Five errors need correcting in this book. First, almost every other modern language, exept English, has had some degree of successful change, major or minor, that updated its writing system (Writing systems and how they change, Yule, in press). The fights are often long and continuing, but the changes enable mor pepl to read and rite. Remember that the Arabic number sistem, essential for modern sience, took 500 years to be acsepted over the Latin numerals in some parts of Europe!
Second, Simon Horabin confuses phonetic (sounds of speech) and phonemic (sounds as represented in a ritten language). The word DOG (phonemic spelling) is pronounced meny diffrent ways in spoken English, from dawg to dahg (phonetic pronunciations), but we all think we are saying DOG.
Third,” in order to preserve the richness, subtlety and history of our language” Horabin claims that we must keep spelling unchanged. Our spelling has continued to change since Samuel Johnson, e.g. – e.g. horror and economic for horrour and oeconomick.) but change is stopped by our Spelling Checker. Most literat peple cannot spell without a Spelling Checker. Most peple, however well educated, cannot spell 16 common words which have surplus letters. (http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/spelling.htm#word)
If spelling checkers changed, we would change our spelling too.
4. Dictionries and other books tell us the
history of our language. Updating spelling does not uproot our culture. Experiment and see. http://home.vicnet.net.au/ozideas/spelling.htm an index page about spelling
5. Noam Chomsky’s statement that English spelling ‘comes remarkably close to being . . .an optimal system’ was made in one regard only. I have examind this one regard and even then there are caveats. (Carol wrote in the Harvard Educational Review that it enabled one to see the relationship of PRODIGAL and PRODIGIOUS.) I have a letter (not email) from Noam Chomsky himself in which he regrets the wide misuse of his statement, and says he is sympathetic to ideas of spelling reform, properly conducted.
http://home.vicnet.net.au/ozideas/writsys.htm – Other writing systems of the world, their advantages and disadvantages, and how many have been reformed
http://home.vicnet.net.au/ozideas/sprules1p.htm English spelling rules on one page