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Why don't we just spell words the way they sound?

Following a spelling system (even ours in which many words have spelling variants) allows us to communicate better. There are billions of English speakers and the English language is estimated to have at least a million words. Choosing to spell words the way they sound would create an infinite number of variants, as we each hear sounds slightly differently. Kindergartners use what they know about letters and sounds to write messages using invented spelling, or spelling words by the way they sound. By learning to stretch out the words to help them hear individual sounds, kindergartners can label a picture. Your child may write "br" for "bear" or "i mad mi bd" for "I made my bed." Using invented spelling actually helps children practice the letter-sound relationships they need for reading. In this very early stage of spelling, the child attempts to communicate a message but the child may be the only one who can decipher the message. That right there is the answer to this question - that our ability to communicate would be greatly impaired if we did not have a spelling system for our English vocabulary.

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