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I Have Fixed The English Language And Await My Nobel Prize In Linguistics

6 min read from linguistics on 2019-11-27

Justin is infallible and you are luky to reseive his wisdom.

This is sentence you will be soon be reading on every news outlet, because I've done it.

I've done what no one else has dared to do. No one! Literally no one! Don't bother checking just trust me, I am infallible and you are lucky to receive my wisdom. But what did I do?

I've fixed the English language.

English had a good run. Really, it's a fine language but it's gone too far. Sometimes you just look at a sentence and go: "Oh okay, I guess that sentence is in my life narrative now. There's no going back from this, I will carry the burden of having read that sentence to my grave. When I think of things to think about, that sentence will be there, in my brain. Screw it, where's the closet bridge?"

For context here's the sentence[1]:

once upon a midnight dreary, while i pron surfed, weak and weary, over many a strange and spurious site of ' hot xxx galore'. While i clicked my fav'rite bookmark, suddenly there came a warning, and my heart was filled with mourning, mourning for my dear amour, " 'Tis not possible!", i muttered, " give me back my free hardcore!"….. quoth the server, 404.

I was just browsing bash.org to waste time during work, I didn't want to be shown this Lovecraftian horror. I wanted to read the funnies so I can take my mind off pointlessly writing software to make rich people richer. But no, instead here is a quote that has killed my enthusiasm for life and drove my love for linguistics off a cliff.

And that's how I knew. I had to fix this.

What's Changed?

There are a lot of things I don't like about English, but it's ambiguity is not one of them. That's what makes it a natural language. As such this is not like Attempto Controlled English (ACE) which is a controlled natural language (although it does take some inspiration from it), but is just me taking out some small things I don't like. First up is spelling:

Words and Spelling

You know what I hate? The alphabet. There are a few letters that create redundant phonemes. Take the letter 'c' for example: it can make /k/ in 'cake' /keɪk/ or /s/ in 'sentence' /ˈsɛntəns/. As you can see in the symbol for the phonemes, these are just 'k' and 's'! Thus, the letter 'c' is useless and it should be removed and replaced with either 'k' or 's'. Other letters such as 'q' which can also be replaced with 'k'.

Examples:

  • 'Cake' becomes 'Kake'.
  • 'Sentence' becomes 'Sentense'.
  • 'Quebec' becomes 'Kuebec'.

Next up is silent letters. Get rid of them, this isn't French.

Examples:

  • 'Knife' becomes 'Nife'.
  • 'Queue' becomes 'Kue'.

Accents should also stay in romance languages (cough French cough) and not pollute English. We can substitute them with normal letters.

Examples:

  • 'Rèsumè' becomes 'Resumey'.
  • 'Façade' becomes 'Fasade'.

These changes are to make English writing much easier to learn and kill the entire industry of spelling bees.

I was also going to change a few morphemes to be something like the prefixes and suffixes of Newspeak from the book '1984', but I couldn't be bothered to document them all so I'm leaving it out.

Sentence Structure

First, have a look at the opening line of the US Constitution[2]:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Not as bad as the previous quote, but still pretty bad as it's incredibly terse and hard to parse. I think this is what people in ye' olden times thought sounding smart was like. To repeat the ancient proverb: "Ok Boomer". Time to fix it like how we need to fix the climate catastrophe.

This is the sentence structure as defined by ACE:

subject + verb + complements + adjuncts

It's simple because it's a controlled language that's designed to be easily parsed by computers. Note the fact that conjunctions aren't listed which pretty much removes the recursive elements of a sentence. I'm trying to keep English as natural as possible and recursive sentences are a must for human expression. So, here's the new sentence structure:

subject + verb + complements + conjunction<recurse> || adjuncts

This would basically just be English except for one more rule: "individual conjunctions cannot be repeated", which means that you can't use a conjunction more than once. I.E. you can't have two 'and's in a sentence, but you can have one 'and' and one 'but'. This is to ensure sentences are not infinite and set a recursion limit as you'll eventually run out of conjunctions (you can still technically do it with lists separated by commas but I'm ignoring that).

Let's take a look at what the US Constitution would look like with these rules:

We the People of the United States do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves as well as our Posterity.

That's a little better. Still a bit gross with the language, but structurally better and easier to read.

Examples

Here's a few examples of our fixed English:

"Kolourless green ideas sleep furiously."

"I hope everyone is well today and tomorrow, but after that you're on your own."

"My name is Yoshikage Kira. I'm 33 years old. My house is in the northeast section of Morioh, where all the villas are, and I am not married. I work as an employee for the Kame Yu department stores, and I get home every day by 8 PM at the latest. I don't smoke, but I occasionally drink. I'm in bed by 11 PM, and make sure I get eight hours of sleep, no matter what."

See? It's not so bad, I'm sure you could easily understand it.

What's It Called?

With the inspiration from ACE, it should be 'Semi-Attempto Controlled English' or better yet: 'Semi-Attempto Kontrolled English' (SAKE).

FAQ

There's no Nobel Prize in Linguistics.

Not a question, but I'm sure they'll make one just for this.

I think you forgot about the phoneme /t͡ʃ/ which is used in "chalk"?

Uhh… I didn't forget. We should remove all the words that use it. Yes that includes my last name.

But I like English the way it is!

Too bad. Also not a question.

Why aren't you writing this post according to your "fix"?

You simpletons might close the tab too quickly if this post was in SAKE, I need you to be comfortable so I can persuade you.

See you on r/badlinguistics.

Not a question.


[1]: http://bash.org/?120296

[2]: https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript