The English Language Needs More Letters

Patrick Kissel, Reporter

English spelling is notoriously inconsistent, with virtually every letter representing a whole variety of sounds, and letter combinations changing meaning depending on which word that letter combination appears in. The English alphabet is also one of the shortest of all Latin alphabets with no accent marks, or any extra characters outside of the basic 26 from which all other Latin alphabets are derived.

The relative simplicity of the English alphabet merely provides a false sense of security for its learners, as its simplicity makes it difficult to discern how to pronounce words someone reads, or how to spell words someone hears. This fact creates a difficult situation, as English is the dominant language on Earth, and yet notoriously difficult to learn for non-native speakers. In order to simplify the English language to make it easier to learn, English spelling should be streamlined, and more importantly the English alphabet should be expanded to even better simplify spelling.

The English alphabet was not always a mere 26 letters. A whole slew of letters, including æ and þ which went out of use after the advent of the printing press, which had no such characters for these letters. Icelandic still uses three extra letters no longer used in English, including þ, ð and æ. Norwegian and Danish also use æ, as well as ø and å. German uses ß and many other alphabets using the Latin alphabet use accents, including German, Dutch, French, Spanish and Italian.

In this plan, there would be the addition of four new letters, þ, ð, æ and œ — and Old English character representing the short e sound. Þ would represent the unvoiced version of th like in the word through. Contrarily, ð, or Ð when capitalized, represents the voiced version of th like in the word though. Æ, or æ when lowercase would represent the short a sound like in the word apple and œ or Œ when capitalized would represent the short e sound in words like eat. This would greatly streamline English spelling, and make pronunciations far clearer.

Finally, the overall spelling would be reformed. The letter C would no longer represent sounds made s, or k. The primary use of C would be for the letter combination ch, as it would no longer have its own letter. Also, overall spelling needs to be reformed to accommodate the new letters.

English spelling is difficult, and not only for nonative speakers, but also for native speakers. In order to streamline the language, and prevent confusion and spelling mistakes, these reforms should be adopted to remove at least a few elements of confusion from the English langauge.