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English spelling makes no sense. Let this friendly 102-year-old explain why.

Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

English spelling is a nightmare. "Bomb" rhymes with "calm" and "Tom" but not "comb" or "tomb." "Some" rhymes with "numb" but not "home." This may seem like a petty grievance, but for people seeking to learn the language, it poses a formidable barrier.

And as Luba Vangelova notes at the Atlantic, it's bad for native speakers, as well. Because English spelling is so bizarre, kids spend more time learning it in school, leaving less time to learn other subjects, hurting dyslexic students (who have more trouble in English than in other languages), and reducing the confidence of smart kids who nonetheless struggle to spell.

On average, children in English-speaking countries take over twice as long to reach baseline fluency compared with kids in countries that speak simpler-to-spell languages like Spanish or Finnish. This is why there's no international equivalent of English spelling bees: When you design a language properly, it shouldn't be a weird challenge to get people to spell stuff.

The solution? Spelling reform! The typographer Edward Rondthaler, who died in 2009 at age 104, was a longtime proponent of reforming and rationalizing English spellings and developed the clever routine you see above as a tool to persuade skeptics. Rondthaler promoted a system known as "SoundSpel." You can see it in action in his translation of John Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale" (or, rather, "Oed to a Nietingael"):

Mi hart aeks, and a drouzy numnes paens

Mi sens, as tho of hemlok I had drunk,

Or emptyd sum dul oepiaet to the draens

Wun minit past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:

'Tis not thru envy of thi hapy lot,

But beeing too hapy in thien hapynes,

That thow, liet-wingèd Dryad of the trees,

In sum meloedius plot

Of beechen green, and shadoes numberless

Singest of sumer in fuul-throeted eez.

SoundSpel is hardly the only game in town, though. Vangelova highlights a more drastic proposal called Unspell, which proposes an alternative 13-letter alphabet with which to spell English words simply and phonetically.

Spelling reform sounds alarming, but we'd adjust quickly. As my colleague Matt Yglesias has noted, "Individual stringz of letterz r efforts to express meaningful propositions in an intelligible way … To understand a phrse or paragraf or an entire txt rekwires the use of human understanding and contextual infrmation not just a dctionry." If you can understand Matt's point, you'll have no trouble understanding English after the revolution.