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A funny quote about English spelling Options
coag
Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2019 11:27:54 AM

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"It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word!
That quote, ascribed to Andrew Jackson, might have been the motto of early English spelling."
Source: Merriam-Webster

This quote brightened my day.

I searched the Internet to see who Andrew Jackson was. I had known there was an American president Jackson but why would an American president comment English spelling-- I would expect him to comment politics and international affairs.

I don't know if it's true but this is what I found.

When Harvard granted an LL.D. to Andrew Jackson in 1833, John Quincy Adams boycotted the graduation ceremonies, calling Jackson ''a barbarian who could not write a sentence of grammar.'' To which Jackson replied: ''It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word.''
(Jackson on Spelling, Kennedy on Yale)
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2019 12:51:26 PM

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Oi fink its grate ser lang ass yer cun si wots ment!


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2019 1:00:06 PM
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What amused me was the quote by Merriam-Webster - whom many people look to as being knowledgable about the English language.

"That quote, ascribed to Andrew Jackson, might have been the motto of early English spelling."

I actually did let go a great bark of laughter at that statement - its funny on about three different levels! (Though rather sad that Merriam-Webster let it go through!)
lazarius
Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2019 1:38:18 PM

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Romany wrote:
Though rather sad that Merriam-Webster let it go through!

English spelling is so queer that it would be OK to let people be relaxed about it. Anyway most native speakers make mistakes.


Не надо отчаиваться, товарищ.
Orson Burleigh
Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2019 3:31:43 PM

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lazarius wrote:
Romany wrote:
Though rather sad that Merriam-Webster let it go through!

English spelling is so queer that it would be OK to let people be relaxed about it. Anyway most native speakers make mistakes.


It is appropriate to snicker a bit while fighting the impulse to disregard the views of writers who use grocer's apostrophes or who can't be bothered to differentiate between the uses and meanings of you're/your/yore or they're/their/there.

Think That having been said, it must be admitted that the wild disparities of pronunciation among varieties of English, combined with the utilization of the hopelessly inadequate vowel-poor latin alphabet, ought to have made the development and existence of orthodox English Orthography wildly improbable.

FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2019 4:25:10 PM

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I didn't know Andrew Jackson was so damned witty. That retort was, and is, funny! Pretty good for a barbarian.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
L.Rai
Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 4:14:23 AM

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y lern 2 spll when we text and spll lk this N E way, LOL Brick wall

And we wonder why no one under the age of 50 can spell....hmmm.

"Your life matters more than you will ever know, so live it well"
sufall
Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 9:10:09 AM

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Romany wrote:

What amused me was the quote by Merriam-Webster - whom many people look to as being knowledgable about the English language.

"That quote, ascribed to Andrew Jackson, might have been the motto of early English spelling."

I actually did let go a great bark of laughter at that statement - its funny on about three different levels! (Though rather sad that Merriam-Webster let it go through!)


Dear Romany,

Can you please explain what exactly amused you? Being a non-native speaker, I fail to see what is incorrect in the quote - even after 40 years of learning and using English...

Thank you in advance.

P.S. Maybe I should have started a new topic in the grammar section, but I'm new in posting on the forum and have no idea how to use a quote from one topic to start a new one, and also not sure if that is even possible.

Romany
Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 9:45:56 AM
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I think you guys have misunderstood. The quoted sentence by Mariam-Webster was what amused me - nothing to do with Jackson or spelling.

Yes, re English spelling - it IS confusing! But, for those who learn about the history of the English language; the history of England and it's influences; and about Greek, Roman and Early French, etc. these "mad" spelling make sense and you begin to understand what a word means simply by looking at it closely. If the spelling is "simplified" we lose that ability. Cut out the parts of the word that aren't strictly phonetic and you no longer have a point of reference to see how the word is composed and, thus, what it means. Or, more importantly, how to use it for the purpose it was intended to serve.

Lazarius is right that the average person wouldn't care. As long as they can be understood by other people, and can write and read texts, the newspapers etc. that's all they need the language for.

But for those whose careers and livliehood depend on the accurate and most effective use of language - writers, scholars, educaters, communicators, - the way the word is spelt is extremely important and valuable. Being able to use a word for the purposes it was intended is a skill necessary to all those who communicate publicly - playwrights,lecturers, politicians, journalists, actors, translaters, leaders: - the millions of people whose knowledge of and use of English either makes or breaks them - to them it does matter.

(And to all the other millions of proof-readers, agents, Editors who make their living correcting other people's mistakes!Dancing )
towan52
Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 9:48:06 AM

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L.Rai wrote:
y lern 2 spll when we text and spll lk this N E way, LOL Brick wall

And we wonder why no one under the age of 50 can spell....hmmm.


Captain Sphincter Blossom is over 70, and he can't spell for toffees!

Voldermort for Trump 2020
BobShilling
Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 2:31:55 PM
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Romany wrote:
But, for those who learn about the history of the English language; the history of England and it's influences; and about Greek, Roman and Early French, etc. these "mad" spelling make sense


(Sigh!)
thar
Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 3:41:20 PM

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I know this is originally about how many ways you can spell the same word, but English does take advantage of how 'fluid' its orthography is.

I mean, any other language would have one word - rite. And another, site.
But English gets to have rite and write and right and wright. And site and sight and cite and, if you feel generous, -cyte. Four for the price of one, each with different meanings.
I mean, Icelandic is phonetic, and we only have veður. But English sneakily manages to have weather and whether and wether. I have to say, efficient use of a limited resource!


But sometimes it just makes things confusing - For instance I know what you call a stone-topped burial - a kist burial. Like kissed. But if you want a hard k why go and spell it as a cist burial, like sissed/cyst? Making up the rules as you go along is not fair! Whistle
BobShilling
Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 6:40:31 PM
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thar wrote:
Making up the rules as you go along is not fair!


eye/I/aye(/sigh/height/my/bye) agree with yew/U/ewe(/Hugh/due/queue/few/ lieu/view
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2019 7:04:07 AM

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If you see something like this do you say it's barbecue?




In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
thar
Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2019 8:28:26 AM

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d'oh!


Did Tiara Barbie just pinch the bottom of the girl in front? Or does Pained Barbie just really need the loo and the queue is so long......
lazarius
Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2019 8:58:11 AM

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thar wrote:
d'oh!
Did Tiara Barbie just pinch the bottom of the girl in front? Or does Pained Barbie just really need the loo and the queue is so long......

It must be written in that jaunty script, supposedly Finnish. :)


Не надо отчаиваться, товарищ.
sufall
Posted: Friday, March 22, 2019 9:43:22 AM

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it turns out it is not Finnish; the cue is from the Latin script above the jaunty one:
"International Chalu Union (ICU) is the largest Malayalam comedy platform, founded in 2007."
from their website http://chaluunion.com/aboutus

and back to English spelling, regardless having all those inconsistencies is fair or not, it certainly made things difficult for me and I guess for other foreign students alike - especially those whose native languages have completely different sets of influences than that of English.

this is frustrating at times and seldom funny, but what can you do, you sweat when in sauna!

adapted from the saying "hamama giren terler" in Turkish (hamam is Turkish bath) - I wonder if there is a similar saying in Finnish...
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Friday, March 22, 2019 10:21:00 AM

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Yes, sufall,

Sateella sataa ja saunassa tulee hiki.
When it rains you get wet, and in sauna you get sweat.


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
lazarius
Posted: Friday, March 22, 2019 10:48:50 AM

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sufall wrote:
this is frustrating at times and seldom funny

Farlex has a solution:

https://spelling-bee.com

You learn while you are playing.

--

Не надо отчаиваться, товарищ.
sufall
Posted: Friday, March 22, 2019 12:10:54 PM

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thank you Jyrkkä. for me, the fun part in learning a language is proverbs, idioms and phrases. maybe someday I give Finnish a try :)
and thank you too, lazarius. I do play the spelling-bee, though directly on the dictionary page - and it really helps.
coag
Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2019 5:32:07 PM

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thar wrote:
I know this is originally about how many ways you can spell the same word, but English does take advantage of how 'fluid' its orthography is.

I mean, any other language would have one word - rite. And another, site.
But English gets to have rite and write and right and wright. And site and sight and cite and, if you feel generous, -cyte. Four for the price of one, each with different meanings.
I mean, Icelandic is phonetic, and we only have veður. But English sneakily manages to have weather and whether and wether. I have to say, efficient use of a limited resource!

But sometimes it just makes things confusing - For instance I know what you call a stone-topped burial - a kist burial. Like kissed. But if you want a hard k why go and spell it as a cist burial, like sissed/cyst? Making up the rules as you go along is not fair! Whistle

Today I ran into this Icelandic word: Fjaðrárgljúfur
If a word in your language is spelled like this, you shouldn't be criticizing English spelling. Whistle

Iceland beauty spot Fjaðrárgljúfur closing to tourists (CNN)
thar
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 4:39:51 AM

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It is actually quite simple - feather gulf.
Say it out loud and it is practically English!
Most place names in Iceland are not that imaginative! But the gorge is pretty cool.


The village nearby is famous in Iceland for the Fire Sermon where a pastor prayed with the villagers to stop the lava from reaching the village. It is called Kirkjubæjarklaustur - very simple - church (kirk in Scotland) - farm/town (byre?burgh?) - cloister. (It was an Irish convent from way back, possibly before Norse settlement).

Quote:
"The flood of fire flowed with the speed of a great river swollen with meltwater on a spring day"

On June 8, 1783, the volcano Laki in south Iceland tore open a 16-mile fissure that erupted over nine cubic miles of lava. Not only would this eruption kill over 50% of Iceland's livestock population, leading to famine which killed approximately 25% of the population; its effects were felt the world over, with flourine, sulfur dioxide, ash, sand and drastically cooled tempertaures from the blotted-out sun reaching as far afield as North America and Africa. The eruption lasted for nearly eight months. And from the day the eruption began, a humble priest named Jón Steingrímsson would make his mark in history.

Steingrímsson - known now as the "Fire Priest" - not only witnessed the Laki eruption, he stayed with his parishioners, distributing food and money even as thick ash clouds created perpetual darkness and a winter that lasted nearly a year. Despite losing his wife and many of those close to him, he recorded the events of the Laki eruption in the eloquently written book Fires of the Earth. But what Steingrímsson is best known for is his "fire mass" - a sermon he delivered after all the townspeople of Kirkjubæjarklaustur were assembled in the church, a giant wall of lava approaching. The sermon was brief, but was said to have been delivered with great passion. At its conclusion, the lava had changed course, sparing the townspeople.









There are a few rules of Icelandic pronunciation that don't follow conventional orthography - -ll- has an -t- or -tla- sound, which confused the people trying to pronounce the name of the glacier where the volcano under it erupted closing European airspace for a while - Eyjafjallajokull.
But even that is simple - Eyja - island : fjalla - fell (mountain): jokull - glacier (no need for a cognate in English, but related words in Gaelic and Welsh)

It is the Danes that have a problem saying their own language. It is a joke that even productions in Danish have subtitles so Danes can understand them! Whistle
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 7:39:22 AM

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Pronunciation is easy to pronounce but hard to remember how to spell ;-)


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
thar
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 1:04:24 PM

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That is why efficient Germanics use the word 'say'.
And if anyone thinks Icelandic has too many consonants, it is only because Finnish had already nicked all the vowels.


How do you say 'pronounce' in Finnish, and what does it mean?
In Icelandic the way to say pronounce is "bera fram", the noun is "framburður".
fram - forward, progress (like the ship)
bera - bear, carry, offer, deliver, give birth; burður - birth, burden, load.
so it is the idea of bearing it forward, 'bring forth' forming words, I think.

to spell is "stafsetja" or "stafa" ; spelling is "stafsetning" - "putting sticks (letters)". Not really into complicated concepts, these people. Whistle


I don't know how in English the word pronounce moved from the official act of giving a public announcement, to how you say each word. Eh?
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 6:20:37 AM

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To pronounce is lausua in Finnish (to express, say, pronounce; also to recite), or ääntää (to sound, enunciate
Not too many vowels, I think?

Interestingly, the Finnish word lause means sentence, and virke means clause.

To spell is tavata, or kirjoittaa (to write).

BTW, I happen to have no difficulties pronouncing Icelandic names like Eyjafjallajokull ;-)
You can train your speech organs by trying to pronounce Kiihtelysvaara, a place in Finland.


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 9:45:30 AM

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There was a story in Wales about a road sign that read in English.
"No Enrty for Heavy Goods Vehicles Residental Vehicles Only"

Beneath it was the Welsh phrase as all road signs in Wales must be bilingual.
" Nid wyf yn y swaddle ar hyn o Byrd.
Anfoch unrhwy waith I'w gyfieithu"

This was not a translation of the English above it actual said " I am not in the Office please send anything to be translated after Lunch", but if no one on the road sign painting team could read Welsh they could not read the reply that they had just received and just copied it verbatim.

Funny old things forgien languages.

I lack the imagination for a witty signature.
thar
Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 10:00:14 AM

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To be fair, Welsh was there first and English is the foreign language. Whistle

(U don't mean only only in Wales, I mean in England if you go back far enough).


But it is nice to see it called Fjaðrárgljúfur. If you put 'canyon' or 'gorge' after it, that redundant, since that is the meaning of gljúfur.
It is fine to mess up with foreign languages, it is only natural. But so often a foreign language just sticks its own word on the end without even thinking about what a word might actually mean in the native language.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 10:07:13 AM

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And hey!

Prununciation is ääntämys in Finnish ;-)


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
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