Why is English spelling not simplified?

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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#61  Postby katja z » Dec 01, 2010 2:51 pm

Fallible wrote:
katja z wrote:Fallible, I agree with all of this, I was just making the point that a completely laissez-faire language policy is not really an option nowadays, not for our official languages anyway, and that teaching the language norm in schools is still top-down "meddling" to an extent, so it is difficult sometimes to know just where the line should be drawn.


I don't advocate a completely laissez-faire policy -

I understand that, Fallible, and didn't mean to imply you did, sorry if I was unclear. I just used your post as a starting point to, well, make a point that I think is relevant to the discussion of how language is/should/shouldn't be regulated. :cheers:
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#62  Postby Fallible » Dec 01, 2010 2:53 pm

Am I going on? I'm going on, aren't I. I do that. :?
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#63  Postby NineOneFour » Dec 02, 2010 4:04 am

Paul1 wrote:It appears to me that English spelling is very illogical and we should have done something about this along time ago. We should have one letter for one sound, and one sound for one letter.

We don't need these silly vowel combinations. To make a vowel long we could logically combine a vowel with it, much like they do in Arabic . E.g. feet becomes fiyt, nice = nuys. We need a new vowel or two, as o and O have different sounds, the same sound bird can also be turned into capital O; so we could employ new letters
"ı" for the i in bird
"ɵ" for the oo in too
"ɛ" for the o in poor

In particular the following letters could be simplified:
c - As in cat but not as in ceiling. It could start with an s instead.
q - "cw" e.g "queen" = "cwiyn" (starting to look like Welsh!)
k could be abolished
j could be abolished and replaced with Ģ
x could be abolished
z could be abolished and replaced with ss
v could become f, whilst f would become ff
ch could be replaced with ç
sh could be replaced with ş
th (as in think) could be replaced with ţ
th (as in them) could be replaced with þ

So "The brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" would become "þı brawn focs ģumpd ıwfır þı leyssiy dog"

"I am an Atheist" would become "Uy am an Ayţiyist", "I like fish and chips" would become "Uy luyc ffiş and çips"

etc etc


Unlike, say, Dutch or French, there is no official body or group that governs the language.
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#64  Postby RaspK » Dec 02, 2010 8:28 am

The main issue I have with the above suggestion is that it reads more like a phonetic alphabet for Eastern Europeans than any spelling a native English speaker would opt for!
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#65  Postby Loren Michael » Dec 02, 2010 9:00 am

Fallible wrote:IMO we should just leave English alone to evolve in the mouths and hands of speakers and writers, as it has always done. If it turns out to be just too difficult to use, it will change.


Children tend to be able to learn pretty much any language pretty easily, but I don't think an evolved tongue is very helpful for foreigners. I'm interested in getting as many people into English as possible, and the language itself makes that a somewhat difficult task.
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#66  Postby katja z » Dec 02, 2010 9:19 am

Loren Michael wrote:
Fallible wrote:IMO we should just leave English alone to evolve in the mouths and hands of speakers and writers, as it has always done. If it turns out to be just too difficult to use, it will change.


Children tend to be able to learn pretty much any language pretty easily, but I don't think an evolved tongue is very helpful for foreigners. I'm interested in getting as many people into English as possible, and the language itself makes that a somewhat difficult task.

Uh, people have always learned evolved tongues. It's how we have always communicated across cultures. I fail to see the problem.
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#67  Postby Fallible » Dec 02, 2010 10:55 am

Loren Michael wrote:
Fallible wrote:IMO we should just leave English alone to evolve in the mouths and hands of speakers and writers, as it has always done. If it turns out to be just too difficult to use, it will change.


Children tend to be able to learn pretty much any language pretty easily, but I don't think an evolved tongue is very helpful for foreigners. I'm interested in getting as many people into English as possible, and the language itself makes that a somewhat difficult task.


Best start a new language from scratch then and teach it to everyone at the same time, since no one on earth is now speaking a language that is exactly the same as it was originally, if you can ever even apply that word. Languages evolved from the word go. Given the numbers of people who manage to learn English, I do not buy the argument that it is too difficult for non-native speakers to grasp. Swathes of non-native English speakers communicate in English both with native speakers and among themselves. There are people right here on this board and right here in this thread who one would be hard-pressed to identify as non-native English speakers if it wasn't hinted at in the information given under their avatars. While I understand that this forum is probably rather unrepresentative of the general population, my experience outside the UK and Canada is that pretty much everywhere I've been, people speak English.
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#68  Postby Teria » Dec 02, 2010 11:00 am

Fallible wrote:Best start a new language from scratch then and teach it to everyone at the same time,


Even if you did that, this generic language would rapidly evolve into different languages again.
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#69  Postby Fallible » Dec 02, 2010 11:07 am

True.
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#70  Postby RaspK » Dec 02, 2010 11:28 am

Teria wrote:
Fallible wrote:Best start a new language from scratch then and teach it to everyone at the same time,

Even if you did that, this generic language would rapidly evolve into different languages again.

I think the different variations of made-up speech (1337, txt, etc.) following the original norm indicate that.
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#71  Postby katja z » Dec 02, 2010 11:33 am

Teria wrote:
Fallible wrote:Best start a new language from scratch then and teach it to everyone at the same time,


Even if you did that, this generic language would rapidly evolve into different languages again.

Exactly. There's no such thing as a completely homogeneous speaking community. Not for long, anyway. And the larger it is, the faster its language will diverge. It's as unstoppable as evolution. :grin:
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#72  Postby Delvo » Dec 03, 2010 3:59 am

The suggestions for how to fix it that usually get tossed around aren't really simplifying anything; they're making it more complicated, in many cases intentionally (to be deliberately ridiculous). They make writing look weird and hard to read (and create problems for how to produce some characters on our keyboards/computers) by making a lot of changes that don't really need to be. Not every single thing that's a bit odd really needs to be "fixed". Truly simplifying our spelling would only require a few specific changes to undo the most widespread problems (contradictions), leaving most words with little or no change at all but still making our system generally as sensible and self-consistent as other European languages are. Some examples of oddities that don't really need to change and might make the transition harder on ourselves than necessary (and create undue resistance) if we did try to change them:
  • Inventing new letters (or assigning "unnecessary" current ones like C/Q/X) for sounds that currently take two (TH, CH, SH, NG)
  • Adding diacritical marks for various cases where letters alone might not tell you absolutely everything
  • Use of silent W and Y to clarify pronunciation of an adjacent vowel, especially at the end of a word, like "say" and "saw" and "few"; sometimes we would need a way to indicate those, and the one we're used to is just as good as another new way we could invent
  • Losing silent final E in general (not just the few exceptions to their "rule"); nothing wrong with the silent final E rule as long as it's applied consistently
  • Losing various other random silent letters scattered throughout the language like in "doubt", or especially vowels in the middle of a word that would add another syllable if they were pronounced, like in "wolves"; dropping them shouldn't be called "wrong" (and I'll do it in my example below), but insisting on it mite be just not worth the bother.
  • Replacement of vowels that get a schwa-like pronunciation with something like U or OO or a schwa symbol; that would be a LOT of vowels to change, and sometimes we use them in recognizing a word, especially a short word
  • Replacing OO with U; it makes sense, but why bother? The way it is isn't contradicting anything.
  • Replacing vocalized S with Z in absolutely all cases; there are just too many cases now, so it would end up looking silly
  • Replacing C with S and K, and dropping it or using it for something else like CH's sound; other European languages get by just fine with some complications for this letter, and so can ours
  • Changing the final TION/SION on a lot of words; it's only one rule; learn it once and you can reuse it over and over for all cases like it, so it's not putting a burden on anyone like long lists of special cases and contradictions do
  • Using ZH/DH for the vocal counterparts to SH/TH

If you don't try to go after every little thing like that , fixing things that make a logical mess on a large scale can be done with relatively few changes, like this:
  • Replace all instances of GH (that aren't actually pronounced as a G and an H, which is rare) with the letter(s) for whatever sound is actually there now, including simply deleting the GH if it's silent.
  • Eliminate all single-sound (non-diphthong) cases of EA, EI, IE, OU, and OW, to be replaced with whatever vowel represents the actual sound in each case. No more cases of EI at all! IE can stick around only for the same diphthong that I represents alone... think of it as a silent E after a long vowel, just with no consonant between, like in "due" and "sue" and "oboe".
  • Eliminate silent finale Es that don't affect a preceding vowel, C, or G... and maybe even with those latter two, although that would force us to switch from C or G to S, SS, Ç, or J in those cases. In the numerous "le" endings, the E could be moved to before the L, or just dropped.
  • Final I and Y: Use I for the sound in "alibi" and "defy", and Y for the one in all those adjectives and adverbs that already end with Y; pluralize/conjugate final-Y words by just adding the D/S.

Notice how common some of these simple changes already are in settings where people aren't worried about an English teacher with a red pen, such as signs directing drivers to where the "drive-thru" is and names of products which are supposed to be "lite" in some way or the "rite" way to do something. So almost all we'd need to do is just let people feel more free to do what they already want to do; just let things be spelled as they sound, as it was don a few centuries ago, before we got stuck in the idea that some spellings are right or wrong by some arbitrary non-phonetic standard.

There would still be a few inconsistencies left, like the leftover words that didn't get shifted by the Great Vowel Shift, some post-GVS imports, and words that are anomalous regardless of the GVS anyway like "one" and "women". But the changes I suggested above would leave so few of those behind that it would be simple to just change those words' spellings separately. Most cases, like the word "doubt" that I used above, wuldn't even need any official solution at all; just let peepl spell them the way they sound without telling them it's wrong, and they'll do it bi phonetics, which will be the new rite way. (Or we could just decide to live with them as they are, since having a handful of exceptions is still better than having the large amount we've got now.)

Now, an example of what some real text would look like with these changes, so you can see that it doesn't take anything really radical to make English phonetics make sense and the right set of changes can be quite unobtrusive: here is (I hope) this post, word for word, simply transliterated as I've just suggested:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
The suggestions for how tu fix it that usually get tossd around arn't reely simplifiing anything; they'r making it mor complicated, in many cases intentionally (tu be deliberatly ridiculus). They make writing look weerd and hard tu rede (and create problems for how tu produce som caracters on our keboards/computers) bi making a lot ov changes that don't reely need tu be. Not every singl thing that's a bit odd reely needs tu be "fixd". Truly simplifiing our spelling wuld only require a few specific changes tu undu the most widespred problems (contradictions), leeving most words with littl or no change at all but still making our system generally as sensibl and self-consistent as other European languages ar. Som examples ov odditys that don't reely need tu change and mite make the transition harder on ourselvs than necessary (and create undue resistance) if we did tri tu change them:
  • Inventing new letters (or assining "unnecessary" current wons like C/Q/X) for sounds that currently take two (TH, CH, SH, NG)
  • Adding diacritical marks for varius cases wher letters alone mite not tell yu absolutely everything
  • Use ov silent W and Y tu clarifi pronunciation ov an adjacent vowel, especially at the end ov a word, like "say" and "saw" and "few"; somtimes we wuld need a way tu indicate those, and the won we'r used tu is just as good as another new way we culd invent
  • Loosing silent final E in general (not just the few exeptions tu their "rule"); nothing wrong with the silent final E rule as long as it's applied consistently
  • Loosing varius other random silent letters scatterd thruout the language like in "doubt", or especially vowels in the middl ov a word that wuld add another syllabl if they wer pronounced, like in "wolves"; dropping them shuldn't be calld "wrong" (and I'll do it in mi exampl belo), but insisting on it mite be just not worth the bother.
  • Replacement ov vowels that get a shwa-like pronunciation with somthing like U or OO or a schwa symbol; that wuld be a LOT of vowels to change, and somtimes we use them in recognizing a word, especially a short word
  • Replacing OO with U; it makes sens, but why bother? The way it is isn't contradicting anything.
  • Replacing vocalized S with Z in absolutely all cases; ther ar just too many cases now, so it wuld end up looking silly
  • Replacing C with S and K, and dropping it or using it for somthing els like CH's sound; other European languages get bi just fine with som complications for this letter, and so can ours
  • Changing the final TION/SION on a lot ov words; it's only won rule; lern it wonce and you can reuse it over and over for all cases like it, so it's not putting a burden on anywon like long lists ov special cases and contradictions du
  • Using ZH/DH for the vocal counterparts tu SH/TH

If you don't tri tu go after every littl thing like that , fixing things that make a logical mess on a large scale can be dun with relativly few changes, like this:
  • Replace all instances ov GH (that arn't actually pronounced as a G and an H, which is rare) with the letter(s) for whatever sound is actually ther now, including simply deleting the GH if it's silent.
  • Eliminate all singl-sound (non-diphthong) cases ov EA, EI, IE, OU, and OW, tu be replaced with whatever vowel represents the actual sound in eech case. No more cases ov EI at all! IE can stick around only for the same diphthong that I represents alone... think ov it as a silent E after a long vowel, just with no consonant between, like in "due" and "sue" and "oboe".
  • Eliminate silent final Es that don't affect a preceding vowel, C, or G... and maybe even with those latter two, altho that wuld force us tu switch from C or G tu S, SS, Ç, or J in those cases. In the numerus "le" endings, the E culd be moovd to befor the L, or just dropd.
  • Final I and Y: Use I for the sound in "alibi" and "defy", and Y for the won in all those adjectivs and adverbs that alreddy end with Y; pluralize/conjugate final-Y words bi just adding the D/S.

Notiss how common som ov these simpl changes alreddy ar in settings wher peepl arn't worryd about an English teecher with a red pen, such as sines directing drivers tu wher the "drive-thru" is and names ov products which ar supposed tu be "lite" in som way or the "rite" way tu du somthing. So almost all we'd need tu du is just let peepl feel mor free tu du what they alreddy want tu du; just let things be spelld as they sound, as it was dun a few centurys ago, befor we got stuck in the idea that som spellings ar rite or wrong bi som arbitrary non-phonetic standard.

Ther wuld still be a few scatterd inconsistencys left, like the leftover words that didn't get shifted bi the Grate Vowel Shift, som post-GVS imports, and words that ar anomalus regardless ov the GVS anyway like "one" and "women". But the changes I suggested abov wuld leev so few ov those behind that it wuld be simple tu just change those words' spellings separatly. Most cases, like the word "dout" that I used abov, wuldn't even need any official solution at all; just let peepl spell them the way they sound without telling them it's wrong, and they'll do it bi phonetics, which will be the new rite way. (Or we culd just decide tu liv with them as they ar, since having a handful ov exeptions is still better than having the large amount we'v got now.)

Now, an exampl ov what som reel text wuld look like with these changes, so you can see that it dosn't take anything reely radical tu make English phonetics make sens and the rite set of changes can be quite unobtrusiv: here is (I hope) this post, word for word, simply transliterated as I'v just suggested: :this:
Last edited by Delvo on Dec 03, 2010 3:46 pm, edited 8 times in total.
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#73  Postby Delvo » Dec 03, 2010 4:02 am

Ick... I forgot that this site's "spoiler" function dosn't create a littl box that expands when yu click it, but just leevs it all taking up just as much space and merely grayd out...
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#74  Postby RaspK » Dec 03, 2010 7:50 am

Delvo wrote:Ick... I forgot that this site's "spoiler" function dosn't create a littl box that expands when yu click it, but just leevs it all taking up just as much space and merely grayd out...

I'm sorry, but both systems are hideously ridiculous to just lump on anybody; if the shift comes naturally, then it will. On the other hand, your simplification is really not all that simple at all!

You know what other matter really bothers me? I am dyslexic, for fuck's sake, and I don't complain nearly as much as just about anybody I come across, now and then, who doesn't realize that etymology (which doesn't just refer to the meaning of a word, but also its roots and how it got to be how it currently is) and its usage is all that makes a word's spelling up. Let's take some examples that really stand out:
If you don't tri tu go after every littl thing like that , fixing things that make a logical mess on a large scale can be dun with relativly few changes, like this:

For starters, you clearly show here how you are not accustomed to such uses of diphthongs as Germans and Greeks are: by making them obsolete, you now have to resort to using "tri," which would have no consistent value ("tip", "type", "tire"). "Little" is clunky, because the ee there denotes that the sound is lightly accented (you would know the difference if you did come across a Greek pronouncing the written form "Λιττλ" — that is, without the accented ee; the same is true of "relativly" — "Ρελατίβλυ"). Finally, why is "dun" not an example of how "doon" (Heavens!) or "dune" would be written? How would you work around that?

There are yet more examples, but I think that's enough for now.
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#75  Postby Mr.Samsa » Dec 03, 2010 10:20 am

Delvo wrote:Ick... I forgot that this site's "spoiler" function dosn't create a littl box that expands when yu click it, but just leevs it all taking up just as much space and merely grayd out...


If you use the [ spoiler=] tag (as opposed to the [ spoiler] tag without the equals sign) then it expands a little box with the spoilered material, instead of taking up all that space. :thumbup:
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Reason: Fixed tags
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#76  Postby RaspK » Dec 03, 2010 4:07 pm

Mr.Samsa wrote:
Delvo wrote:Ick... I forgot that this site's "spoiler" function dosn't create a littl box that expands when yu click it, but just leevs it all taking up just as much space and merely grayd out...


If you use the [ spoiler=]tag (as opposed to the [ spoiler] tag without the equals sign) then it expands a little box with the spoilered material, instead of taking up all that space. :thumbup:

Like this:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Mr.Samsa wrote:
Delvo wrote:Ick... I forgot that this site's "spoiler" function dosn't create a littl box that expands when yu click it, but just leevs it all taking up just as much space and merely grayd out...


If you use the [spoiler=] tag (as opposed to the [spoiler] tag without the equals sign) then it expands a little box with the spoilered material, instead of taking up all that space. :thumbup:
Last edited by Mr.Samsa on Dec 05, 2010 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed tags (that were wrong in my post that you quoted)
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#77  Postby RaspK » Dec 03, 2010 4:09 pm

Mr.Samsa wrote:
Delvo wrote:Ick... I forgot that this site's "spoiler" function dosn't create a littl box that expands when yu click it, but just leevs it all taking up just as much space and merely grayd out...


If you use the [spoiler=]tag (as opposed to the [spoiler] tag without the equals sign) then it expands a little box with the spoilered material, instead of taking up all that space. :thumbup:

I'm confused...
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#78  Postby Delvo » Dec 05, 2010 3:50 am

RaspK wrote:I'm sorry, but both systems are hideously ridiculous to just lump on anybody; if the shift comes naturally, then it will.
It reely can't. The language is too widespred for a singl coherent system to just catch on bi itself all over that area now. Changing the system overall wuld require that varius institutions in education and the media agree to switch from the old system to a new won as a deliberate decision.

RaspK wrote:For starters, you clearly show here how you are not accustomed to such uses of diphthongs as Germans and Greeks are: by making them obsolete, you now have to resort to using "tri," which would have no consistent value ("tip", "type", "tire"). "Little" is clunky, because the ee there denotes that the sound is lightly accented (you would know the difference if you did come across a Greek pronouncing the written form "Λιττλ" — that is, without the accented ee; the same is true of "relativly" — "Ρελατίβλυ"). Finally, why is "dun" not an example of how "doon" (Heavens!) or "dune" would be written? How would you work around that?
I can't make any sens out ov that paragraph other than bi postulating that yu think mi changes wer intended for a wide assortment of languages, not just English. English is the only won we'r talking about here. What phonetic rules ar or shuld be used in any other language, especially won with a different alphabet, hav nothing tu du with anything here.
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#79  Postby Mr.Samsa » Dec 05, 2010 4:03 am

RaspK wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:
Delvo wrote:Ick... I forgot that this site's "spoiler" function dosn't create a littl box that expands when yu click it, but just leevs it all taking up just as much space and merely grayd out...


If you use the [ spoiler=]tag (as opposed to the [ spoiler] tag without the equals sign) then it expands a little box with the spoilered material, instead of taking up all that space. :thumbup:

I'm confused...


Is it just me or has the page design gone a little funny? (I think I need to some edit some posts to "close" the fake spoiler tags I used above...) EDIT: Ah, I see you were confused as to why it wasn't working in your post and not confused about what I was saying. Ignore the following! :tongue:

Anyway, what I was saying was that you can either use the first spoiler tag and it will look like this:

Image

which leaves a big space in your post, or you can use the second spoiler tag which expands when clicked on, like this:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Image
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Re: Why is English spelling not simplified?

#80  Postby gleniedee » Dec 05, 2010 7:31 am

Teria wrote:
Fallible wrote:Best start a new language from scratch then and teach it to everyone at the same time,


Even if you did that, this generic language would rapidly evolve into different languages again.



Change,yes,how quickly is debatable.

Three of the major drivers for linguistic variation are isolation, illiteracy and limited communication. All of those things have changed dramatically within the last 100 years,and even more with in the last 20 with the advent of the IT age.

A formal national language CAN be adopted;The Roman empire used Greek and the governments of China and Singapore are slowly making Mandarin the national language.(In Singapore's case it's Mandarin AND English)

Introducing an invented new language is much harder.I think ESPERANTO was the last one to be tried. Not sure if Pidgin counts.


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About this sound Esperanto (help·info) is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto (Dr. Hopeful), the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887. Zamenhof's goal was to create an easy-to-learn and politically neutral language that would serve as a universal second language to foster peace and international understanding.

Esperanto is the only constructed language with native speakers, that is, people who learned it from their parents as one of their native languages. Estimates range from 10,000 to two million additional active or fluent speakers. Usage is particularly high in eastern and northern Europe, eastern Asia, Brazil, and Iran. A World Congress of Esperanto was organized in France in 1905, and since then has been held in various countries every year apart from during the world wars. Although no country has adopted it officially, Esperanto was recommended by the French Academy of Sciences in 1921, was recognized by UNESCO in 1954, and is currently the language of instruction of a university in San Marino. There is evidence that learning Esperanto may provide a superior foundation for learning languages in general, and some primary schools teach it as preparation for learning other foreign languages.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto



A pidgin (pronounced /ˈpɪdʒɪn/) language is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the country in which they reside (but where there is no common language between the groups). Fundamentally, a pidgin is a simplified means of linguistic communication, as is constructed impromptu, or by convention, between groups of people. A pidgin is not the native language of any speech community, but is instead learned as a second language.[1][2] A pidgin may be built from words, sounds, or body language from multiple other languages and cultures. Pidgins usually have low prestige with respect to other languages.[3]

Not all simplified or "broken" forms of a language (patois) are pidgins. Each pidgin has its own norms of usage which must be learned for proficiency in the pidgin.[4]
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeon_English
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