Monday, August 31, 2009

Edward Rondthaler

One good reason to read the obits is to finally meet folks whom you then wish you had known while they were upright. Edward Rondthaler is such a one.

I wonder if, at the age of 104, he was aware of how greatly the idiot's adventure known as "texting" has served to further his cause. If we produce a generation or two of youngsters who can spell only spontaneous abbreviations, we will have achieved Mr. Rondthaler's goal.

More seriously on the subject of phonetic spelling, the difficulty is in the freezing and thawing. You rule on the correct spelling of a word based on its current pronunciation, and within a few decades, when vocalization takes an inevitable turn (Think of Kate Hepburn's production of the vowel "a" as in "rather" in 20th century movie-speak.), you've to redo it. Oh but hold on. That was rather Mr. Rondthaler's point. Set the rules in stone, not the words, and the resultant fluidity will work forever. Very much what he did with photo-typesetting.

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