Also on this page see Nue Speling version
On other pages see Advantages 1, 2, 3.
ADVANTAGES OF A RATIONAL SPELLING.
4. ENGLISH AS THE LANGUAGE OF UNIVERSAL INTERCOURSE.
ALL who love our language and realize the responsibilities of our Empire will agree that every British citizen should be able to speak English. That is far from being the case at present.
To take India alone, there are millions who do not know English. If they can read at all, they depend for their information about the Empire on the native press, which often misleads them, it may be unconsciously. It is our duty to educate these millions; the key to their education is the English language. We place great difficulties in their way by our irregular spelling. If it were reasonable they could almost teach themselves.
It is a barrier hard to surmount for them, for the French Canadians, for the Afrikaans speakers of South Africa, and many others of our fellow-subjects whose mother tongue is not English.
A common language is a powerful bond. Is it wise for us to retain our spelling, which our fellow-subjects tell us is such a great obstacle to the general acquisition of our language?
In other respects it is so admirable. The pronunciation, apart from the spelling, is easily acquired. It presents more difficulty to some nations than to others, but there are foreigners all over the world who speak it clearly and without a disturbing accent.
The grammar is very simple - far less complicated than that of French or German, or perhaps any other language.
The vocabulary is remarkably rich; in a unique way it is drawn on the one hand from Teutonic sources, on the other from French and Latin.
A knowledge of English opens up a splendid literature.
Is it surprising that such a language should prove attractive to foreigners? Many find it useful to know English for commercial reasons. There are others who learn it from no motive of direct gain. Their number is steadily increasing; but they all tell the same story of the great difficulties presented by the spelling. They have overcome them, but how many are prevented from learning English by this serious obstacle?
It is not too much to say that if we had had rational spelling sixty or seventy years ago, the artificially constructed languages would have had little success. Take even the most ingenious of them: they may be a little simpler in grammar, and perhaps in pronunciation, but their vocabulary cannot compare with that of English, and in literature they offer but little. The only respect in which they are really superior is in the spelling.
It is sometimes urged that no existing language would ever be adopted for universal use, because of national jealousies, and that we must therefore have recourse to a neutral - that is, an artificial -language. Doubtless, any attempt to enforce the adoption of English as the language of international communication would meet with opposition; but there would be no need to enforce it. If it is rationally spelt, it will be so obviously the easiest language to learn, and at the same time the most attractive owing to its commercial value and its literary treasures, that we can trust to its becoming the recognized medium of international communication through its intrinsic merits and without propaganda. On a restricted scale that is happening now; with a good spelling, it would proceed far more rapidly.
What a splendid prospect, that of a world in which all men can speak our tongue! What a vast audience for the writers and the speakers who use our splendid language! What a great step towards the brotherhood of man!
First published, November, 1913.
Re-issued, October, 1941.
ADVANTAGES OF A RATIONAL SPELLING.
4. INGLISH AZ DHE LANGGWEJ OV UË NIVURSAL INTERKORS.
AUL huu luv our langgwej and realiez dhe responsibilitiz ov our Empier wil agree dhat evry British sitizen shood be aebl to speek Inglish. Dhat iz far from being dhe kaes at prezent.
To taek Indya aloen, dhaer ar milyonz huu duu not noe Inglish. If dhae kan reed at aul, dhae depend for dhaer informaeshon about dhe Empier on dhe naetiv pres, which ofen misleedz dhem, it mae be unkonshusly. It iz our duety to eduekaet dheez milyonz; dhe kee to dhaer eduekaeshon iz dhe lnglish langgwej. We plaes graet difikultiz in dhaer wae bie our ireguelar speling. If it wer reezonabl, dhae kood aulmoest teech dhemselvz.
It iz a barryer hard to sermount for dhem, for dhe French Kanaedyanz, for dhe Afrikaans speekerz ov South Afrika, and meny udherz ov our feloe-subjekts huuz mudher tung iz not Inglish.
A komon langgwej iz a pourfool bond. Iz it wiez for us to retaen our speling, which our feloe-subjekts tel us iz such a graet obstakl to dhe jeneral akwizishon ov our langgwej?
In udher respekts it iz soe admirabl. Dhe pronunsyaeshon, apart from dhe speling, iz eezily akwierd. It prezents mor difikulty to sum naeshonz dhan to udherz, but dhaer ar forrenerz aul oever dhe wurld huu speek it kleerly and widhout a disturbing aksent.
Dhe gramar iz very simpl - far les komplikaeted dhan dhat ov French or Jurman, or perhaps eny udher langgwej.
Dhe vokabuelary iz remarkably rich; in a ueneek wae it iz draun on dhe wun hand from Tuetonik sorsez, on dhe udher from French and Latin.
A nolej ov Inglish oepenz up a splendid literatuer.
Iz it serpriezing dhat such a langgwei shood pruuv atraktiv to forrenerz? Meny fiend it uesfool to noe Inglish for komurshal reezonz. Dhaer ar udherz huu lurn it from noe moetiv ov direkt gaen. Dhaer number iz stedily inkreesing; but dhae aul tel dhe saem story ov dhe graet difikultiz presented bie dhe speling. Dhae hav oeverkum dhem; but hou meny ar prevented from lurning Inglish bie dhis seeryus obstakl?
It iz not tuu much to sae dhat if we had had rashonal speling siksty or seventy yeerz agoe, dhe artifishaly konstrukted langgwejez wood hav had litl sukses. Taek eeven dhe moest injeenyus ov dhem: dhae mae be a litl simpler in gramar, and perhaps in pronunsyaeshon, but dhaer vokabuelary kanot kompaer widh dhat ov Inglish, and in literatuer dhae ofer but litl. Dhe oenly respekt in which dhae ar realy suepeeryor iz dhe speling.
It iz sumtiemz urjd dhat noe egzisting langgwej wood ever be adopted for uenivursal ues, bekauz ov nashonal jelusiz, and dhat we must dhaerfor hav rekors to a nuetral - dhat iz, an artifishal - langgwej. Doutles, eny atempt to enfors dhe adopshon ov Inglish az dhe langgwej ov internashonal komuenikaeshon wood meet widh opozishon; but dhaer wood be noe need to enfors it. If it iz rashonaly spelt, it wil be soe obvyusly dhe eezyest langgwej to lurn, and at dhe saem tiem dhe moest atraktiv oïng to its komurshal value and its literary trezherz, dhat we kan trust to its bekuming dhe rekogniezd meedyum ov internashonal komuenikaeshon thruu its intrinsic merits and widhout propaganda. On a restricted skael dhat iz hapening nou; widh a good speling, it wood proseed far mor rapidly.
Whot a splendid prospekt, dhat ov a wurld in which aul men kan speek our tung! Whot a vaast audyens for dhe rieterz and speekerz huu uez our splendid langgwej! Whot a graet step towordz dhe brudherhood ov man!
Furst Publisht, November, 1913.
Reisued, Oktoeber, 1941.
MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN AT THE PITMAN PRESS, BATH.
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On other pages see Advantages 1, 2, 3.