[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Fall 1982 p1]

Late News.

See ISD in Newsletters.

International Spelling Day, Sept. 30.

In 1981, International Spelling Day was celebrated in a wide variety of places over the world, and was even proclaimed by the mayor of Detroit.
We hope that Sept. 30, 1982 will extend the public's interest further. It's up to you to arouse interest in your local schools, newspapers, get the public interested in noticing spelling changes, mistakes or simplified spelling in public signs, street or traffic signs, supermarket products such as: Kodak, Sunkist, Mobil Oil, Gro-Mor, Wel-bilt, Tydy-bol, and dozens more. How many can you list? Ask for spelling games, shortened spellings, such as SR-1 in newspapers and magazines, and write feature articles to publicize Spelling Day. Cross out unnecessary silent letters in 884 words, such as: have, give, build, bread, breast, are, dead, deaf, head, health, heaven, heavy, instead, lead, bargain, Britain, captain, mountain, and hundreds more. Eliminating these unnecessary letters could save space and make it easier for children to learn how to use fonics in learning to spell. If you want to see the list of 884 words, let us know and we will publish it.


The second edition of the book, Spelling Reform a Comprehensive Survey of the many aspects of the problems is now available in a limited edition. Price $30.00 plus $2.00 shipping. 304 pp. 144 articles by 72 different authors, among whom are: George Bernard Shaw, !Mark Twain, Sir Cyril Burt, Sir David Eccles, Sir James Pitman, Admiral Jas. D. Watkins and many other educators and writers. Newell W. Tune, publisher (address above)


Members of the SSS are anxiously awaiting news about the proposed 4th International Conference on Reading and Spelling, but plans have not progressed so far as to have definite information as to the place or time. Perhaps more information will be available for our next issue.



Hugh V. Jamieson of Dallas, Tx, former owner of the Jamieson Film Co., author of the Sensibul English Speling Dikshuneri, died May 6, 1982, after a brief illness.

Born in 1889 in Burlingame, Kan., he graduated from Baker Univ. in 1910 with a B.A. degree in Science. He started his film career that same year, borrowing $150 to buy a movie projector.

Moving to Dallas in 1916, he started the Jamieson Film Co. and latter contributed several technological innovations to film processing. In 1942, he became a member of the War Production Advisory Committee for industrial and advertizing film producers and distributors.

Jamieson retired in the mid-1960's, and published his dikshuneri in the early '70's. He was a lifelong member of the Soc. of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. He presented a paper at the 1975 SSS Conference and showed a motion picture at the 1979 SSS Conference.

Survivors include his wife, Primrose, two sons, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild. [See Bulletin.]


Dr. Walter Gassner, of Randwick, Australia, died Dec. 4, 1981. He leaves his widow, Kitty. He contributed a paper to each of the three SSS conferences on Reading and Spelling. No other details are available. [See Bulletins.]


[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Fall 1982, p20]
[John Downing: see Journals, Newsletter, Anthology, Bulletins.]

SSS Conference 3: Implementation of change in English spelling.
Spelling Reform - Pro and Con.

"Spelling Reform - Let's be Practical,"

by John Downing, Ph.D.*

*Pres. Simplified Spelling Soc., Univ. of Victoria, Victoria, B.C., Canada. Presented in absentia.


Obstacles to reforming our spelling: children's opinions - those who are now learning our present spelling, literate adults, stability of present spelling and printing, costs of making the changes, objections by printers (valid or not?), librarians, teachers, employers, etc.

Reasons for making changes: economic, removal of confusion, easier to teach, illiteracy due to inability to cope with erratic, confusing spelling, possibility of accepting changes depends on how practical they are.


Recently we interviewed children aged 6 to 12 in a Canadian city about their views on spelling. One of the questions asked whether or not spelling should be simplified. As many as 45% said "no." Already after only one year in school, this was about the level of opposition to spelling reform. Two main reasons were given by the children. First, "I have worked hard to learn how to spell, and I don't want to do it all over again." Second, "it would confuse people if there were two ways to spell everything - the old way and the new way." These are not novel arguments against spelling reform, but it is interesting to see how early in life these anti-reform motives develop.

Many people from a variety of occupations see the potential benefits of simplifying English spelling, but the majority of men and women in the English-speaking countries are not motivated to bring about the change. If members of the S.S.S. rely on their powers of persuasion to affect public opinion and bring about a democratic change in English spelling they are deluding themselves. The history of the organic growth of English spelling shows that it never has changed in that way. Occasionally some political or lexical authority has produced minor changes based on logical reasoning, but the strongest force for change in English spelling over the past 1000 years has been an economic one. For example, the h got into ghost, ghoul and ghastly because of Caxton's spelling and derivational errors when he had a monopoly of printing at Westminister. The h got out of girl, goat and geese when Caxton's monopoly was broken. Why the h stayed on in ghost, ghoul and ghastly is an interesting academic question, but the main events in the g versus gh seesaw were determined by the economic events of the time.

For the past two centuries, English spelling has been almost entirely frozen. Again this is oft economic reasons. Publishers and Printers stabilized spelling because they believed that their customers wanted words to be spelled always the same way. They were able to produce books, newspapers, magazines and so on with stabilized spellings at a more reasonable price.

But this long period of stability in English spelling is coming to an end. Everywhere we see signs of the collapse of standards of spelling in books and periodicals. Automation of typesetting and the high cost of proofreading now make it impossible to provide stable spelling at an acceptable cost. This breakdown in standards is comparable to that which occurred during the Norman occupation of England in the 11th and 12th centuries. English spelling is becoming erratic again for the same reason.

We can't afford the high price of stability.

Nevertheless, readers prefer stability, and history shows that producers of books and other printed materials strive to return to stability by improving their technology. Then customers can again have stable spelling at a reasonable price.

I believe that we are on the verge of a major change in English spelling because this economically motivated cycle is on the move once again. Therefore members of the S.S.S. should consider forming a committee whose membership would include people from the world of printing and publishing who are concerned with obtaining inexpensive stable spelling for English. Of course, in the modern world there are other considerations than those in the businesses of printing and publishing. But we cannot escape the fact that our ability to enjoy good printed materials depends on their being financially within our reach. Therefore, future changes in English orthography are bound to be once again very much dependent upon technological advances in the printing and publishing industries. The effects of any such changes on education are likely to be great. A committee of the S.S.S. such as I have proposed could include educators and members of related professions who could influence the specific details of technologically motivated changes. The committee should be international so that different parts of the English-speaking world are all served.

Spelling reform? Let's be practical! The next major change in the history of English spelling is around the corner. It's coming, as usual, for economical reasons. If we want to contribute to the coming change then we'd better be in touch with those who are going to make it happen.

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