Almost everyone agrees that the English spelling system is
extremely difficult and illogical. (If you doubt this statement,
see the following.) It is
possible to take this extremely seriously, and most spelling reformers
do. Most discussions of the subject are filled with gloomy
statistics on the costs of illiteracy and the horrors of
dyslexia. The last thing I want to do is deny the fact that there
are indeed costs to the present orthography, but I'm a hobbyist, not a
reformer. I believe it is possible to have fun trying to sensibly
rationalize English spelling, and that's why I do it, and why I follow
the efforts of others to do the same. If it happens to improve
the world, I don't object, but that's not my point.
Look at it this way. Perhaps, like me, when you were
young, you were interested in secret codes. The idea of scrambled
yet meaningful text, of writing "Meapolu emtearn etthygd" instead of
"Meet me at the playground", yet still being understood by those in on
the secret, has a strong
appeal, never mind the practical applications. Spelling reform is
the opposite of secret codes. It's trying to find a better way to
encode our language so it will be easier, not harder, for everyone to
understand. Sometimes, the results are strange - in one of my own
spelling systems, "You should eat more cheese" is written as "Yu xood
eet mor ceez." The strangeness can be part of the fun,
with secret codes.
The name of my site, wyrdplay.org, is a reflection of my desire to, first and foremost, have fun. It's fun to play with words, and, yes, sometimes the results can be wyrd indeed. My primary goal is that vistors here should enjoy themselves. Any education or other personal improvement that results is entirely secondary.
If you are interested in English spelling reform, you should check out the Yahoo! Saundspel group. This is an informal forum on all aspects of English spelling reform. Newcomers are welcome. Lurkers are welcome too, so feel free to drop by and just listen - if you have nothing to say for a while, no one will pressure you to say it.
Here is a brief description of the discussions in Saundspel by one of the "regulars", Robert McGehee:
you look at the kinds of subjects that most people in this
group post about you will see that they fall into a few basic
categories: There are articles dealing with the impact
orthography on literacy, there are commentaries on various linguistic
issues relating to pronunciation, and then the balance of the
are devoted to people either critiquing or defending the merits of a
particular proposed regularised orthography. If you follow the
postings in this group for a month or so you will begin to see that a
lot of the same issues keep getting rehashed again and again. I
think that we are merely going in circles, since a lot of us are
learning new things that we had not known before, but at the same time
there is a certain amount of redundancy in these postings, as is normal
for the postings in most groups on the web.
One of the advantages of
belonging to the Saundspel group is access to the Saundspel Files
collection. This collection includes text in and about a large
number of reformed orthographies; devotees of spelling reform can find
information here that I've seen nowhere else. The problem is that
the Saundspel Files collection is extremely cluttered and
disorganized. It's often hard to find what you're looking
for. Also, because files have been contributed at different
stages of the development of a spelling system, you will sometimes find
documents on the same system which contradict each other, and no
obvious way to tell which one to believe.
One of the reasons I set up
wyrdplay.org was to provide a better organized and maintained
file collection than Saundspel, and one which could be accessed without
having to "join" anything. I hope to include in my collection the
most interesting of the Saundspel files, subject to getting permission
from their authors.
Spelling reform "believers" may be wondering why this page
is written in illogical traditional spelling (tradspell or TS) instead
of something sensible.
This is a reasonable question. My response is that, first, this
site is addressed to newcomers to the subject of spelling reform as
well as to the old hands. Let's face it - many of the most
interesting spelling systems are not instantly accessible.
Additionally, once you start to use a reformed spelling, you discover
that people have a wide variety of opinions about them. One man's
ideal system is another man's gibberish. (Or possibly, ".wun manz
YdIL sistM iz 3nuDR manz
jibRiX".) This site offers a variety of texts transcribed
in a number of systems, and I certainly hope that visitors will have a
look at some of them, but they're more likely to get that far if I
don't tax their patience at the start.
To comment on this page,
e-mail Alan at wyrdplay.org