Castillian, Catalan, Aragonese, and Arabic all have voiced and unvoiced "th". Greek has the unvoiced - i'm not sure whether delta in some positions may become voiced, as D does in the Iberian languages i listed.
I think we should bring back the Thorn letter in English. All our computers can do it so why not?
English?? Logical?? Heheheh, you're cute.
Really, NO language is ever 100% logical, as it's used and modified by man. A language continues to live and thus adapts and change -- even if a language HAD a rhyme or reason (English's spelling, pronunciation elements in Chinese) those become frozen in time. Conlangs have logic and that's WHY they differ from natural languages, as these languages haven't had the "human error erosion" of other languages.
You're a freak? I've been writing about this shit nearly every week for three years. :: laugh ::
Uniquely difficult? Hah! Take that Japanese!
You and my partner have unusual overlap. He got his PhD in Atmospheric Physics at UC Boulder and turned into a software developer. One of his major passions is linguistics.
I wonder what would happen if you met (I wouldn't be able to keep up with the conversations and would probably go off and doodle or try to interject with topics I can handle.)
I love morpheme! Good thing it's a controlled substance, or I'd be screwed.
Some ideas above illustrate why I'm uncomfortable with phonics as a way to teach reading. A written word is almost never translated to sound before I understand its meaning, and it's a very, very common thing to know a word intimately and have never heard it out loud.
It seems to me that what really happens when we learn to read is that we learn a new language. We have to map spoken English to written English, of course, just as you have to map (my only experience in a foreign language) Spanish to English. But that's when you start. When you're really fluent in Spanish, you speak the Spanish and have to take a moment to figure out what the words would be in English. In other words, I don't figure out the sentence in English and then translate it--it's much better to figure it out in Spanish and only translate it back to English if I need it to. That's because eventually the Spanish words map to concepts, not to English words.
So I think the same thing happens with writing. Perhaps you have to start out mapping written to spoken English, but eventually the symbols map to concepts, not to sounds. Until you get there, you're not fluent in written English.
But I can't deny that Z-man (3 years old) is reading lots and lots of words using phonics, and I'm not sure if there's really a better way to start him out with familiarity. I could show him objects or actions and the written word, without introducing the phonic components. But that would be like learning Spanish with no reference to equivalent English words.
However, I think most ESL classes with multiple languages do exactly that--they teach English without reference to the various native languages. So I don't know exactly how it would work, but I often wonder if some kind of direct concept-to-written-word mapping would be a better teaching tool than phonics. Yet I don't care to spend my free time designing such a system, so there you go.
This is a very interesting comment, and I have been unable to generate a coherent repsonse. We should talk about it in person sometime. Where we can use words instead of weird collections of symbols that represent words... ;)
1. I could read about you talking about this for my whole life.
2. A book you need to read is Reading the OED. Now.
3. I'm down on America for going against the rest of the world and not adopting metric, but I'm of the exact opposite mind with English and all its eccentricities. Word nerd.
Reading the OED?
Oho. That sounds like a good one after Know-It-All and Secret Life of Words. Thanks!
I've read Know-It-All and it's amazing. I know not of Secret Life! Please elucidate!
Secret Life Of Words, The
How English Became English
September 2008 Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN 978-0-374-25410-0 (alk. paper)
I can't really give a review yet, as I've just begun reading it, but I'm really liking it so far. Lots of cool info on word origins, language migration, how English cheerfully appropriates terms, and how the flexibility of English facilitates this. There are some good reviews on Amazon.
Edited at 2008-10-12 05:25 pm (UTC)
It actually sounds a little like Bryson's Made in America, which I heartily loved. Thank you!
I've just been reading The Secret Life of Words (fizzygeek
saw it at a bookstore and thought I'd like it – she was right), and it touches on a lot of these points. It's a good read (so far, anyway). Wanna borrow it when I'm done?
I would say yes, but it's been ages since I made dent in my To Be Read pile, and I would feel guilty just letting it sit there unloved...
I've never studied linguistics but I have read a lot of random stuff written in older versions of English. :-)
I'm reasonably certain that the "invention" of standardized spelling in the English language has contributed to some interesting problems. The usual push of languages to fragment into dialects has somewhat been halted. (Radio and TV, arguably, are another reason.) We also suffer from taking the same roman alphabet (with very minor variations in the letters the romans actually used) and have two thousand odd years of adapting it to languages in different ways.
W as a vowel in Welsh, for example. :-)
Reading "English" thus become an exercise in literary history. Is this word greek, latin or germanic based? Is it a word adopted from something else completely different? Given its root, can you figure out what the other forms should be? Given the root can you guess how the components should be pronounced?
We've thus turned a somewhat phonetic alphabet and made its words into something that are only slightly better than character based languages. Sure, you can guess at how something is pronounced but you'd be just as wrong as you'd be right if you don't have enough history.