The Non-Chaos, or English Spelling Defended in Rhyme
January 13, 2012
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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