- NU-ENGLISH: A Simpler English Language for the Future by Bill Dommett
As an instructor of English Composition and a teacher of English as a Second Language, I am intrigued by the idea of refining the English language to assist students with ease of learning. I have witnessed so many issues that complicate a learner's journey to perfecting the idiom. Therefore, when presented the opportunity to read NU-ENGLISH: A Simpler English Language for the Future, I gladly accepted.
Dommett has a clear passion for the practical. His background in Microbiology and Information Processing clues readers to his straightforward use of language to convey information. The book navigates the possibility of changing written English for more efficient international usage. Throughout the text, Dommett describes all of his methods and reasons as built upon logic (220). The book has zero fluff and is direct with clear, substantive ideas about improvements, with the support of various tables to display suggestions. Sixteen chapters dissect parts of speech within the language, as well as provide a preface, introduction, and a detailed autobiography. The organization is clear and candid, making it very accessible to readers.
Background information was provided well throughout the introduction and first chapter for readers who are less familiar with [End Page 203] the grammatical functions within English. Dommett explains the inconsistencies caused by newly developed words, changing words, outdated words, words influenced by other languages, words that change from country to country, and homophones (5). This holistic and expansive introduction allows readers from all backgrounds to appreciate the work in later chapters to improve and create universal unity for English speakers and learners. Dommett also proposes a 10 to 15-year transition period in which both the current and new English are accepted as correct (8). Afterwards, the former English should be considered unacceptable and incorrect in schools (8). With a swift introduction, the reader is ready to receive the material.
Dommett begins by suggesting that the English alphabet should be changed to having forty-four characters, as opposed to twenty-six, to allow for a more direct, phonetically accurate representation of all sounds in the language (17). He does a thorough job of introducing these revised letters and explaining the imperative need for each revision. Prior to presenting a lengthy selection of tables, the author guides readers with a foregrounding analysis of the revisions applied to each word or letter. This pattern continues, suggesting the elimination of: all silent letters; the letter "r;" "y" as a vowel; "c" and instead use "k" or "s" to represent the sound; soft "g," and instead use only the hard "g" sound; hard "s," and instead use only the soft "s" sound; irregular verbs; all unorthodox terms for animal groups; homophones by developing new unique words; and more. He advocates maintaining: accents on the same syllables; regular verb rules with simplification; the minimal indication of gender in nouns and verbs; usage of prepositions; and usage of conjunctions. He acknowledges that future generations will encounter difficulty in reading and decoding literature and lyrical poetry, but explains that modern speakers face the same trials when attempting to study Shakespeare (14).
NU-ENGLISH does an appropriate job of making suggestions and conveying ideas in a concise manner. The introductory teaser paragraph acts as an example for the readers to form an idea about the simplicity of the proposed rules. However, I would have liked to see more sample paragraphs later on in the text to display the value of each new proposed rule. Dommett also uses alternative languages, French and German, to demonstrate the functions of improvements for other language. Although this could be understood as beneficial, it was distracting to the main claims of the book. The author described [End Page 204] several rules that apply to the different languages and made an entirely new endeavor for readers to attempt to understand the separate rules and potential changes. Dommett shared intriguing suggestions for the revision of these languages, but should save these claims for a different book.
Overall, Dommett produces a thorough...