[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Fall, 1980 pp15,16]
The Sensible Solution to Simplified Spelling:
One Sound-One Symbol,
by Hugh V. Jamieson.**Dallas, Tx.
*A paper presented at the 2nd Simplified Spelling Society Conference, Nene College, Northampton, July, 1979.
What is functional literacy? According to one modern dictionary, it is the ability to read well enough to function in a complex society. In Dallas the School Board has also included mathematics, citizenship, science, and health as part of a basic education.
A functional ability in mathematics, citizenship, science, and health has, by the very nature of things, to be accomplished by a functional use of reading and writing. However, the broad use of mis functional symbols to form words has been a tormenting handicap during the whole development of language.
A child is born with an amazing instinct for logic, starting with how he gets his first meal and lasting until he begins learning to write words he has just learned to speak. From then on he is forced to cultivate illogical reasoning by our present spelling system.
Students representing thirty North Texas Counties, for many years, have been attending the Dallas News Spelling Bee. They misspell an average of one out of fifteen words. For the thirty best out of one hundred thousand, that is not a very good indication of a high literacy average.
And there is one development occuring, as seen in magazine advertisements, on which educators should take prompt action. Before long printing machines will be turning out newspapers one completely spelled word at a time from a bank of prespelled words, all using the present illogical spelling system.
Believe it or not, by a thirty-thousand word 'one sound-one symbol' dictionary, I have shown that there are over sixty-thousand misuse of symbols in our present spelling system. That is why it takes from kindergarten through high school for the average child to become functional in reading and spelling.
I have discovered that our alphabet has an even forty symbols that are each recognized universally for one particular sound. Unfortunately, they are misused so very often for other sounds in other words that our spelling has to be learned by rote and not by a system.
In this presentation, I will describe a workable 'one sound-one symbol' system for spelling the English language.
The first thing we require are symbols to exclusively represent the Long Vowel sounds. The capital letters A, E, I, O, and U (but don't say yU) are the best symbols for the long vowel sounds because they invariably are responded to with those sounds.
Here are some examples:
Long AIn our present spelling system, the vowel letters are used to represent a wide variety of different sounds. Using the capital letters to represent the long vowel sounds provides a unique and readily recognized symbol for pronunciation and spelling.
bA kr (baker), e ju kA shun (education), 47 stAts (47 states), dAn jr (danger), bAthh (bathe).
frE (free), siks tEn (sixteen), ab sun tE (Absentee), rEd ing (reading), prE am bul (preamble), u grEd (agreed).
be hind (behind), ek sIt ing (exciting), rIt ov lIf (right of life), tIm (time).
chOk (choke), sOl (soul), felO (fellow), fOr un (foreign), wOr (wore), fOrs (force), Or u tOri (oratory).
mUv munt (movement), trUthh (truth), sank chU eri, (sanctuary), kon stu tUshun (constitution), skU nr (schooner ).
However, it is equally important that the lower case vowel letters also each have one unique sound represented by that symbol. Thus, we must learn to use the little a as in at, little e as in end, little i as in it, little o as in on, little u as in up. That is: a(t), e(nd), i(t), o(n), and u(p).
Here are some examples:
short aIn our present spelling there is no way of telling whether a capital vowel letter at the beginning of a word or the beginning of a sentence is to be pronounced as a long or short vowel. In my phonetics this will be corrected by a singular quote mark after the capital letter meaning it is to be pronounced as a short vowel.
grat tu tUd (gratitude), alfu bet ik (alphabetic), plat fOrm, avu nU (avenue), fash un (fashion).
reg yu lAt (regulate), nev r (never), ben u fak tr (benefactor), sin ser uti (sincerity), er (air).
dam ij (damage), di rekt link (direct link), ri stOr (restore), yirz (years), hir (here), fir (fear).
pol usi (policy), hord (hard), kom mun welth (commonwealth), kon grus (congress), porti (party).
in nuf (enough), sug jes tid (suggested), sov run (sovereign), un dr (under), dek u dunt (decadent).
For example:So much for the long and short vowels. Now we come to the one letter in our alphabet that is never identified as a letter with the same sound it identifies in words. Whether you realize it or not, the response to 'r' is always the same as 'ur'. Therefore the 'r' symbol is always the sound with or without a preceeding vowel such as burn or bring.
Hiz nAm iz A'nderson (His name is Anderson).
E'vrithing iz redE tU gO (Everything is ready to go).
Here are some examples:The next symbol to examine is 'au'. The 'au' sound is a definite vowel sound, probably as well identified in the word automobile as any. Why does a dictionary use a confusing diacritic over a symbol that normally represents another sound, to represent identically the same sound in words like walk, talk, and balk?
in klOz hr (enclosure), fig yrz (figures), wrk (work), ad vr tIz rz (advertisers), wrld (world).
Here are some examples of the 'au' sound:symbol 'oo'
au thhr (author), aul (all), naut (nought); wauk (walk), lau lus nus (lawlessness).
The double-o symbol in our present spelling represents so many sounds in so many different words few people can think off-hand of a single definite sound for it. Well, it has one exemplified in the word 'book,' and another in 'boot.' The teaching of English has never included the teaching of individual parts of words. It should be done and is easy to do for the first time in 'one sound-one symbol' spelling.
Here are some uses of the oo-symbol:Now let's examine the digraph symbols. The 'ch', 'sh', 'th', 'thh' are digraph symbols that have been accepted in our language for over 500 years and their combined sound is different from the sound of any of the letters alone.
stood (stood), roorul (rural), sik yoor uti (security), poor (poor), in shoor uns (insurance).
symbol 'ch'The only difference between 'sh' and 'zh' is that 'zh' is voiced.
vouch (vouch), cher uti (charity), kwes chun (question), chal unjd (challenged), mon or ki (monarchy).
washing (washing), shIn (shine), ri tal EA shun (retaliation), shal (shall), shAv (shave).
that (that), then (then), ther (there), thOz (those), thEz (these).
helthh (health), hundrethh (hundredth), brthhdA (birthday), grOthh (growth), strengthh (strength).
symbol 'zh'For the symbol 'ng' you need no diacritic. Just use the plain 'ng.'
kon fyU zhun (confusion), du vr zhun (diversion), ri vizh un (revision), imr zhun (immersion), eks trU zhun (extrusion).
symbol 'ng'The dictionaries show the two symbols 'oi' and 'ou' in their pronunciation keys, so just listen to the sounds as spoken by men of unquestioned literacy.
gOing (going), yung (young), bangk (bank), bang (bang), swing (swing).
symbol 'oi'Here are two more sounds using digraph symbols:
vois (voice), chois (choice), void (void), im broil (imbroil), soil (soil).
u lou (allow), hou (how), u bout (about), hous (house), pour (power), dout (doubt).
symbol 'yU'In the last four symbols, 'oi', 'ou', 'yU', and 'yu', the individual letter sounds are recognizable, but are so blended in pronunciation they seem justified in being listed as separate sounds. If desired, the following digraphs might also be considered as separate sounds: 'er' for 'air', 'ir' for 'ear', 'Ir' in 'tire', 'or' for 'are', and 'Or' for 'ore'.
kon trib yUt (contribute), u byU zd (abused), fyU (few), byU ti (beauty), hyUj (huge).
mil yun (million), man yu fak chr (manufacture), reg yu lAt (regulate).
This presentation was made primarily to show and convince you that we do have a perfect sound-to-symbol relationship which would completely eliminate the confusing relationships in our present spelling.
If anyone thinks any English word cannot be spelled correctly using these symbols exclusively for the one sound herewith assigned to them, please send them with your pronunciation on tape and I will show you how with 'one sound-one symbol' it can be done.
Now ladies and gentlemen of the Second International Conference on Reading and Spelling you have the means to bring our spelling out of its 400 year old morass of confusion.
I will give you free distribution rights for use in England for all the material I have, if you recognize that 'one sound-one symbol" fonetic spelling is the only correct logical system for English. I strongly urge its adoption and use, beginning right away with the new spelling of all two letter words. After that gets a good start, introduce the three letter words. If that much catches on, future adoption of the whole system is assured. If it doesn't catch on, let them continue riding in the 16th century ox cart.
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