[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Spring 1975, p18]
[Also on this page: The Shape of things to come.]
[See Conference papers.]

First International Conference of the Simplified Spelling Society.

Aug. 26 to Sept. 1, 1975, at College of All Saints, London, N.17, England.

The Simplified Spelling Society was founded in 1908. In spite of its age, this is the Society's first ever conference and so we are taking the utmost care to ensure its success in every way.

The College of All Saints is situated in its own carefully tended grounds in a quiet corner of North London. The accomodations for Conference members is in new buildings built to harmonize with the older buildings.

The College is within three minutes walk of White Hart Lane railway station from where frequent trains carry passengers into the very heart of London in only 18 minutes. It is also close to London's underground and to numerous and frequent bus services connecting up to theatre land, museums, exciting shopping centres, etc.

Members of the Conference are accomodated in wellfurnished, comfortable study-bedrooms, all with hot and cold water. Towels and soap are provided. All meals, including morning coffee and afternoon tea, are provided for Conference members in the College refectory. Special diets and packed meals may be arranged with the caterer. Provision can be made for early morning tea.

We can also accomodate some 'social' members. These may be wives, children, friends, etc. of the Conference members who do not necessarily wish to attend all, or even any, of the proceedings of the Conference.

Parking is available for Conference members on the College grounds and nearby there are ample postal and telephone facilities. There are also facilities for leaving and passing-on messages and mail.

The Conference meetings will be held in the lecture halls of the College. These are equipped with modern audio-visual aids. Tape recorders, film projectors, slide projectors, epidiascopes and overhead projectors are available.

The Conference Chairman is Dr. John Downing. Prof. Downing was formerly Director of the Reading Research Unit of the Univ. of London and is currently Professor of Education at Victoria Univ., British Columbia, Canada. He is also President of the Simplified Spelling Society. Prof. Downing will be reading a paper dealing with the implications of recent research, including his own, into the teaching of reading.

A programme is planned into many aspects of reading, learning reading, and teaching reading. Use hope to include studies of our alphabet, its shapes, functions, origins; spelling and its implications for the beginner and later. There will be sections for modified and adapted alphabets and their influence on the speed and ease of learning to read. There will be a few papers on reading in languages other than English and also in non-Romanic orthographies. We are planning a programme which will widen horizons and also be of practical use and benefit to teachers, college lecturers, educationists, phoneticians, orthographers, and intelligent lay-folk - perhaps even parents.

We hope that prospective Conference members, in any of the categories described above, will write us soon if they wish to present a paper. Details from the Conference Secretary. It is hoped to publish the proceedings of the Conference.

There will be an exhibition at which orthographers and others who are unable to attend may, for a small fee, exhibit new work on orthography. Details from the Secretary.

The period of the Conference will extend from Tuesday evening 26th August (dinner will be provided) until Sunday morning 1st September.

Conference Fees.

With full meals and residence
 For the full five night period: £30.00($75.00)
 Per day for shorter periods: £6.50($16.00)
Non-resident but including meals
 For the full period£10.00 ($25.00)
 Per day for shorter periods: £2.50($6.00)
Non-resident, no meals
 For the full period£6.00 ($15.00)
 Per day for shorter periods: £1.50($4.00)

These charges also include free membership of the Simplified Spelling Society until January, 1976.

All fees should be paid and cheques cleared before June 30th to allow us to make complete arrangements with the College. Please make out cheques, etc. to Simplified Spelling Society and not to any individual.

Please address all letters to: S.S.S. Conference Secretary, London.

-o0o-

Spelling Reform: the Shape of Things to Come.

Since the first rationalisation of English spelling proposed in the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth - yes, as far back as that - literally hundreds of reform schemes have been put out for consideration. They have included:

1. The use of the traditional letters of the alphabet in their majority pronunciation together with the omission of redundant letters (x,q) and the use of digraphs to fill the gaps.

2. Letters of the traditional alphabet as above with redundant letters to fill up gaps, e.g. reversion to the late Old English pronunciation of (c) as (tsh).

3. Use of the regular alphabet plus diacritical marks.

4. Use of regular alphabet plus some extra letters, e.g. Daniel Jones' version of IPA or Kingsley Read's Spel.

5. Use of an entirely new non-Romanic alphabet, e.g. Shaw's contest alphabet.

6. Ideographic orthographies, e.g. Bliss's semantography.


These fall into three main classes: (1) Phonetic, (2) Diaphonic, (3) Semantic. It is hard to see a phonetic alphabet prevailing since this would mean either (a) the choosing of one special dialect of English to be the written form over all others, or (b) the toleration of several sets of spellings according to the variant pronunciations in different dialects.

Neither solution would be very satisfactory, although both are possible and, indeed, obtain in other languages. Semantic orthographies are probably ruled out by the sheer bulk of signs which would have to be learned. The number has been reduced to about 3,000 in Chinese but this is still about 1,000 more even than the number of different ways of spelling English words. It is also difficult to see the early choice of a non-Romanic alphabet altho such may come in the future. For practical purposes it would seem that the choice would be a diaphonic alphabet in the range of numbers 1 to 4.

One day fairly soon, someone is going to have to make a decision about spelling reform for English and so it is good that all possible alternatives should be available to them for inspection and testing. One of the most useful functions the Society can perform is to have as comprehensive a collection as possible of these scripts ready and waiting for this day together with all possible records of their functioning - if in fact they have ever been used.

A rational choice can be made only from full knowledge. Who will be the makers of the choice? I should think probably an international commission made up of representatives of English-speaking states together with states which use English as their official language. Its need will probably be sparked off by some kind of official action in one (or more) of the English-speaking states. At present Australia seems to be progressing as if it might be the provoking influence.

What influence will the SSS have on the decisions of some such body? It seems to me that it will have very little influence at all. Such a commission will examine all the evidence available - alphabets, schemes - to see how they will fit in with the variant pronunciations of English. It will probably try to find a scheme which will cover (diaphonically) all of these pronunciations and which will at the same time help to keep the pronunciations of English sufficiently close to remain inter-understandable.

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