A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Non-Chaos, or English Spelling Defended in Rhyme

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
It’s more regular in its core
Than pundits, who focus on its more
Erratic ways, would have you believe.
Perhaps they simply cannot conceive
Of any system not based in Latin—
They would choose, I suppose, to flatten
All writing to “one form, one sound”
But, really, regularities abound.
Consider, how we pronounce the plural
Form of words; Imagine the neural
Work of reading “dogs” and “cats.”
Would you prefer “dogz”? That’s
Not right—that single ess for each
Is easier to read, to sound out, and to teach.
Or consider “heir/inherit”
To write “air” would be a demerit,
A signature failure, and a sign
Of a spelling system’s worse design.
Seriously, it would simply astonish,
Anyone to think that “ghoti” sounds like “fish.”
Besides, English spans such colossal ages
And latitudes, I doubt such cages
Desired by fans of regularization
Could withstand the normal mutation
Of how language really adapts.
“Wind” and “hind” have rhymed or not, perhaps,
As, over time and place, each has adopted
A short I, sometimes a long I, co-opted
By real human beings. So “after tea and cakes and ices, “
Let us “force the moment to its crisis”—
Haters, they say, are going to hate; let them snivel
I have had enough of drivel,
Go ahead, enjoy your whine,
But English spelling is basically fine.

—Will Fitzgerald, January 2012

Distribution of tweet lengths

% of English tweets by size (sample 50k)

I get a very different distribution of tweets than Isaac Hepworth — no spikes at 28. My provisional guess is that his data is a bit wonky. My data here is (only) 50k English tweets from one day in 2007.

Isaac Hepworth's distribution

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,000 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.