[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society 1987/1 p2 Later designated Journal 4]
Mont Follick Library.


Chris Upward.


It has been increasingly pointed out that our previous title Newsletter was inappropriate for a publication which is so much more than just a vehicle for the internal business of the Society. The title Journal on the other hand more truly reflects the substantial and serious nature of many articles contributed by experts outside the Society. With the advent of 1987 we therefore present the first issue of the Society's Journal. Format and content will however not differ significantly from recent numbers of its predecessor.

One change on the cover, though: the seasonal dating used on the Newsletter has yielded to plain numerical dating, thanks to comments from other continents that Spring Summer Autumn are not equally meaningful the world over. By sacrificing such expressions of northern hemisphere parochialism we underline our role as a world forum for the discussion of English spelling. But readers who feel they have missed out on the Autumn 1986 Newsletter can be reassured: its publication date would in fact have been that of this Journal.


Recent issues have marked a trend away from that concept of reform which dominated the Society for as long as New Spelling was its bible, namely that a mechanical transcription of the citation forms of words is all that is required. We now feature David Brazil's paper on the vowel-fluctuations that occur in speech: its message reinforces what John Wells had to say about accents (Summer 1986) and further calls into question the realism of any attempt to reform English spelling by Liking speech as the sole, or perhaps even the main, criterion. (The recent TV series The Story of English in effect made the same point with its vivid picture of the rich variety of English round the world.)

Our task is to improve written English as a medium of communication rather than to record the spoken word as such. Thus Edward Smith's article explores the morphophonem(at)ic dimension of words, that is, the need to identify their recurring structural patterns and give these a standard spelling. And the editor's analysis of heterographs (or homophones, as they are more often called) implicitly highlights the visual individuality of so much English vocabulary, a feature which, for all its associated problems, it would be rash to jettison at one fell swoop.

In Helen [Bonnema] Bisgard's contribution we are glad to present the first response to our call for reviews. Two recent works that might usefully be combed for orthographical nuggets are Loreto Todd & Ian Hancock International English Usage and Peter Trudgill Dialects in Contact. Any takers?


[See Journal and Newsletter articles by Stanley Gibbs.]

Members will be sorry to learn of Stanley Gibbs' decision at the age of 70 to retire from the committee. He is perhaps the Society's longest-serving active member, having been on the committee almost continuously since 1968. After years of factory life as a toolroom miller, he trained for teaching in the early 1960's, with subsequent specialization in teaching the handicapped and remedial reading in particular. The Society owes him an enormous debt of gratitude, especially recently for all his hard work as Secretary and for his commitment to the concept of spelling-reform by stages. He was a driving force behind the campaign for the 5 SR rules, and he set an example by using them as 'house-style' in his work as Secretary. We wish him and his family all the best.


Stanley's departure means more work for fewer hands. Laurie Fennelly becomes Secretary and Alun Bye treasurer, while the editor will combine membership matters (subscriptions, etc.) with the Journal. Another recent retirement was Bill Reed; the committee wishes to honour him in recognition of his sterling work as Secretary in the 1960's and for helping the Society through subsequent difficult times. The net result of these departures is that the committee is increasingly in need of an infusion of new blood. New faces, and in due course an input of fresh ideas, would be very welcome at meetings. We are a friendly bunch, and we would be delighted to hear from any reader wanting to become more involved. A basic prerequisite is the ability to attend about half-a-dozen meetings a year on Saturdays in Central London. The Society can meet the travel expenses of committee members.


Sadly we have to report the death of one of the Society's Vice-Presidents, Lord Maybray-King, on 3 September 1986 at the age of 85. As Dr Horace King he was a Southampton Labour MP from 1950-70, and speaker of the House of Commons from 1965. As such he was one of the major public figures with whom the Society was associated in decades gone by (see title page of Journal. Stop-press: we have just learned of the death too of Dr Reg Deans; see letter from Richard Lung in Correspondence.


Items planned for the next Journal [re-edited for J28] include Professor Downing on the transfer of skills between language functions, a matter of great practical importance for the transitional period of any reform, and a reprinted article by Valerie Yule on the international context of English spelling reform.

Conference Dates.

Friday-Sunday 24-26 July 1987, the Society's Fifth International Conference, to be held at Aston University's James Gracie Conference Centre, Birmingham, on the theme of Spelling for Efficiency. See Announcement in J3 Editorial and Program leaflet.

[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society 1987/1 p18 Later designated Journal 4]

The Mont Follick Library.

Chris Upward.

Professor N. E. Collinge of the Department of General Linguistics, The University, Manchester M13 9PL, has kindly supplied an updated list of holdings on orthography in the above library, along with the following information.

The Mont Follick Library is housed within the Department of General Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, University of Manchester. It contains materials on all aspects of linguistics intended for the use of registered researchers (staff and graduates) in the University. One section is devoted to orthography and is particularly rich in works on spelling problems and reform; it has been augmented by deposit of materials by the Simplified Spelling Society and others. This section may be consulted by serious students of the subject, by prior arrangement with the Mont Follick Professor or with the staff Librarian of the Department.

The library was founded in 1963 as a resource centre for staff and postgraduate students in the Department of General Linguistics, a department which had then taken on the responsibility for including in its work the furtherance of the understanding of the written aspect of language. The Mont Follick fund provided then, and has continued to provide, for the upkeep of this library and an effort has been made in recent years to maintain a separately stored and catalogued body of material on orthography and spelling reform.

The list of holdings is subdivided as follows:
I Orthography section:
(a) books and monographs
(b) papers and bulletins
(c) microfiche material

II Simplified Spelling Society collection:
(a) books and manuals
(b) SSS pamphlet series
(c) miscellaneous publications
(d) miscellaneous deposits.