Orthographies in a rapidly changing world:Negotiated compromises between several parties.
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This paper addresses the chalenges of orthograpphy development.To do this,it identifies and discussesthe compromises that must be made in terms of technical linguistic work,the practicalities of reading and the negotiation of the relevant stakeholder's interests.It acknowledges the fact that African writing systems arguably represent the most important features of both linguistic analysis and learning abilities.The work entails not just the linguistic analysis but also testing,at various stages of orthography development,of the effectiveness of the proposed spelling rules.Are readers struggling to understand what they decode?Can they read fluently after a year of practice,or is it slow going still? Do they have to reread some words or phrases and do they alter their pronounciation?The guiding principle is that successful orthographies,like good marriages,are always the result of compromise between readability and representation of the linguistic features of a language.Being visual,writing systems cannot represent the sounds of speech perfectly.They should always be developed with this awareness in mind,so the users can easily access the most important features of their language,in writing.
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