[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, J29, 2001 p1,3]

A Message from the Chairman:

Christopher Jolly, Chairman of the Simplified Spelling Society

Chris Upward, editor of the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society for almost 20 years, has sadly had to retire because of ill health. He has raised the standard of the publication from that of a newsletter to that of an academic journal. Under his direction, the JSSS covered all aspects of spelling reform, in English and other languages.

For this edition, we are very grateful to John Reilly, who has agreed to be guest editor for this one issue. His willingness to step in so readily is much appreciated. It is a reflection of communication today that transferring editorship across the Atlantic has been so relatively easy.

We are now seeking an editor for subsequent issues of the Journal, and would like to hear from anyone who might be interested.

[See journal articles by John J Reilly.]

In This Issue

John J. Reilly Acting Editor Jersey City, NJ, USA.

This has been an exciting year for the cause of spelling reform in English. In the spring, the magazine Science published a widely reported cross-cultural study on the causes of dyslexia among speakers of English, French, and Italian. Millions of people were introduced to the idea that traditional English orthography about doubles the incidence of dyslexia among English-speakers over that of Italians, whose spelling is far more transparent. The text is reproduced here in its entirety. Meanwhile, media all around the world took some notice of the Web-based "Freespeling.com" project, created by marketing expert Richard L. Wade. In this issue, Mr. Wade explains his plans for this singularly democratic approach to spelling simplification.

All this attention to spelling reform had a downside: some members of the Society suddenly found themselves talking to reporters who needed short answers to questions about reform and the organizations that support it. (At any rate, that's what happened to me.) Several of the items in this issue should make fielding questions about reform easier the next time around:

--Joe Little, in "The Optimality of English Spelling," confronts the more sophisticated arguments in favor of traditional orthography. (Finally, we get to learn what Noam Chomsky really thinks.)

--Steve Bett reviews Marilyn Vos Savant's The Art of Spelling: The Madness and the Method. While the book opposes spelling reform, the review answers a host of common objections.

In addition to apologetics, we have two explorations of the spellings English-speakers find intuitive. Peter Whitmore gives us tantalizing results from his informal study, "Perceived Spelling Rules for Vowel Sounds in Single Syllable Words." Valerie Yule provides a historical perspective in "How People Spelled When They Could Spell as They Liked." (This article should help anyone who wants to be "more traditional than thou" in argument with spelling conservatives.)

The history of spelling reform in English has not been one of uninterrupted success. "The Significance of the ITA Experiment for Spelling Reform," by Masha Bell, is an important reminder of what can happen when a well-meant project goes awry. Still, we study history so we can do better in the future. Many members of the Society around the world are engaged in promising initiatives involving computer-transcription systems and the Internet. This issue has an update on one of these, Tom Zurinskas' "Truespel" project.

There is increasing reason to suppose that the concept of spelling reform will become as familiar to the early 21st century as it was to the early 20th.