Originally posted by bill718
The English language is a strange thing. i.e. 1. Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things? 2. Why isn't phonetic spelled like it sounds? 3. Who decided pseudo should be spelled with a "p" in front? And the list goes on...It's no wonder we need years of classes just to be able to understand this language
The meanings of compound words is a very different topic from spelling.
There is a very good case for revising English spelling to a much simplified purely phonetic version. It would for a start make a massive different to education. Many children are held back in school for no other reason than that English spelling is complicated (and unnecessarily so).
There are however downsides.
1. It would mean that during the change over everyone would need to know both systems.
2. Even after the changeover reading historical texts would require learning the old system.
3. Organizing a global changeover would be almost impossible. There would almost certainly end up being regions of the world that refuse to switch.
These are of course not insurmountable challenges, and computers would make it vastly easier. The majority of our text consumption is now done by computer and translation by computer would be trivial and not nearly as difficult as translation between languages.
Lessons could be learnt by looking at mainland China which simplified their writing system for similar reasons. It it of particular note that Taiwan and many overseas Chinese communities did not switch. Also many Chinese can now not read historical documents - and the advent of computers is resulting in them often being unable to write even the simplified characters without the aid of computers. Some may see all this as a loss of culture etc, but ultimately I think they were correct to simplify the characters and the benefits outweigh the costs.
On a side note, it is nearly time to stop teaching handwriting in schools. It is no-longer an essential art-form and takes up way to much of a child's time. At a minimum, typing skills should receive more focus than handwriting.
edit: It must also be noted that a change in spelling system would be a far simpler change than a change in language. Given that many countries around the world have successfully made English their primary language it is clear that such large scale changes are possible.