[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Fall 1983 p9]
Also on this page: Cue Learning, Spellin' Bees, Wise sayings and worthy quotes.]
[Edward Rondthaler: see Journals, Newsletters, Personal View 8, Anthology, Bulletins, ALC web.]

Settle Your Differences - in Unity There is Strength,

by Edward Rondthaler, DFA*

*Board Chairman, International Typeface Corp, New York, N.Y.

The lead article in the winter issue, 1981, of SPB suggests that adoption of the Metric System may serve as a model for implementing spelling reform. Fifty years ago, such a model would have been helpful. Today it has little relevancy.

Our gradual switch to Metric calls for disruptive changes in industry as well as broad and upsetting re-education of the public. Those who feel that spelling reform must travel a similar path are simply out of touch with the technical realities of the written (printed) word as it is produced today.

Let me repeat what I have been saying again and again to ears that do not hear: Long before there is any agreement on the precise form that reformed spelling should take, all photo-typesetting machines, digital composers, and the various methods of computer print-out - which constitute 90% of everything we read - will have more than enough computer capacity to accomodate a program that automatically converts traditionally spelled input into output spelled in whatever reformed system is ultimately settled upon and adopted.

Those of us involved with typographic research and development know that the word processing and printing industries, with little or no extra effort on their part, will be able, when authorized, to saturate the adult population with what might be called "learning from the top down" rather than, as in Metric, from the bottom up. Readers will find themselves surrounded by digestible doses of reformed spelling which they will be able to read even tho they have not previously learned to do so. Authors, reporters, secretaries, typesetters, and others, typing manuscripts in traditional spelling on word processors, computerized typewriters, etc. will find that by the turn of a switch their traditional typing is automatically converted into typewritten or typeset reformed spelling - of stage SR1, SR2, SR3, or SR50.

This is not a dream. Certain keyboards in New Jersey's Ocean County College can be plugged into this system today. The conversion program has been written. It works. It is by no means finalized, but it is experimentally operable. It takes care of plurals, possessives contractions, and, to a very large extent, homographs. It presently embraces the 45,000 most used English words, and can be expanded or adapted to any system of spelling reform using our 26 (or fewer) Latin letters - without diacritics.

At present, the program is being held "on ice" until it is needed for either experimental or full-scale use.

We in the printing industry have our act in hand. It is our contribution to spelling reform. If the reformers and other concerned parties had their contribution lined up as well the printing industry spelling reform would truly be just around the corner.

My message to! SPB readers: Settle your differences so that you can present an agreed plan to Congress (and other English-speaking legislatures) who, in turn, will issue the authorization that will permit us, the graphic communication industry, to get going. We're prepared to undertake what you incorrectly think will be the hardest part of spelling reform.


[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Fall 1983 pp10-12]
[Note: this section is set to display International Phonetic Alphabet characters. If your browser over-rides this setting, by default or by choice, the IPA characters may not show.]
[Emmett Betts: see Anthology, Bulletins.]

Learning Word-Perception Skills: II Cue Learning,

by Emmett, A. Betts, Ph.D, LL.D.*

*Winter Haven, Fl.

Learning word-perception skills requires different types of strategies and versatility in the application of them. Learning to categorize, or classify, somewhat consistent spellings (e.g. each-meat-cheap-lean) is effective for the perception of about one-fourth of the commonest monosyllables and an undetermined percentage of embedded syllables (e.g. ten in tension /tenshən/ and fy in intensify /in-'ten-sə-fī/). Another type of strategy is learning to use crucial cues (e.g. all of ball-call-tall) to words which do not fit basic spelling patterns (e.g. duck-must or week-keep).

Basic spelling patterns tend to be valid at the syllable level (e.g. bat-battery /'bat-ə-rē/). Basic cues tend to be valid at the letter-phonogram level (e.g. oi /oi/ of noise /noiz/.

Cue learning facilitates the perception of words which do not fit 'the (c)-v-c pattern - at-cap, set-chest, it-big, hot-box, bug-rush - category:


Cue learning provides the keys to the perception of exceptions to the (c)-v-c plus final e-same-take, time-pine, nose-poke - category:


In the above list, the diphthong /oi/ in noise is often confused with /ō/ because of the final e, resulting in the response nose, for noise. The double ee in sneeze, of course, may be reinforced by the final e cue. The final e of edge may be a perceptive hazzard for some pupils.

Cue learning, of course, overlaps category learning. In the fine-time, fate-made, etc. categories, the final e is the cue. In the it-nip, set-pep, not-hop categories, the vowel-consonant cue is the potent element. Usually, the final consonant is doubled for this latter category when the syllable is embedded, as in better /'bet-ər/, matter /'mat-ər/, robber /'rob-ər/, and bitter /'bit-ər/.

The two vowel letters are the cues in the boat-soap, rain-wait, each-seat categories. But these categories have many exceptions, as in bead /'bēd/ versus head /'hed/. These exceptions often include minor patterns of a few words as in head, bread, dead, breath.

Cue learning enters into identification of the sounds of consonant boundaries in a number of ways:

1. Double consonant letters representing one sound, usually in the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern.

rabbit, robber, ribbon
middle, saddle, ladder
off, puff, effort, sheriff
egg, beggar, giggle
full, lull, miller, hall
summer, simmer, hammer
annual, cinnamon, canned, cannon
apple, happen, puppy, copper
correct, horror, hurry, marry
miss, glass, dress
mission, fission, passion
motto, pattern, better, hitter, bitter
buzz, blizzard, dazzle

2. Two different consonant letters representing one consonant sound:

ch/ch/each, much, coach, church
(Note: the phoneme /ch/ represents /t/ plus /sh/)
back, sick, black
often, soften
gnaw, goat, sign, reign
could, should, would
walk, talk, folk
climb, thumb, lamb, comb
rhyme, rhubarb, rhetoric
scene, scent, descend, muscle
listen, whistle, wrestle, castle
who, whole, whom, whose
wrap, write, wrote, wrong

3. Three different letters representing one sound:
bridge, edge, judge, ledge
night, light, fright, caught
antique, mystique, oblique, technique

4. Two different letters (deviant spellings) representing a consonant blend or a sound:

quick, quack, quiet
picture, lecture, fracture
nation, caution, station

In general, perceptual learning is effective to the degree that a minimum of cues is used in reading. The reduction of the stimulus (word) to a single part (e.g. oi in noise) that serves as a cue to perception is the essence of learning word-perception skills.


[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Fall 1983 pp17-18]
Harvie Barnard: see Journal, Anthology, Bulletins.]

Spellin' Bees are the Most Wunnerful Part of Gettin' Educated,

by Harvie Barnard.*

*Laconner, WA.

The final round of the Hoosier State Spelling Bee was about to begin and the atmosphere was electric with ecstatic anticipation! 3,787 contestants had been eliminated, and now just 3 nervously smiling 8th graders were awaiting the final words.

The rules of the contest had been read for the 213th time and 348 anxious relatives and friends of the finalists fidgeted on the folding chairs of the Kokomo Junior High School auditorium. Each of the contestants was asked if she were ready (there were no boys), and all answered in the affirmative.

The head judge then arose and stated that he had a very important change of the rules to announce. Instead of simply spelling the given word correctly, the contestant would also be expected to use the word - if spelled correctly - properly in a complete sentence, in a manner which would indicate its meaning. There were sighs of shocked dismay from the audience, and immediately an almost audible increase in tension pervaded the disturbed quiet of the hall.

The 3 survivors of the statewide preliminaries looked at each other as if subject to an electric shock, paling visibly and nervously twisting fingers and scratching noses. One of them hesitantly raised a hand, and with a nod from the judge, asked if she might be excused long enuf to get a drink of water. So the judges, following a brief consultation, announced that a recess would be allowed while all who wished to do so could take a 5 minute break. When time was up, the head judge rang a little bell and looked quite surprized when it appeared that none of the contestants had returned to the platform.

The school principal volunteered to go find the missing participants. He departed. Fifteen minutes later the superintendent of schools offered to go in search of the principal. After, about 10 minutes of waiting, the head judge hit his little bell a tremendous wallop and shouted quiet. When the buzzing in the audience had simmered down to a sibilant hiss, the judge, who was a local business man and Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, arose very abruptly, and with a firmness which defied opposition, uttered a proclamation which was calculated to change the course of education in the state of Indiana.

He heaved a tremendously long sigh and began, "Whereas we seem to have made a grievous error in expecting these young students to understand the meaning of the words which they were hoping to spell" and here he stopped to clear his throat, "We are beginning to wonder what these damned Bees are all about. If a kid doesn't know what a word means, and can't use it in a way which means anything to him or anyone else, what difference does it make whether he can spell it, or use it for a Yo-Yo, or kick it around for a display of erudition or distinguished scholarship?"

A red faced parent leaped to his feet without warning. He shook a clenched fist at the surprised judge, shouting, "What do we care whether our kids know what words mean. If they can spell 'em, ain't that enuff? Whadayah think we come here for, to learn what words mean or who cares about what the words mean - if we can split 'em, isn't that education?

"Well," said the judge, "I guess that's about it, folks. This Bee seems to have stung about everybody concerned, so I suggest we all go to the bookstore, or library, and locate a dictionary so we can look up the meanings of words - if we're thinking of using them, or maybe just for the heck of it. Having shot its stinger, this Bee is now dead!"


[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Spring 1983 p1]
[Newell Tune: see Newsletters, Anthology, Bulletins.]

Wise sayings and worthy quotes, gathered by Newell Tune.

New ideas are our precious commodity - that's all a writer has.

Do every minor thing you can in a methodical manner - thus creating good habits.

To watch evil and do nothing about is the greatest evil of all. Steve McGarrett.

I'm never tickled more than when I laught at myself. Mark Twain.

The admission of ignorance is the begining of wisdom. Josie.

Space time is a resource that should be used wisely. Tom Selleck.

We have met the enemy and they are us. Barry Cunningham.

The world will step aside for anyone who knows where he is going. Spencer's Mountain.

A thirst for knowledge is never completely satisfied. N. Tune.

What's the point of having ideals if you don't practice them. Benson.

Big surprizes often come in small packages.

Nothing is so exciting as an event whose time has finally come.

To find happiness, you must first make peace with yourself. Education is easy - if you are literate.

Love is doing thoughtful things for each other.


Back to the top.