As I see it, Peter's funny re-spelling of Schadenfreude *as pronounced in AE* wasn't intended to be all that precise. Part of the whole point here has been that using only spelling conventions, as opposed to, say, IPA, is only a rough system of transliteration. But IMO it also wasn't incorrect, since many AE speakers don't distinguish between short O as in "shoddy" and /ah/ as in "father."
In fact the suggestion of "bath" is misleading for AE, where that word has a short A. (But it's no worse than all the BE Berlitz books that write -ar- when they mean /ah/, etc.)
I take your point that Spanish is much _more_ phonetic than most languages, but even there you might be interested to know that the sound-spelling correspondence isn't absolute. Not every letter has only one sound: fino /n/, finca /ng/; campo /k/, cesto /s/ or /th/; donde /d/, lado /th/; puro /r/, rosa /rr/. Nor is every sound represented by only one letter: bolsa, vino /b/; luz, luces /s/ or /th/.
Reminds me of a sign I saw once: "No votar basura." A misspelling for "botar" (throw), it actually meant something like "Don't vote trash." (-:
Thanks for cluing me in on Mecklenburg, which I would never have guessed. It may come in handy since I'm trying to trace some ancestors to a village near there.
Won't anyone reassure me (or disillusion me) about French O?