Does English need a spelling reform?

From Quora: the highly complicated English vowel spelling system

Hi everyone,

English spelling is without a doubt, difficult. Especially compared with Italian spelling, which is largely phonetic, English spelling can seem completely arbitrary, and at points even purposefully complicated.

Take, for example, the schwa vowel. Despite being the most common sound in the English language, it is also represented by the highest number of different spellings. Schwa is, accent dependent, represented by all of the following spellings: about, children, pencil, renovate, supply, syringe, luscious, mission, blood, does, cousin, thorough, and especially. 13 different ways to spell the same (and the most common!) sound in English.

This complexity has led many to suggest spelling reform a la American, and beyond. Oxford Dictionaries have collected together some changes that in their opinion would make learning English easier.

This may be particularly pertinent in the modern world, where English is often learned as an L2 and used for important communication. It is in the interest of these learners and communicators that English is easy to learn and use so that they can communicate efficiently and clearly, without being tripped up by tricky spelling.

Others, however, argue that the spelling of English reflects the history of the language, and so should be maintained. Though there is certainly important historical and cultural information stored in spelling, is it time to update English so it can fulfill its modern-day functions?

What do you think? Should English spelling be changed? For what reasons should it be changed/maintained? If you’re interested in the topic, http://reforming-english.blogspot.com has some interesting information and data worth a look.


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