I don't really like English (grammatically, that is; not the literature, culture, etc., which make the language worth it), I just have to use it. It's filled with grammatical and orthographic nonsense (and that's when one writes right - no pun intended). May I make a question asking for giving suggestions to improve it, referring failed attempts in the past, etc.? Would it be on-topic?

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    As interesting as the question is, it's not asking about something that is but about something that could be, which is only addressable by opinions and discussion both of which are expected to be avoided here at ELU.
    – Mitch
    Dec 14 '13 at 18:43
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    @Mitch, ignore me, but here we are on meta, where, as far as I know, debates on what questions are on-topic are allowed, though. Dec 14 '13 at 18:54
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    Regardless of whether the question would be on-topic (it wouldn't), and whether it's a good fit for the Stack Exchange engine as such (it is not), may I ask you what the point of such a question would be? To what end would a random bunch of people off the Internet write down their peeves? The language would not change one bit because of that. Not because the suggestions would be inherently worthless, but because the rest of the world would plain not give a rat's tail. You cannot change English through an online straw poll. Or really anything, for that matter. It would be a waste of bytes.
    – RegDwigнt Mod
    Dec 14 '13 at 20:32
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    If you smear yourself with the blood of a rabbit, then write down all your suggestions on a piece of paper and hide the paper under a rock at midnight when the moon is full, then turn around three times with your eyes closed while whispering "Change! Change! Change!" (in your native tongue, if necessary, one word per turn), the language will change. Imperceptibly for now, perhaps, but give it time.
    – Robusto
    Dec 14 '13 at 21:16
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    @ElberichSchneider: This question is perfect for meta. It is the -subject of the question that I am commenting on which is that questions on the regular site about how to change the language are just off-topic here (the community has judged so, look at the history on meta).
    – Mitch
    Dec 15 '13 at 0:57
  • @RegDwigнt, why exactly would it be off-topic? Besides people have good ideas, a change in orthography (and a bunch of contradicting ones in grammar) have occurred in Portuguese in the last few years. In English that has happened before as well. Why shouldn't you, i.e. the experts, have a say on it? Maybe it will work, maybe not, but I think it'd be an enriching question for SE. What do you say?
    – JMCF125
    Dec 15 '13 at 12:23
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    It would be off-topic because peeving disguised as a question has been off-topic from day one. And I might add that the way your question is worded right now, it does not even attempt to pretend to know what a disguise is. As to "have a say on it", see my previous comment. "Maybe it will work" is not an option. It will not work in any way, shape, form or manner. It will only invite a steady stream of "answers" from random passersby that all go "I hate it when X", where half of the time X is perfectly grammatical not just in English but in all languages known to mankind.
    – RegDwigнt Mod
    Dec 15 '13 at 14:31
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    @RegDwigнt: I hate it when people use logic and reasoned arguments in comments. Quite takes the wind out of many sails. Yet somehow they keep on blowing.
    – Robusto
    Dec 15 '13 at 16:34
  • I don't know why you down-voted so much, I'm not making that question, I'm asking if I can. What's wrong about this?
    – JMCF125
    Dec 16 '13 at 12:26
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    @JMCF125: On meta, downvotes do not affect your reputation, and indicate not so much 'this is a bad question' as 'this is a bad idea'. I downvoted to indicate that I think such a question (on the main site) would be laughably out of place. On the other hand, my belief that this question shows a misunderstanding of what 'question' means on Stack Exchange had to be indicated in a comment. Dec 17 '13 at 18:28
  • @TimLymington, but asking whether a question should be asked is good.
    – JMCF125
    Dec 17 '13 at 19:41
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    Just make sure you use the blood of a rabbit, not a rabbi. It's an easy mistake. Wouldn't want a typo to cause a tragedy.
    – Robusto
    Dec 19 '13 at 14:05
  • What are you talking about?
    – JMCF125
    Dec 19 '13 at 14:10
  • @JMCF125: Joke.
    – Robusto
    Dec 19 '13 at 19:30
  • @Robusto, I know it was a joke, I just didn't see the context.
    – JMCF125
    Dec 19 '13 at 20:49

The short answer is no.

The longer answer is that a question like you propose would not have any conceivable right answer, and so it does not fit the SE Q&A format. It would most likely be closed as "primarily opinion-based" because of this.

Alternatively, you might possibly find some people in chat who would be interested in discussing your topics.


There have been numerous attempts to reform spelling in the English language. Nearly all of these have been ignored (Noah Webster managed to make a few changes in one English-speaking region, but he had the advantage of writing dictionaries.) The advent of texting may actually result in a few beneficial changes, tho I can't see this improving the spelling of more than a handful of words.

Similarly, prescriptive grammarians have been trying for at least two centuries to make English speakers obey certain grammatical rules (some of them sensible, some of them unbelievably stupid). For the most part, English speakers have been ignoring these people, as well.

Why would you want to waste your time trying to reform English?

  • I guess you're right, it'd be a waste of time. It's kind of like the human race: destroying itself knowingly but with no limits. (hyperbole alert; but I find it a nice analogy)
    – JMCF125
    Dec 17 '13 at 19:48
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    «The advent of texting may actually result in a few beneficial changes, tho I can't see this improving the spelling of more than a handful of words.». I say the solution is simple: diacritics. They would be weird at start, but would require much less change in writing.
    – JMCF125
    Dec 17 '13 at 19:59
  • @JMCF125, obviously you've never used (or more correctly attempted to use) diacritics, or a language that requires them, on the internet. If you had, you would quickly realize how preposterous it sounds to call them a "simple solution" to anything.
    – Marthaª
    Dec 18 '13 at 0:33
  • @Marthaª, haven't I? I'm Portuguese and write in Esperanto often. See: ŝ, á, â, ŭ, ê, ã... (zoom in to see the brève and tilde, they look like macrons with default zoom). All with linux's default dead keys basing on a Portuguese keyboard. And note: I never forget to place diacritics, unlike many speakers who just drop them. What do you find so hard in this?
    – JMCF125
    Dec 18 '13 at 10:35
  • @Marthaª, from your profile I see you know Hungarian as a native language and live in the USA. Maybe you're just using the wrong keyboard (or wrong operating system, because in Linux you can write diacritics even with those american keyboards - just change some settings and put stickers on the keys).
    – JMCF125
    Dec 18 '13 at 10:46
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    @JMCF125, you must be much younger than me. Also, do you never write emails to people on different operating systems, or to an email list running on software that was antique 20 years ago? The problem has never been one of keyboards (I can set my keyboard to whatever language I want, thankyouverymuch), but one of interoperability. Try submitting ő to many a web form, for instance. (That's not an o-tilde.)
    – Marthaª
    Dec 18 '13 at 14:52
  • @Marthaª, then the problem is theirs, not yours. They should update the system. Unicode has been widespread for years, and its support is increasing. Many recent sites and even blogs support it by default. Yes I'm much younger than you, no need to be haughty.
    – JMCF125
    Dec 18 '13 at 16:12
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    When it comes to communication, breakdowns are always your own problem. There's no point in assigning blame. Dec 25 '13 at 12:41
  • @JMCF125: English spelling is messed up enough that introducing diacritics wouldn't help much. It's not just that we have symbols which stand for many sounds; we also have multiple ways of spelling any sound: red, bread, said, friend. Would rėd, brėad, friėnd be better? Dec 25 '13 at 12:51
  • Those words are not much trouble anyway, [a] and [æ] are interchangeable. I'm talking about stuff like "hiccough". It should be read "hi cow". I'd write it "hícup". ("í" [i] or [ɪ] vs "i" [aj]) Say "bread", would be "bred" ("e" is never a diphthong, no accents required for distinction). Also, have you eaten ghoti lately?
    – JMCF125
    Dec 25 '13 at 23:17
  • @JMCF: You say no accents are required for distinction with "e"? So there's no problem with even, event, Evan, very, menu, Peru? Dec 26 '13 at 1:18
  • @Peter, I don't know, those sounds don't seem as much trouble as the ones of "a" and "i". But alright: even, evént, Évan, véry, ménu, Peru, réd, bréd, frénd. I can't guarantee this would be better, I'm just throwing ideas.
    – JMCF125
    Dec 26 '13 at 19:50
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    Resume, résumé...
    – Mr Lister
    Dec 27 '13 at 10:34

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