Language reform?

Let’s turn away from the English language in general in this thread.
I don’t know if anyone of you knows what is happening right now in Germany with our German language. Probably not too many of you, I suppose.

Well, about 6 years ago some German “scientists” tried to reform our language by making our spelling easier. That included different spellings for words that weren’t considered very hard to write by many people. But they changed it anyway. The new regulations demanded to omit commas where those useful little thingies were needed (if one did not want to destroy the flow of the sentence). OK, I admit that some of the new rules are easier to learn for little kids who just begin to learn the language, but for all the others who grew up with the “old” German language, it is very hard to not make mistakes. Very few people even know all the new rules and very frequently even teachers are suprised that they do not know what is right or wrong.

OK, that’s the story.
Last Thursday, 2 big printing companies agreed on reintroducing the old spelling to all their magazines, newspapers and other publishings and thus caused a new debate in Germany. Now a lot of people try to get the old spelling back and others try to defend the new rules.

I don’t really know what to make of that since I really favour the old rules (hey, it was possible for 65 million people to learn them…why should kids nowadays not be able to keep them in their minds ?!).

Now my question: Has anything like that ever happened in one of your countries and what position would you take if you could decide whether or not to get rid of the new rules and reintroduce the old ones.

I am really curious to know what you think…

Yes, I know that situation, I speak some German as well. You now have a few words spelled like with 3 s I think, quite funny! Quite a few people earned money on that, I suppose:preparing new dictionaries, textbooks, explaning new spelling, making exercises on new rules etc. Well, it happened a few times with the Russian language as well in the 20th century, people just had to get used to it. But not recently, for last 30 years it’s more or less the same.

However now it does seem a waste of time really learning new rules especially with a considerable increase in the volume of new information you have to digest every day. I would’ve voted against it, there are more exciting things to learn and in general to do with your life. But in the long run if not much depends on you, then why bother?

Hi Mistarix,

Many thanks for bringing this subject up — there are quite a number of aspects we could discuss here.
When the latest so-called spealling reform was started by various government related authorities in 1998 there was the notion that something has to be done — the people want reforms. As is so often the case when the government acts with really listening to its people first and then acting many of the new spelling rules make the German language more complicated and harder to learn. As Aranthaa. pointed out quite correctly — now there are words containing three triple consonants (sss, fff, ttt) etc.
Also, the «?» which exists only in the German used in Germany but not in the German used in Switzerland is absolutely obsolete — for example you cannot use the «?» in a domain name. Another fact is that the Germans are the only nation (at least to my knowledge) whose nouns start with a capital letter. This is ignored in many forms of communication such as SMS, chats, in many emails and even modern corporate correspondence.
As usual the Germans are majoring in the minors — is the spelling reform really the most important issue we have to debate? And Aranthaa is right — a lot companies made lots of money because of this reform and now they might make even more money without producing a real value…[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: How many sick days do we get each year?[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Mistarix!!!
Thatnks for such a topic for nowadays Russian Government wants to fo the same with the Russian language… You know, weve got some problems with spelling the words which in the pronunciation have "a" but should be wriiten with "o". Its a very big problem because a lot of people do such mistakes & dont mind that theyre wrong. So, our government has made up its mind to introduce the spellng as you hear it!!! :shock: But that is just impossible!!! I suppose all of you know that Russian is a rich, beautiful & very difficult language...and now some stupid rulers who I think do the same mistakes either want to "ease our life" intoducing so impossible rules!!! I dont know what`s going to happen futher… :?


Thanks for you post, I never knew that the reform with the Russian language was any serious - all the debates 2 years ago looked like a joke, like Zhirinovskiy’s speeches - sheer amusement and then it was all gloriously lost in red tape. Or were our philologists just bored to death in their institutions and wanted to have some fun changing the spelling? Amazing how messy our legislature is, seems they people up there can write any draft of the law and then they just let it boil over there in debates and then it’s just buried under tons of paperwork never going to be executed:-)))
You need a very strong lobby to bring any new law into existence. Anyway Putin’s wife was against the reform, wasn’t she? Do you have any further info, has there been any progress with that? All I seem to find is that in 2002 the reform was postponed for an indefinite time.

Ashamed not to know that myself, the problem is that in writing I’m using more English, than Russian nowadays…It’s required by my company, business correspondence is mostly conducted in English.

So one day I may suddenly find out I’m illiterate when I write in Russian?

In any case, I feel there are huge and more urgent problems in Russia (Gosh, the majority of the country is still poor and there is still a war!) than some illiterate nouveau riches struggling with their suffixes! The suggested spelling is not only ugly and barren as you correctly mentioned, can the government afford the reform at all? As mentioned in my earlier post, such reform can for sure suck a lot of money out of the budget - textbooks, dictionaries, courses, etc, etc, so I don’t think when Putin is in power the reform will ever be ratified - not in the next 10 years at least!

You guys are funny talking about a reform to make language easier. Let’s take a look at how complicated it is for a learner to learn how to read English. Don’t forget there hasn’t been a real language reform in English at all -unless you consider an individual country’s outlook on things like spelling, e.g. American vs. British Eng. It makes things slightly easier, but it does not address the fact that the words are not spoken how they are written. A major vowel change happened from around the 12th century to about Shakespeare’s time which left the spelling rules behind. (There was an attempt at changing the spelling in 1650, but it had very little influence.) As for the grammar, that seems to go in trends, for instance the helping verb ‘do’ was almost non-existant 200 years ago. ‘Must’ was the past tense of ‘must’ etc. And then there are the commas. No natve speaker of English can grasp those rules. There are too many gray areas, as well as cultural differences. Again, British vs. American.
Now, I have to learn German, and the new rules are slightly easier when, you think about it. German is an incredibly easy language to read because the words are written how they are spoken. It is difficult, not because of it’s grammar, but the way in which it expresses ideas is so complicated. German is very exact whereas English is more intuitive.
All languages have their idiosyncrasies, though, and to say that German is antiquated because it is the only language to still capitalize its nouns and use ‘?’ is silly.You cannot forget that German is an old language which has it’s traditions. As a foreigner, I like them. It sets it apart from my native English. If a language should be changed, it should be English! But the distance between written and spoken English keeps increasing… Language is liquid, it flows naturally like a river, and when things disrupt it, or a change occurs, it will always seek its bed. And speeking of bed, good night, and I hope I made some sense-

Hi Ray,

Welcome back to Leipzig and to our forum!

You clearly have made some very good points comparing the German and the English language. Yes, in German we mainly speak as we write and this makes it much easier for a learner — it’s much more difficult to get used to the arbitrary pronunciation of many English words. Yet, I think Mistarix’s initial posting was more about the absurd way in which we Germans are trying to reform our spelling rules. I can see parallels to the current attempt to introduce social reforms: We wait and procrastinate until following the principle «We change when the pain to change is less than the pain of remaining as we are.» — meaning we knowingly ignore all the changes going on around us and then comes the moment when we try to implement radical revolutionary shifts. By «we» I refer to the Germans a nation and it is obvious that reforms are introduced by our government and it’s the people’s job to complain and tell the government what they don’t want without being able to offer any alternative.
But back to our spelling reform — I’m sure that the “?” is outdated and it’ll be a quesion of time until it vanishes from our alphabet no matter whether it’s still used by a number of institutions and authorities.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: How many copies of the report do you need?[YSaerTTEW443543]