Ever had to explain English spelling rules to someone learning English? For practically every rule, we have a list of exceptions that must simply be memorized, which slows literacy acquisition in both adults and children.
Much to my annoyance, the various English spelling reforms listed at wikipedia fail because sounds don't map directly to letters (and vice versa). The ones that do use a bijective mapping fail because they resort to a different alphabet. That makes you think that the number of discrete sounds (phonemes) in English overstretches our alphabet and we end up having crazy spellings in order to compensate.
English actually only has 42 phonemes. Most of the encoding issues derive from the vowels, long and short. Let's do some simple replacement, we'll say that long vowels just use the letter twice, so 'i' = a short i, 'ii' = a long i. Our phonemes then become:
|Phoneme||Spelling(s) and Example Words|
|aa||a (table), a_e (bake), ai (train), ay (say)|
|k||c (cake), k (key), ck (back)|
|ee||e (me), ee (feet), ea (leap), y (baby)|
|e||e (pet), ea (head)|
|f||f (fix), ph (phone)|
|ii||i (I), i_e (bite), igh (light), y (sky)|
|j||j (jet), dge (edge), g[e, i, y] (gem)|
|n||n (no), kn (knock)|
|oo||o (okay), o_e (bone), oa (soap), ow (low)|
|r||r (road), wr (wrong), er (her), ir (sir), ur (fur)|
|s||s (say), c[e, i, y] (cent)|
|uu||u (future), u_e (use), ew (few)|
|u||u (thumb), a (about), e (loaded), o (wagon)|
|ks||x (box, exam)|
|z||z (zoo), s (nose)|
|eu||oo (boot), u (truth), u_e (rude), ew (chew)|
|ui||oo (book), u (put)|
|oi||oi (soil), oy (toy)|
|ou||ou (out), ow (cow)|
|aw||aw (saw), au (caught), a[l] (tall)|
|sh||sh (ship), ti (nation), ci (special)|
|ch||ch (chest), tch (catch)|
|th||th (thick, this)|
|ng||ng (sing), n (think)|
Let's trii this neu speleeng and see if it is anee geud. The funee theeng is that advertiizeeng alredee uses this: wee goo teu the "Kwik-Mart" and bii sum "Donuts" (yum yum!). Perhaps internet-speek wil sloolee beekum moor liik this oover tiim.
Spelling changes never take off because of network inertia (so much previous output), coordination difficulty (what about the Brits?!?), optimal change determination (well, if we're changing that, we should also change...), et cetera. We can rationalize not changing with a slew of reasons. However, the simple truth is that having already learned English once, we don't ever want to do it again.
And that's why we need to change....