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English may have reached a pinnacle of formalism and stability in the
mid-19th century, when "Latin" rules of grammar and rhetoric prevailed
and the desire for "scientific" order led to a proliferation of
dictionaries. To appear to be well-educated, one had to follow the
strict rules of hand writing, English grammar, English rhetoric, English
spelling, and classical erudition.
At the same time, technology and social change broadcast this standard
across the world and cemented it into our cultural inheritance. For that
reason, we can add to it but we can *not* shift its direction. The
famous men who tried to simplify English did so based on the 19th
century conviction that the world can be perfected. Tain't so.
Technology, in fact, is not nearly perfect. Things work, but even a
moment's thought would show you how they could be better. Changing them
is not so easy. One is stuck with the interdependency of things, as well
as their history. It is like software: change and "perfection" in
popular software gradually slows to a crawl, dragged down by the
customer base and the interactions with the OS and other programs.
My favorite example of this is the typewriter keyboard. The so-called
"QWERTY" arrangement overcame jamming in early typewriters that couldn't
handle the speed of the typist's fingers. Though more modern and vastly
more rational systems like Dvorak emerged, they can't replace QWERTY.
jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.
From: techwr-l-bounces+jmalin=tuvox -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+jmalin=tuvox -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of Janice Gelb
Sent: Wednesday, July 05, 2006 6:15 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Push for Simpler Spelling
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