Und hier, was die Engländer zu diesem Thema zu sagen haben... Auszug aus THE WAY WE ARE The Astonishing Anthropology of Everyday Life Margaret Visser:
ENGLISH SPELLING OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE PHTHEIGHCHOUND FOR A GHOTI?
We can all take comfort in the realization that nobody thinks English spelling is easy. For four and a half centuries, those who have resented its complexities have fought for simplification and reform. They have wanted to take it upon themselves to regularize patterns, cut out letters, remove exceptions, or replace the alphabet altogether. George Bernard Shaw could not understand why we should wish to live with a language in which fish might as well be spelled goti (f as in cough, i as in women, and sh as in nation). Taken comes out as phtheighchound (phthisic, weigh, school, glamour, and handsome) .....
Why then have we not rationalized our spelling system? What are we waiting for?
English spelling is a system, and even English spelling is mostly regular: eighty-four per cent of words are straightforward, thirteen per cent decently rule-abiding, and only three per cent so weird that we have to memorize them. But among those three per cent are 400 of the commonest words in the language: gone, done, of, and so on. These weigh heavily against the relative simplicity of the rest. BUT THEY ARE THE LAST WORDS ANYONE WANTS TO CHANGE. The moment a spelling reformer writes ov, WE OPPOSE HIM: English abhors words ending in v.
The assumption most people make is that sound is what spelling expresses. It mostly does so, of course but the way words are written also gives clues to their meaning. The letters sig in signal, sign, design and designate are pronounced differently in each word, but they show the common meaning that relates them. The English system is extraordinarily sensitive to such meaningful sets of letters; where the pronunciation changes, it often keeps the semantic unit intact. We tend over time even to adjust the spelling of words to provide these clues more clearly ... We even keep old spellings because they EXPRESS EMOTION BY VISUAL MEANS ALONE: look at ghastly, ghost and ghoul (vgl. gräulich, das diesen Zweck nicht mehr erfüllt).
What this means is that written English is superb for reading silently. Reading silently is a relatively modern skill; ancient Greeks and Romans, for instance (Anm. U.M: und deutsche Rechtschreibreformer) thought of reading as something done out loud. Today, people usually read more swiftly than they could speak, and without sounding the words even to themselves. WRITING PERFORMS A NEW AND DIFFERENT FUNCTION: IT HAS TO CREATE PATTERNS FOR THE EYES.
... It is in fact impossible to spell purely phonetically: writing is nothing like sound and therefore could not imitate it. (Anm. U.M: Außer im phonetischen Alphabet natürlich ... vielleicht sollten wir das ja benutzen.)
If phonetics were made to govern spelling, which dialect would be represented and so obscure the rest? Consider for example the loss in comprehensibility if cone and conic were spelled (as one new system suggests) kon and kanik (Anm. U.M.: Oder Kaiser = Keiser).
The use of English, even by foreigners, does not seem to have been halted by difficulties in reading and writing it. This is because its spelling system, no less than its grammar and vocabulary, is sensitive, systematic, economical and able to both resist and accomodate change. Usage does change, but gradually, and WITH THE HELP AND CONSENT OF EVERYBODY; ONE OF THE UNPLEASANT ASPECTS OF SPELLING REFORM IS THE MEGALOMANIA OF THE REFORMERS.
English does have anomalies that are impossible to excuse: one linguistic expert complains, for example, about repair, forty and questionnaire. Yet we should realize that attempts to PERFECT the system overall could impair the strengths which we are just beginning to appreciate that it possesses. ...
Diese Einsichten wären den Reformern und Reformfreunden auch zu wünschen.
(Anm. Ich habe den Text etwas gekürzt und habe Versalien und Anführungszeichen anstelle von Kursivschreibung wie im Original benutzen müssen, da ich die Kursivfunktion hier nicht finde.)