The first English writing system using the Roman alphabet was developed in the 7 th century, after St. Augustine brought church Latin to the saxons in Kent in 597. The language and spelling have both changed a great deal since then. They did not start to resemble current usage until… Read More
It is well known that English words derive mainly from old German and Norman French, and that its alphabet of 26 letters makes it impossible to represent its 43 ½ speech sounds with just one symbol. But that is not why many English spellings, such as ‘daughter’, ‘brought’ and ‘people’, are… Read More
To understand the nature of English spelling today you need to probe beneath the surface. For a start there is the English language itself. In some respects this resembles a building, with an Anglo-Saxon foundation, a superstructure that in many respects is Norman-French, and fixtures and fittings acquired from all… Read More
The problems of English grammar and punctuation are relatively easy. But English spelling is quite the reverse - probably the most irregular of all alphabetic systems. Not only can you not tell how to spell a word from hearing it spoken; you can’t even be sure how a word is spoken from the written word – a unique “double whammy”. The reasons for this irregularity are complex and largely historical. But the economic and social costs are serious. English speaking children take on average three years longer to learn to read and write than others and some never succeed. Our dyslexics struggle in a way that Italian and Spanish children do not. Adult illiteracy remains stubbornly high (23%). The English Spelling Society tries to address these problems by: Raising awareness and researching the costs of English spelling. Assessing the effectiveness of the various educational schemes for teaching spelling to children. Offering its own solutions to those are struggling with spelling. Seeking to open minds to the possibility of an eventual reform of English spelling in the interests of improved literacy.