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Will we go to the café or the caphe?

Will we go to the café or the caphe?Language changes and modernizations are a fact of life.

Wikipedia maintains a long list of spelling reform efforts. Many of these reforms were designed to ease the task of children or immigrants becoming literate. But especially today, integrating a language globally is critically important to any country or language group wanting to participate in the age of globalization.

Such were the considerations in Vietnam, when it was announced in August 2011 that the Vietnamese alphabet would be expanded to include the letters F, J, W, and Z.

While the Vietnamese script was based on Latin, it lacked these four letters. However, according to VietNam News, these letters did get used in foreign loan words, and there were other work-arounds: "W" (ve dup) is sometimes used in place of "U" in abbreviations. In informal writing, "W," "F," and "J" are sometimes used as shorthand for "QU," "PH," and "GI".

A week after the Department of Information Technology's claim, the Vietnamese Ministry of Education nixed it. The reasons? Cultural heritage, lack of money, and a proud tradition of not adhering to new regulations.

Or, according to Johnson, maybe it was just that inertia won out.

Interested in more? Take a look at some of our other articles about languages, laws, and cultures:


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