[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, 1989/1 p.34 later designated J 10]
Also on this page: John Downing award, Publications available, received, Conferences.

Reports from the Simplified Spelling Society.

1 - Strategy.

At its meetings on 24 September 1988 and 11 February 1989 the Society's committee discussed and accepted the general principles of a Strategy Paper. The following is an edited version of that paper.

1. A pluralistic approach to spelling reform.

The Society itself will never implement a spelling reform or directly determine the future of English spelling. All the Society can do is to persuade policy-makers to introduce a reform within their own sphere of authority. For effective persuasion, the Society should aim to present not a single take-it-or-leave-it reform proposal (to which the easiest response is to say "leave it"), but a range of alternatives that can be used to educate the target audience and perhaps provide a basis for official investigations.

Thus, American spellings, common-word reform, Harry Lindgren's SR1, Bill Herbert's <gh> list, the Society's 1984 Stage 1, Cut Spelling, Revised New Spelling, and other schemes too should all figure, with their pros and cons clearly stated, in the Society's public presentations. This pluralistic approach was adopted in the Society's submission to the National Curriculum English Working Group (published in Journal 1988/3, J9 pp23-26, Section 7). It has the advantage of transcending the constant fissiparous tendencies within the reform movement and maintaining potentially good relations with all interested parties. It would also help counter David Crystal's objection (Journal 1988/2, J8 p34) that spelling reformers spoil their case with an "often unappealing evangelistic manner". The new SSS leaflet hints at such a comprehensive, conciliatory approach, but the Society should henceforth commit itself explicitly to it, and develop its policies accordingly.

2. Activities for the SSS.

Two tasks should now dominate the Society's agenda.

i. Orthographic development.
Some members will wish to concentrate on the development of individual reform proposals, but the Society as a whole needs to coordinate these individual efforts to present a coherent set of proposals. Probably a sub-committee should prepare recommendations for consideration by the main committee.

ii. Public Profile.
Despite all the progress made in attracting serious outside attention in the past 18 months, the Society needs to develop a higher public profile. This requires wider dissemination of printed material, public speaking, the writing of articles for external publications, a presence at conferences, continuing submissions to official bodies, media appearances, representation in other organizations, development of world-wide contacts, all of which has been carried out by a small number of committee members in the past year. The public appears willing to listen; it is up to the Society to make its voice heard.

3. Greater involvement of members.

With the recent influx of new members, it is important for the Society to give as many of them as possible the opportunity and encouragement to play an active part - whether or not they can directly attend meetings in London. The Society should therefore consider preparing materials such as the following:

i Guidelines and outlines for giving public talks.
ii Briefing for research tasks, e.g. spelling analysis, reading problems, misspelling analysis.
iii Study packages, e.g. reading-lists, syllabuses for teacher-training.
iv Guidelines for establishing local groups.
v Guidelines for interaction with outside organizations.
vi Spelling reform exercises, transcription drills.
vii A reporting-back procedure to the Committee.

4. Utopian - but necessary.

It may appear that the above suggestions for the future work of the Society are beyond its present strength. However, they are not all intended for immediate implementation, but rather to give a sense of direction with steps to be taken as and when members feel they have the time and skills required. To attract new members, which is a prerequisite for the future strength of the Society, a sense of purpose and clear aims are indispensable. This paper aims to be a step towards their development.

2 - The Cut Spelling Working Party.

At its meeting on 24 September 1988 the Society's committee approved the setting up of a Working Group to develop a reform proposal based on Cut Spelling. The Working Group has so far met twice, on 10 December 1988 and 4 March 1989.

The Cut Spelling Working Group (CSWG) comprises Paul Fletcher (Secretary), Jean Hutchins, Chris Jolly and Chris Upward (Chairman). Its task is to prepare, if possible by the end of 1989, a Practical Guide to Cut Spelling for adults wishing to master the system. It will not attempt a full linguistic analysis, although readers of the Journal will be aware that that too is gradually emerging (see pp21-29 of this issue, for instance). The CSWG is however subjecting the Cut Spelling forms currently used to critical scrutiny, and will eventually probably not recommend all those that readers may be familiar with. An important task that the CSWG is already engaged on is a systematic survey of the most commonly used words in the language, to establish which can be least controversially cut; some of these words (e.g. who, whom, whose) pose an acute dilemma between compatibility and phonographicity. Future Journals will report on the Group's further progress, but meanwhile readers are invited to continue submitting their views.

[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, 1989/1 p.35 later designated J 10]
[See Journal, Anthology, and SPB articles, by John Downing.]

Commemorating John Downing.

The Simplified Spelling Society is very pleased that the United Kingdom Reading Association is planning to honour the memory of the Society's late President, Professor John Downing, whose major research into the success of the Initial Teaching Alphabet has given the case for the regularisation of English spelling a unique and powerful scientific basis. The honour in which the Society held him may be seen from the obituary published in Journal 1987/3, p6. We are very happy to print the following notice at the request of UKRA:


The United Kingdom Reading Association are appealing for donations to set up a fund to finance the John Downing Award for Reading Teacher of the Year.

John's contribution to the field of reading-teaching and reading-research first gained national his evaluation of i.t.a. This led him to investigate children's thought processes when reading

The very essence of his humanity turned his intellect towards investigating how children learn to read in different cultures and how third world countries could be helped along the road to literacy.

His death in 1987 was a tragic loss to the educational community and if individuals and institutions would like to commemorate and preserve his memory could they please send a donation to:-

The John Downing Award, c/o The Administrative Secretary, UKRA
Edge Hill College, Ormskirk, Lancashire L39 4QP.

Lindgren cartoon

. Harry Lindgren has kindly given permission for us to reproduce cartoons from his Spelling Reform - A New Approach.

Lindgren cartoon.

[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, 1989/1 p.36 later designated J10.]

Publications and Conferences.

Publications Available.

The following publications [wer at the time] available for cost of postage and packing only (please add £1 for dispatch outside the UK

1. Free publicity leaflets: members are encouraged to distribute copies to interested individuals and organisations.
For orders over 50 copies, please send £1 p&p.

2. The CLIE (Committee for Linguistics in Education of LAGB & BAAL) produces a series of working papers, of which Nos.10 & 11 concern English spelling. SSS members may request a free copy of No.11, English and Educational Progress by Christopher Upward (28pp). A catalogue of all CLIE working papers, including No.10 (Michael Stubbs The Synchronic Organization of English Spelling, reviewed by Edward Rondthaler in JSSS J8 1988/2) may be obtained for £l from series editor Thomas Bloor, Modern Languages Department, Aston University, Birmingham B4 7ET.

3. The text of the Society's classic 1948 spelling reform proposal New Spelling (Ripman & Archer, revised by Daniel Jones and Harold Orton) is now available again to members in photocopied form; send £l p&p.

4. The Dictionary of Simplified American Spelling (1986) edited by Edward Rondthaler and Edward J Lias. The system is developed from New Spelling and i.t.a., for use in conjunction with J H Martin's Writing to Read scheme. It is highly recommended as a reference work and for its analysis of spelling problems, and for further research into the representation of pronunciation in dictionaries and the possibilities of a radical reformed spelling system. £2 p&p.

5. Newell Tune's Spelling Reform: a Comprehensive Survey, an anthology of some 140 articles dating from between 1962 and 1982 and first published in Spelling Progress Bulletin. The anthology was compiled with the assistance of SSS members Harvie Barnard and Valerie Yule. 298 pp, £2 p&p.

6. Arnold Rupert's pamphlets School with less pain and School Tax Economy & Better Education, describing an interesting reformed orthography based on an expanded alphabet that exploits the character-definition capabilities of modern word-processors.

7. Harry Lindgren's provocative and entertaining Spelling Reform: A New Approach. £1 p&p

Literature Received.

Publications and papers recently received include:

Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit (ALBSU) NewsletterNo.32 Winter 1989.

Department of Education and Science English for ages 5 to 11: Proposals of the Secretary of State for Education and Science, November 1988.

- Introducing the National Curriculum Council, October 1988.

Dyslexia Contact: The official journal of British Dyslexia Association, Nov 1988.

English Today Vol.4, No. 5 No. January 1989.

UK i.t.a. Federation Newsletter, Spring 1989.

Spelling Action (Australia): issues for Oct-Dec 86, Apr-Sept & Oct-Dec 87, Jan-Mar, Apr-June, July-Sept, Oct-Dec 1988.

Institut für deutsche Sprache, Mannheim Sprachreport 4/88, 1/89.

United Kingdom Reading Association (UKRA) Journal of Research in Reading, Vol. 12 No. 1 February 1989.

United Kingdom Reading Association (UKRA) Newsletter, February 1989.


The United Kingdom i.t.a. Federation.
1980 Annual Conference, Warwick, Fri 13-Sun 15 Oct, theme 'Literacy and the Pre-School Child'. Speakers: Joyce Morris, Tom McArthur, Sue Lloyd, Ronald Threadgall. Fee incl. meals and accomm. £89. Contact Gen Secretary, Ronald Threadgall, Holland-on-Sea, Essex.

United Kingdom Reading Association.
will be holding its 26th Annual Course and Conference at Edge Hill College, Ormskirk in July 1989, with a paper to be given by the editor of the SSS Journal entitled 'Planning a Spelling Awareness Syllabus for Teacher Training. Contact Dr F Potter, Edge Hill College of HE, Orkskirk, Lancashire.

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