(Simplified Spelling Society Newsletter Spring 1986-1 pp3,4 Later designated Journal J2)


[See newsletters edited by Mona Cross.]

From Mona Cross, Public Relations Officer & C'ttee Member, England.

Tho I am no longer editor of the Newsletter, I should be glad to retain a link with members of the SSS and the interested people who used to rite to me. So I hav decided to rite to tell you what we ar doing or ar particularly concerned about. Besides that I want to thank you for your own individual effort in sending advice on the Nue Spelling scheme which we have nearly completed and to suggest what els, as members, you mite, wish to do.

If you are in London when we have our meetings, we should be delighted to see you. A plesanter group of people would be hard to find. Discussions are among people whose dedication is strong, but who listen with patience to other people's point of view. The next meeting is at the Y.W.C.A., Great Russell Street, London, on April 26. It will be the Annual General Meeting - which to me sounds discouragingly formal, but which will be much more interesting than it sounds.

I have been an SSS member for a long time - since before the first conference (1974). It is disappointing to me, and to many members frustrating, that spelling reform has not taken place. Inspired individuals took matters into their own hands by making a scheme and spending endless time and money in promoting it. There were Vic Paulson, Herbert Wilkinson, Dr Gassner, Axel Wijk, Reg Dean and Ken Tillema and more people than I can name working on their own. Their influence rests only with those whom they have contacted. But altho that included publishers and politicians, it was not and is not a strong influence. Neither does it come into the orbit of 'the masses' who will hav to use it.

Somebody has to grant permission for the different spelling to be used in official documents and the publication of books. I myself do not rite to the bank manager in a 'reformed' spelling and neither, I guess, do you. What would you do to make it possible for all the teachers to use a reformed script, or to allow the American spelling, which children see in their reading books, to be used in their own writings?

The SSS Chairman, Chris Jolly, supported by all the Committee and helped by Alun Bye, is trying to bild on a 'reformed' spelling which is actually used. It is used for advertisements only such as foto for photo and Kwiksave for Quicksave. Letters have been written to the firms concerned, asking them to extend the use of their reformed word. That's fine. It's a start in public involvement. Can you, and will you, help in fostering this idea, and have you any notions of your own?

We should be grateful for your help. We need you, for a committee alone is not powerful enough to change the stubborn or uninterested mind of most of our friends, neighbours and countrymen. Keep supporting us!

P.S. We hoped you'd write letters to the local newspapers and send copies to Mr John Ogden, but as far as I know, you didn't. Would it be a good thing for the Committee to produce a letter which could be sent by any member to any paper? What do you think?

[See articles about Harry Lindgren's Spelling Action Society &SR proposals.]

From Doug Everingham of Australia, concerning the SR proposals accepted at the Simplified Spelling Society's AGM in 1984.

Here are some objections to your proposals. They could all be by-passed by adopting Lindgren's approach:

SR:ph is based on the assumption that the user knows existing <ph> spellings for /f/ sounds. It is a rule separated from SR:ough which similarly changes <gh> and assumes a knowledge of <ough> spellings with /f/ sound. It does nothing about the confusion of <f, ff> e.g. in 'ruf'. The logical way to fix this is what for now we can call SR:f (to label it by sound, not by spelling), which could read: the consonant common to off, if, cough, sulphur and sapphire may be written F. But it is not appropriate to do this for off till SR:v is attended to and widely used in the form of ov. This SR:v would read: the consonant sound common to of, have, navy, navvy and nephew may be written V.

This in turn is not appropriate till we get rid of doubling of consonants as a device for distinguishing the different vowel sounds in navy/ navvy. This will come when we tidy up the difference between the vowel components in table/ babble, hater/ hatter, cape/ cap and thousands of others, so why have 2 rules for partial rationalization of /f/ sounds when one rule will do for all of them, if you will be patient enough to follow a logical progression? Besides reform of the navy/ navvy distinction we should also reform the rifle/ riffle distinction before contemplating SR:f. Lindgren and most reformers have made clear that spelling should follow sound. Spelling reform should do so too. It should not correct some deviations from one sound at a time. Let our children first have one sound, then another, of their speech on which they can rely when they write! NONE of SR:ph, SR:augh, SR:ough or SR:DUE offers this. Incidentally, how would you write the intellection phew? It may be the bilabial <ph> of Latin which begins the word. The Romans presumably invented the <ph> to get as near to a Greek bilabial fricative which the Greeks used to write (and Russians still write) as B, sounded rather like our /v/ but with lips touching, a sound absent from Latin.

SR:augh does not have the consonantal complications of SR:ough, but agen why not wait till you can use everywhere a single spelling for the vowel in all, aught, ought, law, awe, and decide if it is to be distinct from that in oar, ore, o'er, four, Boer, boor? And then whether <au/aw> is not the most rational way to show the component sounds of the diphthong in sauerkraut, mauser, landau, Macau, rather than the single vowel sound of awe? Let's decide those consistently before tinkering with changes that should be consequential. Your SR:au produces a final <au> spelling that is not only inconsistent with the diphthong structure but is also inconsistent with the existing final spellings landau; caw daw haw law thaw gnaw raw saw...

SR:ough1. Here agen you put a final U where existing usage has W: bow cow how now row sow vow. The existing English spellings ending with <ou> as far as I recollect use those letters for their sound in bijou caribou route roulette. Pronouncing dictionaries often use <ou, ow> for the diphthong sound in coal dole low mould poultry soul toe yoyo. They use <au,aw> for the sound as in sauerkraut, bough. Let's wait till we decide on a logical spelling for the awe vowel before we go down the <ou> road and so perhaps have to backtrack with a later SR.

SR:ough2. See above on SR:augh and ough1.

SR:ough3. See above on SR:ph.

SR:ough4. Here you have 4 rules, not one of them offering beginners a consistent spelling for a consistent sound. The <o> or <oe> if consistent, would extend to replace your doh. So why is it not doe? There is a conflict with an existing spelling in either case. Please avoid rules which are limited by or definable by existing spellings! Make rules limited only by the sounds concerned and you will not need exceptions. Adopt one of the 40 approx. sounds of English one at a time completely and in the right sequence and you will avoid confusion. Your 'thurra' is a triple rule:

1. double R to make preceding vowel short
2. sound U before double letter as in up
3. use A for final indistinct vowel.
Three rules for rationalizing one word is poor rationality.

SR:ough5. This is inconsistent with the sound of U in SR:ough3/4. Few existing spellings give final U this value. The only ones I can recall are tutu, caribou, and the Chicago Tribune's thru which has become well recognised but with no analogous change in eny other word. Not a promising start for a rational spelling code.

SR:DUE. This is the most confusing and delaying proposal you have made. Its applicability is not clear in hundreds of cases like awe aye ey borne bourne come catalogue done foe gone judge more none programme statue rue toe. The simple solution is to abandon rules based on bad spellings and go for rules based on clear speaking.

Where the US (Webster) usage differs from UK (Oxford) dictionaries on pronunciation, go for the commonest usage. There is no such problem with SR1 and that is one of the reasons for Lindgren's choosing it. A similar simplicity would apply with an SR for most short clear vowels with provision for a variant. Thus the vowel in the lad plaid add plait sate have salve (US) would have provision for the variant /a:/ sound in some words. Many Australians say aunt like aren't, while most US speakers say it like ant. We don't mind alternatives like reinforce/ reënforce, manoeuvre/maneuver, programme/program, catalogue/catalog.

Similarly for the vowels of in on urn all ski one put rue. Once these are consistent, the diphthongs was may my boy mow now (hey ay oil low kraut) can be chosen in the order that will avoid clashes and conform with the components of the diphthongs. Then it will be unnecessary to have doubling of consonants, one of the sources of confusion in Italian, French and English (but not Spanish).

My closing appeal: promote SR1 and existing, normal controversial alternatives like the realize for realise, thrufor through perhaps and nothing else still SR1 is widely known. Then let's agree on SR2.

[See articles by Ayb Citron and about BEtSS.]

From Professor Ayb Citron, Better Education thru Simplified Spelling, USA.

Some time bak we were discussing ow versus ou. Chris Jolly suggested we obtain some indication of public preference on this question. A frend of mine, a counsellor at Oakland Community College, opened some doors there for me. Between December 4 and 10 I was in English or psychology classes for from seven to eight minutes each. In each class I distributed ballots, as here.


If you used only one spelling for the vowel sound in these words, which spelling would you prefer'!

These are all spelled with ow. These are all spelled with ou.
I like ow.[... ... ...] I like ou. [... ... ...]

Ow starts and ou starts were distributed alternately to the students. Then I opened with three points:

1. Our traditional spelling is often quite irregular.

2. One of its irregularities consists in using different spellings for the same vowel sound, for example, <ou> (cloud) and <ow> (cow).

3. The ballot they mark is not a vote for changing our spelling. It is completely hypothetical. It asks: If we were sometime in the future to use only one spelling for the above sound, which spelling, <ow> or <ou>, would they prefer? (If a male, place a small M in the upper right corner of the ballot.)

I obtained a total of 150 ballots, 113 female students and 37 male student. They voted 100 for ow and 50 for ou. The 113 woman voted in the same proportion, 76 ow and 37 ou. The men voted in the same proportion, 24 ow and 13 ou.

Using the same or similar ballots and procedure, perhaps you would wish to obtain a sampling. Let me know if you want to approach this.

Correspondence has also been received from

Harvey Barnard (Tacoma Washington), Robert Craig, (Weston-super-Mare), Rae Elser (New York), Stanley Gibbs (Leicester), Madhukar Gogate (Bombay), Edgar Gregersen (New York), William B Hornback (Spelling Progress Quarterly, Pennsylvania), Garry Jimmieson (Queensland), Richard Lung (Scarboro), Roger Mitton (London), Peh-ling Lee (Jiangxi Province, China), Edward Rondthaler (New York), David Stark (Cumbernauld), Michael Stubbs (London), Tom McArthur (Cambridge) Valerie Yule (Aberdeen) and others.

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