The Tough Coughs as He Ploughs the Dough

We’ve all struggled with the weirdness of English spelling. But over the centuries, several intrepid characters have actually gone so far as to try to fix it, from recasting words to reflect their roots to proposing a whole new alphabet.

And did all that fiddling help? Not a bit, says professional word taster James Harbeck. In “6 Quests to Fix English’s Messed-Up Spelling,” he describes a tug-of-war between phonetics and etymology that has repeatedly corrupted, “corrected,” and re-corrupted our spelling.

Harbeck concludes that good sense is powerless against the English language. “We may complain about the spelling, but as a whole we seem to be addicted to its weirdness.”

(For more on the English language, check out James Harbeck’s articles and “word tasting notes” at Sesquiotica.)