Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

English Spelling in Need of Overhaul

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

English Spelling in Need of Overhaul

Article excerpt

Today, Sam will plow through the city's rough boroughs in search of artisanal cookie dough, even though he ought to stay home to nurse his cough.

What's wrong with that picture? Seven words containing "ough," different pronunciations. Oo, uhff, oh, oh, oh, aww, aww. Isn't English fun?

A group of experts in the United Kingdom and United States believes that the illogical spelling in the English language is more than just annoying for those who have to memorize the rules. They propose an International English Spelling Congress to implement a spelling system that makes more sense.

"In some languages like Finnish, Spanish and Italian, there is a strong correlation between the written and spoken word," said Stephen Linstead, head of the English Spelling Society. "English is on the entirely other side of the spectrum."

Mr. Linstead said U.K. and U.S. English have a one-two punch of incongruity: Words with the same letter groupings are pronounced differently, and the same sound can be spelled differently, depending on the word. Linguistic experts from around the world would propose a list of new spellings to correct problematic word groups - see: "ough" - and the congress would select an alternative spelling system.

The effort is not simply to iron out kinks in the language. …

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