[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, J31, 2002/2, pp35-36]

Letters & Summaries of On-Line Discussions.

Letters are welcomed on any matters raised by items appearing in the JSSS, or on a spelling related discussion group, or on any observations relating to spelling that readers may wish to report.

A minimal respell "house-style" proposal.

While there has been considerable debate as to what to adopt as a house style, we probably have not made any advances over the ten 1883 reform proposals of the American Philological Society:
- Ed.

The changes affecting 3500 words fell into 10 basic categories: /E/=e, /^/=u, /f/ =f or ff, /tS/=ch, /z/ = z, ...

1883 REFORM.

This reform is one answer to the question: What words need to be respelled if the maximum number of respellings is 10% in any running sample of 1000 words.

Another answer is to respell only those words that cannot be understood if pronounced as written. This respell proposal would respell such words as enough, through, although, and the other "ough"words. This is also referred to as the SAXON alphabet reform.

The Best Way to Represent the Sounds of English.

Mark O'Conner writes: We could fully "address all the problems with the current writing system" by replacing it with a one-symbol-per-phoneme alphabet for English. But since conservative prejudice will not permit this in, at least, the currently foreseeable future, perhaps we should ask instead: "What alternative will best ameliorate the problems of the present alphabet and the present spelling?

These problems include: unpredictable spelling, unreliable guide to pronunciation, difficult to teach & learn.

It would be unfair to assume that such a scheme must "address" (in the sense of "fix") all the problems inherent in these rather imperfect systems. What is wanted is the best amelioration that can be implemented.

Mark's ReadWrite notation uses color coding and 7 optional levels of hinting. Kate Gladstone said "Mark's process strikes me as the best thing I've seen yet (in terms of its chances for seeing wide use as a way to achieve the goals of a better spelling without disturbing the people who don't want or don't need hints".

Voice of American Pronunciation Guide.

PG spellings of all the names in the news can be found at this site in "menu-spell" and as an audio file. e.g., BREZHNEV, LEONID ILYICH BREHZH-nyehf, lay-o-NEED eel-YIHCH Brezhnyef, Leyonied Ielyich [Spanglish] *breZnyef, *IAOnEd EIyiC [ENgliS]

Bridges to Literacy. Theme in support of a new i.t.a. where bridges stands for "Beginners' Road Into Directly Grasping English Spelling" Spanglish was designed as a bridge English. Start with a highly phonemic i.t.a. and come up with ways to devolve it into the traditional spelling. Pitman's i.t.a. transcriptions added silent letters without justification, used traditional spelling rather than sound to spell unstressed vowels, and failed to explain how traditional spellings could evolve from i.t.a. spellings. The Spanglish i.t.a. does not repeat these errors but admits that 15% of tradspel cannot be explained and have to be memorized as logograms or sight words.


Half Baked Ideas.

Allan Campbell has actively endorsed a publicity first campaign and Steve Bett has proposed several ways to increase public exposure and public access to reform proposals. These proposals are not fully thought out and require more input from the membership. Please write.

The Alternative Spelling Bee.

The society has often claimed that logical spelling would be much more predictable than historical spelling. An alternative spelling bee would be a place to prove this. What we need are rules that define what we mean by a logical spelling. In 40% of the cases, traditional spelling is logical. There is often more than one logical spelling. What is logical depends on what exception rules are allowed such as spelling /geit/ as <gate>.

More SR Books for the libraries.

There are not many books in the libraries that even mention spelling reform and fewer that in any way endorse it. We have the reprint rights to a hundred years of essays on spelling reform and we should make these generally available to the public. The first book in the series would be a 300 page anthology of articles from the Spelling Progress Bulletin and The Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society. The working title is 100 years of spelling reform. Members would receive a free copy of the book. Donations would be accepted to cover the costs of marketing 200 copies at $12 each to the libraries.

Proposal for a political referendum on spelling reform.

Going thru the process of formulating a proposal that would he on a State political ballot would be a good exercise. What kind of reform would stand a chance of being endorsed by 51% of the residents of a state'?

Sponsor a new Shaw alphabet type contest.

The exercise would be setting up the rules to be used in evaluating competing schemes. The exercise would get the membership to focus on specifics. One of our problems is that we cannot agree on what we want. Some say we don't need any new schemes but this is something that people will respond to so it will put spelling reform in the spotlight. It would probably take a $5,000 investment but it should generate over $50,000) in publicity and new memberships.


Enjoyed your gauntlet essay very much. Fassinating that one cannot answer such vital questions. I suspect youre correct that printing orthors' rights was the salient reason for convergence and conformity but thats quite a time lag up till Samuel Johnson.

I was working yesterday on target words for the 3rd World Vote of www.freespeling.com in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (opened 11.8.1602). [See Links page.]

Am dining with a chum in Christ Church College (1524) this evening under the portraits of 8 British Prime Ministers; shall put your conundrum to them. I forget the collective for a Common Room full of pedants. Probly just a Pride?

I just hope I can avoid making seriously bad jokes about voiceless fricasee of ciken and who took the third o out of pronunciation? - always annoyed me that! But I shall certainly try to entertain your points (with attribution) in a chat show on Radio Scotland on Monday morning -Richard Wade

Children of the Code.

The PBS [US Public Broadcasting System] program will be concentrating on showing the hidden costs associated with maintaining a logographic writing system. It shows the need to change the code if we want to get the benefits of a simpler alphabetic system.

It is not that the logographic system does not work. It just does not work for everyone and trying to get it to work for the bottom half of the class is more expensive than moving to a new more consistent code.

Where do we spend our time and money?

On (1) Convincing people of the need for change, or (2) Implementing a particular change'!

Allan Campbell wrote:
So, lets conserve our effrts, and put them where they ar enrjy and cost efficient - convincing peple of the need for chanje.

John Responded:
Ah, but thats just it: Convinsng peepl of the need for a chainj is hardr than implementng a chainj. I resntly had won of thoas blyndngly obvius epifanies about this. If U can imajn such a tthing, hardly eniwun cairs about spelng. This aplys as much to the publix atitued to TO as to thair reaxion to reform when it is propoasd to them. The subject is esensialy invizabl. Englishspeekrs wit spel witth whatevr sistm is prezentd to them. Just doant ask them to tthink about it.

And the fact is that chainj is hapning, eavn axeleraitng. Becaus of the proliferaision of informl electronicly transmitd text, and allso becaus of the declyn of the study of Latn and French in the englishspeeking wrld, the tradisionl, etimolojicl ortthogrfy of English is in vizabl retreet.

The funxion of a spelng reform organizasion then, is to du in a mor sistematic fasion whot sour of our membrs hav been doing invidualy. That is, collectng nu spelngs as they apear, and bringng the atension of editrs and the wydr public to the betr wuns. Tu maik recomendaisions, howevr, we realy du need at leest an implyd sistm.

Allan wrote:
U may wet be on the road to Damascus. I dont no, but yor blinding experience makes me think of our electrl systrn. In case u dont no, about five years ago we chanjed from the traditionl Westminster 'first-past-the-post' systm, in which the party with the most electrat seats became govrnmnt, and until the next election could do just about as it plesed - an 'elected dictatorship'.

In a refrendm, we narroly decided to chanje to the much mor democratic mixed membr proportionl (MMP) systm used in Germany. This organizes each partys proportion of seats almost exactly in line with its proportion of the popular vote. And leads to issu-by-issu decisions.

But the crucial point in this argument is that most peple who voted for it really didnt no wat it was or how it workd. Comentators agree that the vote was larjly a protest vote against members of Parliament. The two major parties oposed MMP. And tho i think there myt be a hyr proportion who now hav some idea of its workngs, i think there is still a wide ignrance. But it would win by a bigr marjn now if a vote was held.

I ges there is a component of 'we wit do wat u ask' in spelng as in the above politicl voting. But there is also an educated suspicion and distrust as evidenced by my frends comment at the dinr the othr nyt. And an educated oposition.

Archer's New Spelling:
It mae be wel to ad dhat dhe formz widh which we are familyar ar not aulwaez dhoez prefurd bie our graet poets. Shakespeare haz els, maner, tung, tel, dasht, stopt, carvd, sadnes; Milton; suspens, gladsom, falshood, dred, labord, farewel, sented, sovran; Dryden, dropt, contest; Tennyson woz an Onorary Vies-Prezident, ov dhe Inglish Speling Reform Asoesyaeshon, and, in spiet of dhe strong feeling for "korekt speling' in hiz dae, he did not hezitaet to spel dipt, drest, lapt, dropt, ets.. But it is dhe printerz, and not dhe graet rieterz, huu hav deturmind our speling, widh dhe solitary edsepshon ov Dr. Johnson; and, az we hav seen, he reguelariezd whot he found - he did not reform.

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