Monday, July 18, 2005

The Uglification of Language

Ten years ago, the German government decided it needed to reform the spelling of the German language (Rechtschreibreform). A committee was duly set up to do so. The reforms dreamt up by this body met with such resistance that they can only be implemented piecemeal, if at all. Some of the German Länder have therefore refused to implement them, knowing full well that further "reforms" will soon come to further confuse their schoolchildren and teachers.

Here's some examples of the proposed changes: the word "Tip" (meaning "tip") is to be spelled "Tipp"; "Mayonnaise" is to become "Majonäse"; whilst "Stoffetzen" becomes "Stofffetzen".

It is clear that, like everything produced by committees, these "reforms" will result in the uglification of something much better left alone.

The only comfort is that this is truly an academic exercise, without the slightest relevance to the modern world. First, because a quarter of Germans aged 15 can't read or write anyway, according to the latest Pisa study. Second, because in a couple of decades, there won't be any requirement for the German language. On present trends, we will all be using Arabic by then.

No comments: