Saturday, June 04, 2011
Saw an article on a spelling bee today and suddenly Ormin came to mind. According to the article:
Newcombe, 12, a Toronto eighth-grader, faltered on the word "sorites," misspelling it psorites...She lost to Sukanya Roy of Pennsylvania, who won on the word "cymotrichous."
Speakers of other languages, and ancient speakers of English itself, would find such an orthography ridiculous. Ormin was one of the first advocates of an orthography that represented English as spoken:
He states that since he dislikes the way that people are mispronouncing English, he will spell words exactly as they are pronounced, and describes a system whereby vowel length and value are indicated unambiguously.
Orm's chief innovation was to employ doubled consonants to show that the preceding vowel is short and single consonants when the vowel is long...His devotion to precise spelling was meticulous; for example, having originally used
and inconsistently for words such as "beon" and "kneow," which had been spelled with in Old English, at line 13,000 he changed his mind and went back to change all "eo" spellings, replacing them solely with "e" alone ("ben" and "knew"), to reflect the pronunciation.
Ormin resurrected today witnessing 21st century English would probably either utterly despair of what has become of the language he wrote and spoke, or go to Iceland.