[Simplified Spelling Society Newsletter Spring 1986/1 p2. Later designated Journal 2]


Chris Upward.


This Newsletter is half Conference number and half more regular format. The remaining conference papers are now included, but we also resume publication of non-conference material, including correspondence, occasional articles and David Stark's series.

However this number also contains an important innovation: a feature article. The idea is that feature articles shall represent a substantial contribution from an acknowledged specialist, and the Society was fortunate in being addressed last autumn by Professor Frank Knowles on the subject of Information Theory. Readers of the edited transcript of his talk (pp.5-13) will be impressed by this synthesis of such diverse fields as cryptography, computing, the orthography of languages that use non-Roman alphabets, and the psychology of reading. Interestingly, a spelling-reform concept for which Information Theory appears to have some rather direct relevance is Cut Spelling. But in more general terms, this feature article is also a reminder that spelling is a field with wide horizons that we all too easily lose sight of, as we wrestle with the minutiae of sound-symbol correspondences or the tricks of teaching the English writing system to struggling learners.

Edgar Gregersen's paper, as readers present at the Conference will remember, confronts spelling reformers with an objection to reform which is widespread in the academic community, both in the United States and in Britain: namely that a phonographically regular system would reduce the visual connections between the many linked words like sane/ sanity, author/ authority if it respelt them perhaps as saen/ sanity, authr/ authority. Since these views are influential, reformers need to take them seriously and consider their response.


Numerous readers have written to say how much they like the new style of Newsletter, and there has been some curiosity about how it has been produced. Articles are firstly entered by Macwrite word-processor on an Apple Macintosh personal computer, then proofs are produced, and corrections and typographical ajustments made. Printing of the final master is by laser printer on A4 sheets, from which the reprographics unit at Aston University runs off the requisite number of copies on A3 sheets for saddle-stitching into the covers. The total cost has been about a third more expensive than before, but it may be brought down by more comprehensive computerized typesetting in future.

In a natural anxiety to see visible progress, some readers have urged that the Newsletter should adopt the 5 SRs agreed at the 1984 AGM. Others have felt that though mostly those forms are undoubted improvements on t.o., they neverthless leave some loose ends (the <-igh> words for example), define DUE inadequately, and include such dubious forms as SRI et for ate, and that in view of their shortcomings it is premature to trumpet them too publicly. Furthermore, the Society's present working party hopes to refine and develop them within a coherent overall system, and the time to consider a house-style will be when that task is complete. Nevertheless contributors are welcome to use whatever spellings they prefer, and (barring editorial oversight!) these will be used in publication.


Enclosed with this Newsletter is a leaflet designed to spread publicity for the Society as a vehicle for spelling reform and hopefully attract many new subscribers. Readers are encouraged to photocopy the leaflet and circulate it - libraries, newspapers and education advisers would be useful targets, but it would be interesting to see the response if each reader posted a copy on a notice-board in a public place, such as a public library.


The editor has 2 copies of Harry Lindgren's Spelling Reform A New Approach (Sydney: Alpha Books, 1969) which he will gladly post to the first two readers who send a stamped-addressed envelope big enough for this slim paperback. The book is strongly recommended: though readers may not agree with it all, they cannot fail to enjoy its lively style, brilliantly apposite cartoons (never has opposition to spelling reform been so devastatingly lampooned), and above all the sheer creative imagination shown in the exposition of Phonetic A and B. And of course it is the bible of the advocates of SR1.

The editor also receives copies of other relevant publications which he will be glad to lend for a week or two to readers who send an A4-size stamped-addressed envelope. Such are the Australian Spelling Action (April-June 1985) and papers from Roman Lipi Parishad in India (see Madhukar Gogate, p.18).

Readers may have seen the attractive new quarterly English Today, published by CUP (£9 p.a. in UK) and edited by Tom McArthur, who is accumulating so many contributions on spelling reform that he is planning a cover theme on the subject in 1987 (SSS Conference Year!). This is a boat the Society clearly must not miss. [A reference to Harvie Barnard's article.]


The 1986 No.2 (Summer) issue will feature an edited version of Dr John Wells' key address to the Society last January on the implications of English accents for spelling reform. By coincidence it leads on from and expands some of Edgar Gregersen's remarks in this issue.