Joel at Far Outliers has two posts on a very interesting subject: what is the best way to write a language? Specifically, should you stick to the “scientific” method of one symbol per phoneme, or should you use a “messier” method that may suit the speakers better? I have long thought that “one symbol per phoneme” was a needless goal that has resulted in excessively elaborate alphabets, frequently requiring special symbols that make it difficult to write the language using normal keyboards and printers, and Joel agrees:
People could write fewer vowels and consonants than would be optimal in isolation, while relying instead on sentential, semantic, or social context to reduce ambiguity. But this approach would make linguists feel rather less useful.
A simpler, underspecified writing system would allow more Yapese to write their own language without having to run everything by someone with sufficient linguistic training to understand the New Orthography. It would take literacy out of the hands of experts and give it back to the people who need it most.