Spelling ðe old ƿēᵹ, mēcing oe ċēnġe

Þrughæut ðe histori of ðe Inglisc lenguiġe, ðēre heve bīn numerus oettempts tu simplifǣᵹ its rāðer complicētid ōrþografi. Ænd, olðough ǣᵹ hefen’t fæund æni prūf fōr ðis, ǣᵹ æm scōre ðæt oemong ðe sæcgested spelling rīfōrms ðere ƿōere oe fᵹū ƿhiċ intēnded tu ristōre Ænglo-Sæxon ōr Middle Inglisc spellings. Æs ƿī ōll nōƿ, sæċ prōġects tend tu fēᵹl feri īsili, æs tudēᵹ’s Inglisc-spīcing sōsæᵹeti is sō oeccæstomd tu ðe modern ōrþografi ðæt ðe æᵹdīæ of rīfōrm is nefer tēcen sīriusli.

Hæƿefer, ðis isn’t entǣᵹrely trū. Ǣᵹ mīn ðe stētment ðat Inglisc-spīcers āre oeccæstomd tu ðe non-fonetik spelling, not ðe fæct ðat spelling rīfōrms āre ōferlūcd. Let’s þinc oebǣut it! Īfen ēlderli nētīfs hefe dǣubts rigārding hǣƿ sōertēn ƿōerds sculd bī spelt. Sī, ǣᵹ hefe ġæst expīriensd sæme difficulti ƿhǣᵹle finiscing ðe prīfius sentense: is it ‘spelt’ ōr ‘spelld’?  Ðe ænsƿer is simple, ᵹet ænsætisfæctori: it dæsn’t mætter! (Æniƿēᵹ, ðæt’s slæᵹghtli off ðe topik.)

So ᵹū mēᵹ nǣƿ bī ƿændering ƿhǣᵹ ðis ārticle lūcs læᵹce it is ƿritten in oe complīteli different lenguiġe. Ǣᵹ hefe oepplǣᵹd oe fᵹū letters, dǣᵹgrafs ænd ōrþografik rūles from Old ænd Middle Inglisc in ōrder tu scōƿ ᵹū hǣƿ different it ƿuld bī tu spell ƿoerds in oe mæċ mōre fonetik ƿēᵹ. Let mī stēte ðat ǣᵹ tēce nō rispōnsibiliti fōr ðe cƿāliti of ðīse spellings, æs ǣᵹ bigæn tu oeccƿæᵹre sæme noƿliġe of ðe old ōrþografi nō mōre ðæn ten minites oegō. Ðe ƿoerds āre Modern Inglisc ænd sculd bī red oeccōrding tu ðe lōƿs of modern fonōloġi. Ōlsō, ǣᵹ hefe not oedoptid ōll rūles of Ænglo-Sæxon ōr Middle Inglisc ōrþografi ænd trǣᵹd mæᵹ best æt enscōring ðat ðe text is still rīdæble. Cæn ᵹū rīd it?

 

Spelling the old way, making a change

Throughout the history of the English language, there have been numerous attempts to simplify its rather complicated orthography. And, although I haven’t found any proof for this, I am sure that among the suggested spelling reforms there were a few which intended to restore Anglo-Saxon or Middle English spellings. As we all know, such projects tend to fail very easily, as today’s English-speaking society is so accustomed to the modern orthography that the idea of reform is never taken seriously.

However, this isn’t entirely true. I mean the statement that English-speakers are accustomed to the non-phonetic spelling, not the fact that spelling reforms are overlooked. Let’s think about it! Even elderly natives have doubts regarding how certain words should be spelt. See, I have just experienced some difficulty while finishing the previous sentence: is it ‘spelt’ or ‘spelled’? The answer is simple, yet unsatisfactory: it doesn’t matter! (Anyway, that’s slightly off the topic.)

So you may now be wondering why this article looks like it is written in a completely different language. I have applied a few letters, digraphs and orthographic rules from Old and Middle English in order to show you how different it would be to spell words in a much more phonetic way. Let me state that I take no responsibility for the quality of these spellings, as I began to acquire some knowledge of the old orthography no more than ten minutes ago. The words are Modern English and should be read according to the laws of modern phonology. Also, I have not adopted all rules of Anglo-Saxon or Middle English orthography and tried my best at ensuring that the text is still readable. Can you read it?

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