[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, 1987/3 pp29-30. Later designated J6.]
[See Journal, Newsletter, Anthology, and Bulletin articles, and book Written Dialects by Kenneth Ives.

Carol M Eastman Language Planning: an Introduction.

Review by Kenneth H Ives.

Carol M Eastman Language Planning: an Introduction, San Francisco: Chandler & Sharp, 1983, 276 pp., US$9.95

Kenneth Ives is a retired sociologist and social worker. Since 1977 he has publisht 16 pamflets and books for a specialized market (Quakers) using varying amounts and varieties of reformed spellings - finding that a 1% change is reasonably well accepted (3-7% trips people up too much in reading). He is author of Written Dialects N Spelling Reforms: History N Alternatives (1979) and of two articles on studies of acceptability of spelling reforms. Numbers in brackets in the review refer to the page in the book.

Since spelling reformers are language planners, it is important for them to understand the problems which these planners face, and the clues to successful adoption which their experiences provide. Language planning is applied sociology of language. An earlier book Advances in the Creation and Revision of Writing Systems (J Fishman, ed., 1976, Mouton) has appeared. Points in the present work relevant to spelling reform are described below.

Language planning requires the cooperative efforts of political, educational, economic, linguistic authorities [ix]. Language plans are made with particular aims [4]. Hence the various aims of spelling simplification need to be specified. To achieve a policy goal one must intensify people's motivation for accepting the plan [11].

Language choice must be based on social, cultural and psychological factors [15]. The section 'How Writing Systems are Created' (16-26] is most relevant. Symbols must represent distinct sound and meaning units that native speakers recognize as being 'real' in their language. (Thus <ai, ay> are recognized for the sound in aid, but the <ae> of World English Spelling is not. See Dewey 1970, 1971)

Acceptability is the most crucial factor in the creation of a writing system, since the goal is that it be used [17]. Reasons for acceptance or rejection of programs of linguistic change are, in general, outside the linguistic system itself. Criteria for a writing system include: is it accurate, economical, and consistent [18]?

Language attitudes arise when one social group comes into contact with another having a different language, dialect or orthografy [30]. People's attachments to language must be taken into account - do they want a revised language to be similar to, or distinct from, others they are in contact with? Is the language (or orthografy) one the potential adopters will respect?

People are sentimentally attached to their mother tongue, as representing themselves [94]. This can aid spelling simplification thru popularization of Children's Invented Spellings (Read, 1975), which most native speakers of English have forgotten they first used.

English is already a 'world language' for specialized uses, as Caterpillar Fundamental English (a simplified version for machinery maintenance manuals for non-English speakers worldwide), the worldwide use of English for air traffic control, and the widespread use of English as a language of advanced instruction and wider communication in India and many other countries demonstrate. Spelling reform needs to become a part of these developments.

Language changes that occur have social sanction. Hence language planners can predict changes in usage by studying the sociopolitical context [56]. What status do people give the change and its uses? Does the change seem natural, sensible and neutral? Does the shorter, more fonemic spellings which have many precedents in words already spelt that way will have an advantage. Similarly, respellings which avoid existing confusions and ambiguities also have an advantage.) Language planning (including spelling reform of English) has so far focused mostly on the product (specific reforms, linguistics) rather than on the process of change [61].

Language planning has three dimensions [70]: codification (including a system of spelling changes); status planning (how people view the revised language in relation to other languages), and the economic dimension - costs and benefits (who bears the costs, who reaps the benefits).

Codification needs to be sensitive to the culture in which the codified standard will operate [72]. (Working class efficiency and contempt for some of the 'hifalutin' distinctions that upper classes make in 'received spelling' and its 'conspicuous waste' [Veblen] could be a basis for their feeling superior, and a defense against the discrimination that has been demonstrated against those who do not spell 'correctly'.)

Codification needs to be:
1. stable, flexible, precise, rigorous;
2. attentive to the actual functions it has in the culture, and the attitudes various sets of community members have toward it.
In standardizing a language (a more fonemic spelling):
Step 1: develop a practical orthography;
Step 2: train people (in multinational corporations especially) to know and use it;
Step 3: develop cultural and historical (and commercial) materials and literature in it (edition of UNESCO courier.);
Step 4: spread its use in newspapers, magazines, and TV stations, especially in multilingual areas, and make materials (from Received Standard English) available in it.
Change occurs if a group feels the change is in keeping with its goals and its view of itself [79]. Men's language is often more forceful, strait to the point. (Marketing reformed spellings to working men could emfasize it is - more efficient, forceful, faster, pronounceable,...)

Written symbols should record distinctions which make a difference in meaning to native speakers [89]. Writing and speech are interdependent [90]. For literacy (in a revised spelling) there is need for:
1. an accepted writing system, and textbooks in it;
2. basic teaching and reading materials;
3. teachers trained in it.
A new version of a language (or its spelling) should be taut as "a second language". Analysis of contrasts provides teachers with ways to predict, diagnose and overcome likely learning problems students may have from the differences in the two languages (or orthografies) [93]. Change is most likely to occur between generations [114].

A chart of cost benefit analysis on p.38 shows these factors:
1. relative cost of teaching the languages (or orthografies) calculated in monetary terms;
2. cost to pupils being taut, estimated per hour of study (times number of hours for each). And nine other factors.
Language reinforcement activities can be used to change linguistic attitudes, feelings or beliefs.
1. Codification considers the loyalties, preferences, values and habits of the target population.
2. Regularization of dialect differences sensitive to social, geografic differences. Prepare 'official' dictionaries, etc.
3. Simplification, ease of printing, uncomplicated spelling.
4. Purification makes language change more acceptable. By pruning the language of extraneous cultural stigmata - loan words or mistaken derivations, letters no longer pronounced, etc.
5. Elaboration, extending the changes to all contexts where they can be used.
6. Implementation continues elaboration via reinforcement by governmental, educational, economic, social agencies.
7. Evaluation of reinforcement; extent of use of the changes. [146-7]
(Note: purification could be used extensively, and could counter the horror of the traditionalists! Does this argue for steps based on types of errors - the clumsy vowel-consonant-vowel for a long vowel; Samuel Johnson's mistaken etymologies - he did not know French or German from which many words come directly; letters no longer pronounced [Cut Spelling] ... )

A common (international) language is a potential unifying force, because it strengthens sentimental/ ideological, instrumental/normative and symbolic/ role-participatory attachments people have (in the world economic, political and cultural systems) [150].

A standard language has four functions, that foster three language attitudes - loyalty, pride and awareness [154].

Language 'cultivation' or 'treatment' is rigorous if it is:
1. systematic - it responds to plan rather than merely reacts to history.
2. theoretically based - on sociological and/or linguistic models.
3. deep - it responds to the linguistic situation responsible for the problem, rather than just to the surface manifestations of it.
4. rational - it has specific long-term goals and objectives, and also tries to solve the problem at hand. [155]
To think of 'making a plan' may be an illusion! Rather than seeking the best alternative, language planners should take a page from the book of city planners and find a satisfying alternative that will do. Businesses seek to stay in business first, and cope with long term plans secondarily. Planners who are faced with solving language problems should realize that their task is wicked rather than tame - for which no rule is available that will eliminate all problems. A planner cannot know when a plan is right. In language planning (LP) as in social planning (such as city, health or transportation planning) implementation is part of the policy-making process. Status planning rather than corpus planning needs emfasis. [162-163]

People want to belong to vital groups, and they strive for this goal in their intergroup behavior by using speech- strategies [171].

Ethnolinguistic vitality is structured by status, demografic and institutional support features. That is, a group and its language have ethnolinguistic vitality to the extent that they have prestige (status), numbers (demografy) and are organized (institutionalized).

To use economic analysis in LP planners should:
1. estimate costs and benefits that can be attributed to specific goals and consequences of actual language planning;
2. determine the costs of the language planning process;
3. figure out alternatives to every decision made in the planning process;
4. make suggestions about what components of language planning are found to recur and be typical. [303, 179]
Cost-benefit analysis in LP is a way to forecast the different results from alternative plans. To study time effectiveness of a proposed change, ideally all consequences the change would have on society should be defined.

The choice of language for work is influenced by:
1. the desire of employers to use their own first language;
2. the availability of workers who speak a given language;
3. the language of the technology used in the particular employment. [181]
Policy-makers are urged to:
a. define the language function the policy hopes to maximize;
b. calculate the pertinent costs and benefits of the policy;
c. determine how much language use will yield the greatest benefit under the various alternatives.[182]
Several conclusions quoted or stated appear to be mistaken. One is that government is necessary for change in language use [223]. Another is that "the need for a single world language does not arise until a world government is establisht' [43]. Both are at least partially refuted by Noah Webster's and Andrew Carnegie's efforts, some resultsof which are still in use. Also by the development and use fo Caterpillar Fundamental English and similar special purpose simplifications, and by the use of lite by beer companies, and foto by some film service stores. And "for spelling reform to succeed it cannot be introduced gradually" [24] is doubtful, no evidence being supplied. While some conclusions such as these in the book are in error, and many admittedly need more data, the book opens up important areas for spelling reformers to study.


Dewey, Godfrey Relative Frequency of English Spellings, New York: Teachers' College, Columbia University 1970.

- English Spelling: Roadblock to Reading, -, 1971.

Read, Charles Children's Categorization of Speech Sounds in English, Urbana IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Veblen, 'Morsten The Theory of the Leisure Class, New York: Mentor, 1899, 1953, p.257.

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