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'And--just out of curiosity, why be mean-spirited to
Carroll just 
because
he knows something about Chaucer that is relevant to
this topic?'

Nancy,

I wish you ask this question to Carroll as well.  I
readily admit that I am an amateur of amateurs and
that my comments on Chaucer are my personal reactions
(It could be my assumption when I said that Chaucer's
fluidity arose from the liberties he took in his usage
of the language).  I don't like the tone of commenting
with your nose up in the air to make a point.  I come
here to re-live and reflect upon some of the glorious
moments I have had with English Literature (if not
with T.S.Eliot alone).  I cannot resist giving it back
when it comes to a sparring.  With Carroll, it is a
long time affair and I enjoy doing it ! 

--- Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> First,  I have not been reading this thread:  is
> "menacles" a joke in a
> discussion of spelling or did I miss some point?
> 
> Second, consistent spelling DOES have value.   There
> is no difference
> between thyme and tyme except one letter.  But
> "parsley, sage, rosemary
> and tyme" would be a very different thing from the
> actual lyric, even
> acknowledging the aural sameness.  There is no
> difference between cat
> and cot except one letter and a different vowel
> sound.  But if a dog
> caught a cot, it would be pretty stupid.   There is
> a great difference
> between couth and couthy--because of the y. 
> Spelling is arbitrary; so
> are words, phonemes, morphemes, phrases, sentences. 
> All that makes them
> mean anything is an agreement on what we mean.  So
> there was immense
> value in codifying spelling so everyone who could
> read would have a key
> to meaning.  To treat it as some constriction of
> originality or
> individuality is to miss the structure of writing,
> and it has nothing to
> do with "rigidity."
> 
> An interesting counter example is Scots, which does
> not have a
> nation-wide standard spelling because of its
> exclusion, denigration, and
> removal from schools for centuries.  So it is often
> phonetically spelled
> and varies among writers.  The value of that is that
> Scots also varies
> in words and pronunciation and rhythm throughout
> Scotland, so anyone
> will recognize phonetic Glaswegian if they can
> understand Glaswegian
> (most English speakers cannot at first).  But it
> also means that the
> readership is limited beyond Scotland and sometimes
> within.   
> 
> But since English has not had that divergence into
> many VERY different
> dialects, just spelling as one chooses does not
> represent anything
> meaningful unless it is a specific and sometimes
> idiosyncratic way of
> representing, as in some of Pound or in e.e.
> cummings (and then it is
> mainly words run together or archaic).  If everyone
> did it, those
> versions would cease to have any significance also
> because their
> significance depends on everyone recognizing the
> deviation from
> standard.
> 
> So I do not even see the point of this discussion: 
> it has nothing at
> all to do with language value or possibility for
> distinctive
> representation.  All the words in TWL, for example,
> are in standard
> spelling.  But amazingly the poem was taken for a
> totally new and
> individual voice anyway.
> 
> Consistent spelling is in no way rigid, and it loses
> nothing.  In
> English what makes the most potential for
> originality is either syntax
> or lexicon, not spelling.  For example, there is a
> great difference
> between "so sweet and so cold" and "i shudder when I
> think of the cold
> Irish earth."  Nothing would be gained by a
> different spelling of
> "cold."   (In Scots it would be "cauld," but then it
> would not be the
> English spelling and would suggest some Scottish
> implication:  it would
> still be a standard--not individual--spelling.  And
> then it might also
> mean a weir on a river or or, as a verb, to dam a
> river.)   But this
> variability is based in the history of Scots.  It is
> not the same
> history as English.  I do not see anything at all on
> which your "case"
> rests.  
> 
> And--just out of curiosity, why be mean-spirited to
> Carroll just because
> he knows something about Chaucer that is relevant to
> this topic?
> Nancy
> 
> >>> [log in to unmask] 03/31/06 11:23 AM >>>
> Okay, Mr.Carroll, Thank you for your education !
> 
> 'The very first thing
> to learn in reading Chaucer is that his English AND
> his spelling are, 
> as
> you say "orthodox," though that is a peculiar word
> to
> use of language.'
> 
> I didn't say 'orthodox'.  You said.  I merely quoted
> it !  Please see your earlier email on this same
> subject.  
> 
> I don't care if language needs to be orthodox or
> formal or anything of that kind for me to appreciate
> poetry.  
> 
> The point I wished to emphasize was that with a
> rigid
> spelling we seem to lose something that carry deeper
> associations of the word.  I rest my case there.
> 
> 
> --- Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> > Vishvesh Obla wrote:
> > > 
> > > I don't know if the passage I quoted below was
> > > 'orthodox' usage of English in Chaucer's time, 
> > 
> > Well then, you don't know anything about Chaucer.
> > The very first thing
> > to learn in reading Chaucer is that his English
> AND
> > his spelling are, as
> > you say "orthodox," though that is a peculiar word
> > to use of language.
> > Chaucer wrote STANDARD English of his time and
> > region. "Tyme" has TWO
> > syllables. If you don't recognize that, then you
> > can't recognize that
> > Chaucer writes standard iambic pentameter.
> > 
> > It wasn't spelling that changed. The LANGUAGE
> > changed. 
> > 
> > Carrol
> > 
> 
> 
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