[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, 1992/2 p2, later designated J13]
[Also on this page: Cartoon.
[See Journal, Newsletter, Anthology, Bulletin articles, and book Written Dialects by Kenneth Ives.]


Issue Editor Ken Ives.

With the recent publication of the Cut Spelling Handbook, this issue of JSSS begins with a symposium on Cut Spelling. There may be more responses to CS than can appropriately fit in the Journal, tho a few more are likely in our next issue. A separate publication may be needed.

Also timely this time is a report on the publicity about CS at and after its publication. A major problem facing spelling reformers is "marketing" their product. The publicity accompanying the launching of CS is a good example of this, as was the billboard campaign of BETSS in the Detroit and Washington DC areas, reported in the last issue.


This issue includes a popular short story, in a simplified spelling. One difficulty in popularizing reformed spellings is the scarcity of interesting readings. One of the reasons i.t.a. has not had more impact is that first grade pupils finished all the available readings in it well before the end of the year. There seem to be no reading materials available in "no new letter" simplified spellings (except Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, in World English Spelling).

Hence this feature can build up a collection of such materials. They may help readers become more fluent and at ease with simplified spellings. They can demonstrate to enquirers what a reformed spelling would be like. And they provide a more adequate basis for comparing various proposed reform systems.


One of the first efforts in simplifying English spelling, to aid readers and writers, was standardization. In the 1600's, the Mainwaring family spelt their name in 124 different ways. Many people spelt the same word in different ways in the same document!

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary soon provided a standard, after its publication in 1756. However, that standard has not since been substantially revised and updated. And the emfasis on standardization has been used as an obstacle to simplification.

In the United States, Noah Webster's Dictionary of 1828 led to some standard spellings there which have differentiated US spellings from those in the UK. In the 1900-1916 period, the National Education Asso. and the Simplified Spelling Board (financed by Andrew Carnegie) produced a few further changes (program ... ). And publication of Webster's third Dictionary in 1961 encouraged a few others (catalog ... ). Thus there have been minor revisions of the standard spellings in the USA, after Johnson's Dictionary, about 70, 80 and 50 years apart. It may be time for another and more substantial revision?

In the USA there is the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), which develops voluntary technical standards for libraries, information services, and publishing. Over 50 of its standards are in use, including Library Catalog Cards and International Standard Serial Numbers. It reviews each standard every five years.

NISO is controlled by representatives from member organizations: 24 associations including the American Library Association, 9 official organizations including the Library of Congress, 16 information service or network organizations, and 13 corporations, including IBM and the H. W. Wilson Co.

It may be possible for the three spelling reform organizations active in the US - Simplified Spelling Society, Better Education thru Simpler Spelling, and American Literacy Council - to prod this organization into setting up a committee to develop standards for the simplification of English spelling. These standards could be useful for teaching reading and writing, in elementary schools and in classes for adult learners (ESL), in this country and elsewhere, possibly as a basis for a simple, standard key to pronounciation in dictionaries, and perhaps for some business uses.

A technical committee to set up such standards would need representatives from Dictionary publishers, the US Office of Education, the Laubach Literacy organization, and others, as well as our three organizations.

This approach would require preliminary and ongoing consultations among our three spelling reform organizations. It would have a major advantage in bringing the issue to the ongoing attention of some major potential users, and then of presenting a "united front" to inquirers, at least on those aspects on which agreement has been reached.

An interim, partial set of standards is a desirable early product, presenting those simplifications on which there is a already general agreement. These simplifications should probably be accompanied by reading rules and writing rules. The next step would be to work toward additional agreements to include in the first 5-year update of the standard.

Permission to reproduce material from this Journal should be obtained from the SSS, and the source acknowledged.

[Inside the back cover was printed a repeat of the description of the journal cover words, first given in J1 1985.]

Change in education.

Click here for bigger picture


COMING OR GOING. Which direction?

With thanks to Mark O'Connor, Canberra, Australia, via Harvie Barnard.

[Click on the picture to see a bigger version, 83KB.]

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