There are myriad examples of articles and videos of people expressing their frustration with the discrepancy between the way English words are spelled and pronounced. If ‘to’ is pronounced as /to͞o/, and ‘do’ is pronounced as /do͞o/, then shouldn’t ‘go’ be pronounced as /go͞o/? If we don’t pronounce ‘p’ in ‘pneumonia’, why include it in its spelling? What’s letter ‘w’ doing in ‘answer’? The list is endless.
Well, lo and behold, here’s a 15-year plan to improve English spelling:
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter c would be dropped to be replased either by k or s, and likewise x would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which c would be retained would be the ch formation, which will be dealt with later.
Year 2 might reform w spelling, so that which and one would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish y replasing it with i and Iear 4 might fiks the g/j anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.
Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez c, y and x — bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez — tu riplais ch, sh, and th rispektivli. Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
Hyperbole aside, I think this satirical passage does successfully wag a finger at the futility of imposing rules and restrictions on a language… of trying to “purify” it. Language is like an ever-flowing river. It has to keep evolving, and adapting. The fact that English has embraced words from many other languages is perhaps one of the main reasons why it is so successful. Yes, there are more exceptions than there are rules, it’s a bitch to spell, and is indeed a very phunny language (video link). But it’s here to stay. We must make our peace with it.
PS: The above passage is attributed to Mark Twain.
PPS: This reminded me of an article written by Utpal Dutt regarding the supposed purification of Hindi language on Doordarshan TV back in the 80′s. I posted an excerpt here.