2005-07-14

Regularized Inglish

I know this looks like a whole mess of misspellings, but it's actually a very sensible spelling reform (not revolution) devised by Axel Wijk and published in his book Regularized Inglish back in 1958, and simplified slightly by me. This is the American version.

Wunce upon a time thare livd a poor boy named Dick Whittington, hooze faather and muther were bothe ded. Having neether home nor frends, he roamed about the cuntry trying to ern hiz living. Sumtimes he cood not finde any wurk, and he offen had to go hungry.

On market days he herd the farmers tauk about the greit city of Lundon. They sed that its streets wer paved with gold. So Dick made up hiz minde to go to Lundon and seek hiz fortune. Packing hiz clothes into a bundle and cauling hiz faithful cat he started out. After days and days ov wauking, the hungry lad finally reached Lundon.

But alas, the streets were not paved with gold but hard cobblestones. He wondered [i.e. wandered] about the city seeking for wurk. At last, he came to the house ov a rich merchant and knocked at the dor.

The dor woz opened by the cook, but when she oenly saw a ragged boy on the step, she woz angry and told him to begon. At that moment the oener ov the house, Master Fitzwarren, returned and seeing the ppor boy's condition he took pity on him and ordered the cook to giv him sum foode. "If yoo wish to wurk", he added, "yoo may stay here and help cook in the kitchen. Yoo will finde a bed in the attic." Dick thanked Master Fitzwarren very much for hiz greit kindeness.

Dick might hav been happy had it not been for the cook, hoo whipped him aulmoste every day. She treated him so badly that the merchant's daughter, hoo woz a kinde-harted girl, felt very sorry for the lonely lad.

Wun day the merchant cauld aul hiz servants together. He told them that he had a ship reddy to sail to forren lands, and that each ov them might send sumthing in her, and they shood hav aul that it sold for.

"What ar yoo going to send, Dick?" asked the merchant's daughter.

"I hav nuthing to send," sed Dick sadly, "nuthing but my cat."

"Fetch thy cat then, boy, and send her!" sed the merchant.

Dick woz sorry to part with Poossy, yet he obeyed his master, and with tears in hiz ies gave Pooss to the capten ov the ship.

Aultho Dick wurked hard and tried to pleaze the cook, she continued to beat and torment him. At last he cood not stand it eny longer and made up hiz minde to run away. Wun morning he got up very erly, and packing hiz few things into a tiny bundle, he slipped out ov the house. When he got az far az a place cauld Highgate, he felt tired and sat down thare to rest. Suddenly the bells ov Boe Church began ringing and az he lissened it seemed to him that they wer saying:

Ding-dong, ding-dong,
Turn agen, Whittington,
Thrice Lord Mayor ov Lundon!

"Lord Mayor ov Lundon", he said to himself. "Hoo wood not be Lord Mayor ov Lundon? But if I run away I'll never hav a chance. I'll go back again and endure aul the cook's beatings raather than miss such a chance." Back he hurried and managed to get into the house before the cook had cum down.

While aul this woz happening, the ship with Dick's cat woz bloen by a storm to a distant cuntry inhabited by Moors. Theze peeple receeved the capten and hiz men kindely and wer anxious to see whot the straingers had in their ship. The capten shoed [i.e. showed] them hiz good and aulso sent sum samples to the king ov the cuntry.

The King woz so well pleazed with the samples that he invited the capten to hav dinner with the King and Queen. Az soon az the dishes wer braught in and poot down on the table, an immense number ov rats rushed out from every side and sworming over the foode, ate it nearly aul up. The capten woz amazed at this and asked the King how he cood stand such a thing.

"But whot can I doo to stop them?" sed the King. "I wood gladly giv haf my kingdom to get rid ov theze pests."

Then the capten thaught of Dick's cat and told the King that he had a little animal on hiz ship that wood make short wurk ov theze creatures.

"Go bring this wunderful animal to me," cried the King, "and I will load yoor ship with gold and jewels in exchainge for her."

The capten hurred off while anuther dinner woz being prepared, and when he returned with Pooss, the rats wer bizzy eating that aulso. Down amung them he put Pooss and she flew around killing a greit number, while the rest ran away.

The King and Queen wer overjoyed to see their enemies thus dispersed, and when the capten sed that he wood be onnord if they wood allow him to make them a prezent of Pooss, the King woz so delighted that he baught aul the ship's cargo and gave ten times az much for the cat.

The ship then sailed back with fair winds to Ingland. On arriving home the capten went to the merchant and shoed [i.e. showed] him aul the trezures that the King had given for Pooss. The onnest merchant at wunce sent for Dick and congratulated him on having becum a rich man. "Yoor cat haz braught yoo more munney than I pozess," he sed. "May yoo liv long to enjoy it."

Dick fell on hiz knees and thanked Heven for hiz good fortune. He then reworded [i.e. rewarded] the capten and the crew and aulso gave prezents to aul the servants, even to the cross-tempered cook.

Later on Dick married hiz master's daughter and the yung cupple lived long and happily. The prophecy that the bells ov Boe Church had chimed in the ears ov the ragged boy later came true. Three times woz Dick Whittington Lord Mayor ov Lundon.

5 comments:

Justin said...

I had to stop after the second paragraph: I could feel an aneurysm developing. Why? Why, why, why?

Anonymous said...

Writing as a non-native speaker who reads and writes much more fluently than he speaks and understands spoken English, such a reformed text is very hard to unterstand.

English orthography may be irregular, but at least it is mostly standardized (or standardised? ;-). I believe that many, if not most users of English are non-native speakers, so any reform based on some speficic (even if "standard british") pronounciation would not work for them.

John Cowan said...

I'll post a blog entry on Regularized Inglish at some point. The basic reason for it is that it's a lot less time-consuming and confusing to learn as a child or adult non-native speaker, and not too hard to learn even if you know the existing orthography.

Ironically, Regularized Inglish was invented by a Swede named Axel Wijk (of Dutch descent, I presume), and does not represent any specific pronunciation of English. It simply reforms the spellings of the 11% or so of English words which are not spelled by any rule. The remaining rules are complex, but at least they are rules.

Regularized Inglish makes English about as easy to read and write as French, orthographically speaking (i.e. the pronunciation can almost always be predicted from the spelling but not always vice versa).

As for native vs. non-native speakers, the answer is somewhat vague, because it's vague how good you have to be at English to count as a non-native speaker rather than a non-native non-speaker. But roughly speaking, between 40% and 50% of English-speakers are non-native.

Justin said...

Well, it still gave me a headache.

Kynast said...

Very well-planned reform - I followed it with bated breath. Opinions against it seem to have been voiced by those who do not actually read letter signs but memorise words by heart - hence the experienced difficulty with instantaneous letter-to-sound recognition on their part. Generally, schools do not teach the phonetic value of letters and letter clusters, which results in the students' inability to correctly spell the words, and, incidentally, to appreciate the wisdom and consistency of the spelling reform as it is proposed here.