[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, 1992/2 pp11-13 later designated J13]
[See Journal and Newsletter articles, Pamflet 15 and Cut Spelling by Chris Upward.]

Launchng th Cut Spelng Handbook.

Report in Cut Spelng from Chris Upward, Chair of th Cut Spelng Workng Group
of th Simplified Spelling Society

On thursday 26 march 1992 th Society held a news confrnce in th imposing - if slytly antiquated - setng of th Vera Anstey Room at th London School of Economics and Political Science. Th purpos was formly to launch th product of over nine years reserch into th fenomnn of redundnt letrs in traditionl english orthografy and th efect ther removal has on its iregularity. Th Society's Cut Spelng Workng Group had concluded its work and was now publishng its findings, undr th informativ if rathr long-windd title Cut Spelling: a handbook to the simplification of written English by omission of redundant letters.

Th event had been asiduusly prepared by th Societys Public Relations Oficer, Leo Chapman, hos many years experience as Londn corespondnt of The Australian wer put to exlnt use, and by Sue Jackson, public relations oficer at Aston University. We had been warnd to expect that only a fraction of th media peple we had invited wud actuly apear, and so we wer not too disapointd at th turnout of 7. Ther efect made up for ther smal numbr. Despite certn tecnicl problms with th OHP, th confrnce went with a swing and jenrated a good numbr of questions. Those presnt receved as handouts a copy of a leaflet explainng th rationale and spelng patrns of CS, and 4 sides of word-bites about english spelng, som of wich it was hoped myt lend themselvs to propagation by th media. Th contents of those four sides ar reproduced at th end of this report.

Beside th Daily Telegraphs doyen of education corespondnts, John Clare, and jurnlists from Jermny and Norway, those presnt included a representativ from th BBC World Service and from Associated Press, as well as Richard O' Mara of th Baltimore Sun. O'Mara's substantial articl was evidntly widely syndicated round th United States, because cutngs and corespondnce subsequently came in from a numbr of states, most tuchngly a bunch of letrs from 10 third-graders at a scool in California. Th BBC World Service aranjed an intrvew on ther european program imediatly aftr th news confrnce, and a secnd intrvew folod for Nijeria, wich was recordd for translation into Hausa to be brodcast later. Associated Press evidntly did a good job ensuring publicity in many local papers thruout th British Iles and furthr afield, including Australia, from wher som enthusiastic responses wer receved.

Responses to th launch and to th CS Handbook ar now being colectd, and wil be editd for circulation to membrs and intrestd enquirers later in th year.

Word-bites distributed to th media at th CS launch.

Side 1


The alphabet, like the wheel, is a key human invention. But English today misuses it as grievously as a square-wheeled bicycle would misuse the principle of circularity.

English spelling is as confusing as arithmetic would be if convention dictated we recorded the sum "two plus two make four" as 2 + 2 = 5, while also writing 2 + 3 = 5 (pronounced ' five' ) and 3 + 3 = 5 (pronounced ' six'). For that is the degree of confusion contained in such spellings as here, there, were.

Side 2


  • TO ignores the alphabetic principal
    • - George Bernard Shaw's ghoti = fish, using <gh>
    • as in tough, <o> as in women, <ti> as in nation
    • - tough, trough, though, thought, through, thorough

  • TO is inconsistent:
    • deign/disdain, receipt/conceit, affray/afraid,
    • cat/kitten, jelly/gelatine, assistant/consistent,
    • speak/speech, proceed/precede/procedure, high/height

  • TO wastes years in school, confusing, frustrating, and
    leaving millions functionally illiterate

  • TO restricts people's vocabulary

  • TO is unwieldy:
    • acknowledgement, haemorrhage, phenomenal
    • (CS aknolejmnt, hemraj, fenomnl)

  • TO is uncertn:
    • gaol/jail, organise/-ize, program/-me,
    • despatch/dispatch, labour/labor, yoghourt/yogurt,
    • lichi/litchi/lichee/lychee

  • TO makes foreigners mispronounce:
    • to 'beer' arms; soul, dove rhyming with foul, rove;
    • nation/naytional

  • TO confuses students of other languages:
    • English accommodation, Spanish acomodación

  • TO distorts the history of English: island, scissors.

Side 3


Ecnomic and social problms in Britn and America ar incresingly being
linkd to lo educationl standrds.

Litracy is fundmentl to al lernng - inadequat readng and riting skils
prevent exlnce in evry othr subject.

Som peple blame rong teachng methods for widespred ilitracy,
but they canot agree on th ryt methods.

Th fundmentl dificlty howevr lies in th arcaic patrns of english spelng,
wich impede al lernrs, nativ and foren.

Th 26-letr alfabet is a systm wich can and shud alow esy,
straitforwrd aquisition of litracy skils.

Riting systms ar not fixd for evr, but hav to be modrnized ocasionly
to try and mach pronunciation as wel as posbl.

Ritn english was not desynd to be user-frendly and has remaind
larjly unchanjed for centuris.

From a practicl vewpoint, redundnt letrs ar both hyly misleadng
by defnition and simpl to corect by leving out.

That is wat CS atemts: to lytn, streamline and regulrize a riting
systm at presnt encumbrd with unecesry clutr.

Wethr or not CS as demnstrated here is found acceptbl,
som action is seriusly needd to make english esir to use.

In th CS Handbook, th Simplifyd Spelng Society is putng forwrd
a jenrl concept rathr than a rijid, definitiv sceme.

Reformd orthografis ar normly intendd for adoption by
th yungr jenration in scools, rathr than by th alredy litrat.

But not th least atractiv featur of CS is its econmy, wich myt giv
an incentivefor its adoption wher time and space ar in hevy demand.

(139/252 words chanjed, saving 177/1636 or 10.82% caractrs)

Side 4

(in no particulr ordr of priority)

  1. Education?
    • decision-making, preparing materials
    • lernrs, parents, teachrs, trainrs, employrs

  2. Publishng?
    • decision-making, implmntation
    • newspapers, jurnls, books
    • riters, editrs, typ-setrs
    • th public as purchasrs and readrs

  3. 3. Dictionris?
    • co-ordnation between dictionris
    • th sorce of orthografic authority
    • combining old and new

  4. World english?
    • spelng reform in one cuntry
    • intrnationl co-ordnation
    • nativ-speakrs vs foren lernrs.

Back to the top.