Members of the 'Simplified Spelling Society' are currently in the news for picketing outside the ongoing US National Spelling Bee competition in Washington, holding up placards which read: 'Let's end the 'i' in friend'. The society claims that current English spelling worsens dyslexia and delays children's literacy by several years. However I disagree with the idea of simplified spelling for the following reasons:
1. Which pronunciation would we use to spell words like: tomato, aunt, status, tuna, amen? What about words with varying numbers of syllables depending on how you pronounce them, such as: athlete, every and chocolate?
2. How would sound-based spellings distinguish between homonyms (homographs) such as: weigh/way/whey, i/eye/aye, to/too/two, rite/write/right/wright and air/e'er/ere/err/heir?
3. Foreign languages with words found in English would be harder to learn. Currently easily recognisable French words such as conversation, succès, triomphe and idée would become something like: 'konvuhrsayshun', 'sahrkses', 'treyeahmph' and 'eyedihr' in 'simplified' English.
4. The spelling of many words in English tells us something of their history and origins. That would be lost under a system of simplified spelling.
5. Being a lover of words, I think there is a strong aesthetic case to be made for the present English spelling of words as compared to the equivalent 'simplified' spellings.
6. Finally, I dislike the implication in the idea of 'simplified spelling' that the best way to educate people is by lowering the bar. We should instead be focusing on the most effective ways to teach the hugely important skills of spelling, reading and writing.