FEBRUARY 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 2
ALSO THIS MONTH
English to German Revision
World War II may have ended in 1945, more than 50 years ago, but ever since linguists have been arguing for world dominance. Control of words. Rule of vocabulary. Exclusive grammatical power, if you will.
It what has been termed "Word War I," in many academic circle such as Phi Beta Scrabble at Harvard University, the action has been intense and particularly sanguinary. Accompanied by the sister battalions, the antonymists and synonymists, the linguists have fought a turf war for complete control of the alphabet. At stake are prized allied possessions "c," "ph," "w," and powerful silent "e."
Recently, however, light has broken through the grammatical clouds, illuminating a new hope for wordsmiths worldwide. Professor Richard "Dick" Tionary from prestigious Oxford University presented a paper at the CAVA (Consonant and Vowel Application) Summit that stressed the need for, and possibility of, a peaceful solution.
"Basically I suggested the Allied powers, namely the English take the high road on this," said Tionary in a prepared statement. "We have been speaking this way for centuries, but what's a small amount of change if it brings about peace and restores world order."
After such an impassioned presentation -- which, according to eye-witnesses, impressed with a staggering amount of 10-cent words -- it come of no surprise that his proposal is receiving careful and deliberate consideration from both sides.
The text that follows is an abridged version of Dr. Tionary's 1,000 page document, highlighting the key elements and the exceptional way they will be absorbed in the English culture. After the assimilation is complete in the U.K., it is hoped that the United States will easily adopt the policies as well.
Give Us Peace, Not Debate
Having chosen English as the preferred language in the EEC, the European Parliament has commissioned a feasibility study in ways of improving efficiency in communications between Government departments.
European officials have often pointed out that English spelling is unnecessarily difficult -- for example, cough, plough, rough, through and thorough. What is clearly needed is a phased programme of changes to iron out these anomalies.
The programme would, of course, be administered by a committee staff at the top level by participating nations.
In the first year, for example, the committee would suggest using "s" instead of the soft "c." Sertainly, sivil servants in all sities would resieve this news with joy. Then the hard "c" would be replaced by "k" sinse both letters are pronounced alike. Not only would this klear up konfusion in the minds of klerikal workers, but keyboards kould be made with one less letter.
There would be growing enthusiasm when in the sekond year, it would be announsed that the troublesome "ph" would henseforth be written "f". This would make words like fotograf twenty persent shorter in print.
In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated shanges are possible. Goverments would enkourage the removal of double letters which have always been a deterent to akurate speling.
We would al agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful. Therfor, we kould drop thes and kontinu to read and writ as though nothing had hapend. By this tim, it would be four years sins the skem began and the peopl would be reseptiv to steps sutsh as replasing "th" by "z". Perhaps zen ze funktion of "w" kould be taken on by "v", vitsh is, after al, half a "w". Shortly after zis, ze unesesary "o" kould be dropd from words kontaining "ou". Similar arguments vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of letters.
Kontinuing zis proses yer after yer, ve vud eventuli hav a reli sensibl riten styl. After twenti yers zer vud be no mor trubls, difikultis and evrivun vud find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drems of ze Guvermnt vud finali hav kum tru!!!
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SUBMITTED via e-mail by Gregory Ridolfi.
PHOTO of Jason Biggs (American Pie) copyright © 1999 Universal Pictures.