodandra
Date: 2007-03-17 22:36 (UTC)
Subject: Ya now wut's funny?
When I was trying to teach Spanish at University, my students simply refused to understand how Spanish, Italian, and French are always so easy to pronounce - they kept trying to second-guess pronunciations (always for the bad)
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Sue Burke
User: mount_oregano
Date: 2007-03-18 11:54 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Ya now wut's funny?
Nonetheless, Spaniards can't spell. I live in Spain, and last week a major political cartoonist had to apologize for spelling "obispo" as "ovispo." And that's someone whose work gets proofread. Among ordinary Spaniards, the spelling and grammar is laughably bad.

But U.S. schools are on the whole actually better than Spanish schools, though it may be hard to believe. Northern Europe has great schools, but southern Europe can be like Alabama.

One advantage, though, with irregular spelling is that English can differentiate between words that sound alike but have different meanings, at least in writing. "Bare" is not "bear." It's a tough system to master, but it has its rewards.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2007-03-18 05:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's pretty well known in the special ed community that phonemic complexity is a major issue in learning to read. While English is one of the most complex language when it comes to phonemic awareness, Italian is one of the least complex.

Supposedly, the occurrence of specific learning disabilities in the area of decoding is significantly lower in Italy than it is in the US.
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