[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society 1987/1 p3 Later designated Journal 4]


Harvie Barnard, USA.
[See Journal, Anthology and SPB articles by Harvie Barnard.]

... In general American Alternative spelling folloz the WES system, forming the 'long' sound rule for vowels by employing the <e> directly folloing th' vowel; otherwise th' vowel is 'short'. The dubled consonant still signals the 'short' vowel, altho not a necessary indicator. The fienal or terminal <e> to signal a 'long' vowel is not used unless needed to avoid an undesired homograf, az in th' word use, where th' t.o. mode haz merit.

It is my beleef that in approaching the problems of literacy we shuud consider th' need to begin with primary teaching, and encurij thot processez by offering th' chield a chois between what corresponds best with pronunciaeshun and th' speling which duz not.

As well as emfasizing communication, I beleev we shuud giv much mor attenshun in our skools to encurijing thinking, thot processez being based upon what to th' child, az wel az to th' teacher, seems most lojical and least confuzing. Perhaps this kind of speling miet be described az 'Shakespearian' sins he uzed speling az a conveniens rather than az a law of orthography.

Regarding Cut Spelling (CS), it seems to me that to introduce it to beginners wuud cauz confusion, tho for fully literat adults ther iz no serius difficulty, except that strict rules wuud cauz even mor problems of "correctness" than with t.o.

If CS wer introdust az an alternativ for adult use, I can see that ther ar aul th' edvantjes claemd, altho I'd be afraed to attempt presenting it to litl chldren.

... Harry Lindgren's SR1 proposal iz probably one of th' most rational introducshuns for chanj I hav seen on our present horizon, and it is a shaem that the Aussies faeled to go ahed with what appeerd to be a reely guud start.

At present the brietest liet ov our orthografic view is th' work and study of Mark O'Connor, ov Townsville, Australia, who publisht Words on Paper, An Introduction to Alphabetic Theory, a year or so ago, and is now in the process of getting an expanded version publisht. ...He lectures at James Cook University.

Robert Craig, England.
[See Journal and Newsletter articles by Robert Craig.]

... Peter Trudgill's book International English does contain descriptions of various vowel systems of 'standard' pronunciations of English worldwide. The lesson for spelling reformers is to see how very different these standards ar. The problem is how to reconcile these standard fonemes in diafones which will serv a worldwide language. Clearly the end result must represent a hypothetical speech with a much reduced vowel system. Schwa is a major problem here. For many Britons schwa is the vowel in bird, for most Americans it is the vowel in bud, and for New Zealanders and South Africans it is the vowel in bid.

Much of the book is taken up with descriptions of grammar and style which ar not relevant for spelling reform. It is helpful in that it indicates trends in pronunciation, e.g. English is increasingly rhotic, in North America ther is quite a trend tu vowels merging.

... The Krio-English, English-Krio dictionary which apeared a few years ago might be relevant for reform. (Krio is an English-based Creole spoken in West Africa wher it has a certain status as a semiofficial language.)

... The task at the moment is to increase the area of vowel diafones so that each can encompass the wide range of fonemes found in the various varieties of English.

Madhukar N. Gogate, India.
[See Journal and Newsletter articles by Madhukar N. Gogate.]

The Newsletter makes interesting reading, and nicely printed. I am glad to note that you found Roman Lipi Parishad's efforts worth recording in your issue. We shall consider suggestions such as writing tebl, injekshn. (Instead of tebal, injekshan for table, injection. - Ed.)

Bill Herbert, Australia.
[See Journal article by H. W. Herbert.]

Spelling reformers should keep in touch so that none produce schemes unacceptable to the others if possible.

It is important to decide on a standard pronunciation, something very like BBC speech, rather than American pronunciation, which varies too much from one part of the US to another. For a first reform, there would be few words of BBC pronunciation that would differ from that of N-E USA (except for the dreadful word "nooz").

We feel very strongly that the first scheme must be instantly acceptable to the general public (even tho at the same time we might foreshadow further reforms). In our view 3 reforms are acceptable for putting to the public:-

(1) Phoneticizing <ugh> words. There is nothing remotely as bad as the <ugh> words with 9 different pronunciations.) 29 words affected.

(2) The most striking SR1 words: sez, sed, eny, meny, hed, trend, ded. 7 words.

(3) Highly unphonetic words: tung, yot, kue, forren, wun, wuns, peepl, wimmen. 8 words.

We feel that Cut Spelling, tho ingenious and acceptable at a later stage, would be too great a shock to the public as the first step. The most striking improvements from CS are in (3) - highly unphonetic words.

Looking at (1) in more detail, we pronounce thorough more like thuru than CS thoro. Plow is already used in the agricultural world of USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and is analogous to how. Hence we prefer bow for bough and drowt for drought. The sounds <au> and <ou> are nearly the same. Half of us think that <au> should be used to replace <augh>, hence caut, taut, dauter, slauter, fraut; while <or> should replace <ough>, hence fort, ort, rort, bort, brort, nort, sort and thort, The other half of us prefer to use <or> throughout, and not <au>.

A year ago we considered that reforming the <-igh> words was too difficult for a first stage. We liked hy, sy for high, sigh; but site, rite, lite are commonly used commercially and would be less of a visual shock.

We strongly feel that the above 44 words are the most that should be put to newspaper editors and advertisers as the first step in spelling reform. A further list could be foreshadowed, including the rest of the SR1 words and words from CS such as <f> for <ph>, drop final <e> (hav), abolish "<i> before <e> except after <c>".

The big risk with reform is that it may make editors antagonistic in the first few seconds of sighting the reforms.

... Below is a draft letter to newspaper editors. Newspapers are potentially the greatest engines of reform, but it is necessary to have consensus of the majority - a single newspaper or chain cannot succeed (e.g. the failed attempt of the Chicago Tribune).

Dear Editor - English is increasingly becoming the universal language, aided by its expressiveness and its simple grammar. It has only one serious defect: the unphonetic spelling of many simple words like rough, through, tongue, yacht.

There are two groups of people to whom unphonetic spelling is a serious obstacle. The first is slow learners, some of whom remain illiterate or nearly so. The second is foreigners using English as a second language, as is common in Europe and in business circles in Asia. These people can speak English but cannot read or write it, due mainly to its unphonetic spelling.

We believe that a first reform should tackle the most unphonetic simple words, about 40 words.

More than half of these contain the silent letters <ugh>. These words now have nine different pronunciations: enough, though, through, thorough, plough, cough, ought, draught, hiccough. Some newspapers, on their own initiative, have phoneticised hiccough to hiccup.

Other words urgently needing reformed spelling are:- says and similar words pronounced as a short <e>; highly unphonetic spelling like tongue, yacht, queue, foreign, one, once, people, women.

We would appreciate your opinion.

Richard Lung, England.
[See Journal and Newsletter articles by Richard Lung, Anthology, SPB article by Reginald Deans.]

I have just heard of the death of Dr Reg Deans from a fall earlier this year. He would have been almost 94 years of age. Reg was one of the most active of spelling reformers. He introduced hundreds of people thru'out the world to his Britic (<c> = <sh>) system of one sound one letter, solely by making more rational use of the existing set of English letters. In the Society's Newsletter I once compared his system with that of Dr Mont Follick. His book Universal Language and Simplified Spelling is the definitive presentation of his reformer's vision.

Reg was not very communicative about himself, as he was about Britic. He expected people to take his reform on its merits and not because of who he was. It was over a year of correspondence before I found out he was a doctor of physics and engineering. He came to see me on his holidays, and brought one of Bernard Shaw's famous postcards, dated 1950, the last year of Shaw's life. Reg had visited Bernard or GBS, as he was called. Shaw, with the kind of courtesy for which he was exceptional, had sent the card after, in acknowledgment of the visit. Having had the privilege of meeting Reg, I can tell you that he was also a courteous and refmed man to talk to. And he told me a few things of interest, I hope, to other spelling reformers.

Reg met all the great names, including Shaw, Mont Follick and Sir James Pitman. As far back as before the First World War, language was a preoccupation, when he taught English to Chinese students. During the interwar years he lived at Filey, near Scarboro, and often revisited this area. In the Second World War he worked on aircraft design at Farnborough. He retired after the war, and caravaned around Europe, meeting many people to convert to his ideas on spelling reform. But owing to his great age, most of his contemporaries died before him. Still he kept getting the message across. Once, an intelligent 12-year-old girl found one of Reg's Britic leaflets and wrote to him in the reformed spelling. She remarked her classmates thought she was 'bonkers' and that she was working up courage to approach her English teacher on the subject. When the House of Lords debated spelling reform, some of their Lordships received Reg's scheme favorably and one said of Britic that it was the kind of reform he would like to see.

Had Reg been less modest and reserved about his distinguished career, his crusade for reason in English literacy might have been more listened to. But his example taught me this: we are all familiar with fame that lacks greatness, but how often do we appreciate greatness that lacks fame?

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