[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, 1988/2, pp3,4 later designated J8]


Reform Strategies.

From Bill Herbert, Advocates of Simplified Spelling Australia (A.S.S.A.):-
[See article Spelling Reform Now! and Australia.]

F The Style Council Meeting in 1986 organized by Macquarie University was good, but would be better if coordinated with similar meetings in other English speaking countries.

(SSS Journal 1988/1, J7 p.28. Yes, indeed, but we haven't the clout to organize one at present. Eventually we ought to, tho -Ed.)

We were interested in the article by Thomas Hofmann (1988/1, J7 p.20) He suggested a short list of about 10 words obviously in need of reform which would be agreed to in Britain and the USA, Canada and Australia and New Zealand. (This is very like the 'foot in the door' strategy suggested in my paper to your 1985 conference). As Hofmann says, with one small success the pent-up pressure for reform will rise.

Our suggestion for a list of 10 would be as follows (leaving the horrible <gh> lot for Stage 2):

10 highly unphonetic words tongue-tung, yacht-yot, queue-ku (or q), quay-kee, foreign-foren, one-wun, once-wuns, people-peepl, says-sez, said-sed.

Also included should be though-tho, through-thru, as they are already approved by the Concise Oxford.

(What about backwards compatibility? i.e., if you learnt kee, could you then read quay? -Ed.)

From Elaine Miles, Uned Dyslecsia, Coleg Prifysgol Gogledd Cymru (Dyslexia Unit, University College of North Wales), Bangor:-

I think that the emendation of some of the most tiresome irregularities, like the <-ough> words, would be the best start. I felt no sentimental feelings for the old currency, which was purely utilitarian, but I do about our literary heritage. So proceed gradually and see how it goes (as with seat belts, helmets?).

From Eric H Kenneth, Grimsby, South Humberside:-

My new microcomputer came up with the following examples of the German-style 'lengthening-H': shah, Utah, Allah, mynah, Rajah, Sarah, hookah, howdah, hurrah, pariah, cheetah, Jehovah, Messiah, chutzpah, savannah, verandah, Ayatollah, Maharajah, Hallelujah. Hebrew is the main source, but Indian and Arabic are also strongly represented.

Hungarian and Finnish are exalted as phonetically perfect and to a lesser extent Spanish. But I think that Italian is even more phonetically 'true' than Spanish. German is not too far behind in the phonetic stakes, but of course the times when <ä> was pronounced differently from <e> are 100 years gone. I know that in Bavaria and Austria in my youth there were still comics mocking the old fuddy-duddies who said Vääääter for Väter (instead of the modern 'veter'), and they made it sound like a sheep crying out.

Finnish and Hungarian are 'constructed' languages. Roman monks were commissioned by the Pope to write the dialect of wild heathen tribes (previously only spoken), in order to spread the gospel, so they invented the written form of Hungarian, Finnish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, according to a Latin system.

To compete with that logic, the mixture-languages such as French, English, even Spanish (Moorish and Visigothic influence) and Italian (Roman-Gothic-Lombardic mixture) do not stand a chance.

Any systematisation of those must come by organisation and logical reform. I often think that Spelling reform doesn't stand a chance until the language itself is systematised more. But that will be thought even more heretical!

From Roger Gleaves, London:-

Should we worry about spelling so much? A problem arises of what to do about the varieties of pronouncing the same word (garrij or garahje?) It might be simpler first to standardise the pronouncing of our language, and then the spelling will possibly get itself sorted out in consequence - or is that gross heresy?

Motley Reforms in Action.

From Elizabeth Wardle, Seaford, East Sussex (see J6 1987/3, Correspondence p.4):-

Mie oenli nue karəktər iz dhe shwā (Ǝə), and dhee aksənts < ́> ´ ¯and <ˉ>, which, az ie səjest in Inglish Speling cood be akómədaeted on ə QWERTY keebord, instéd ov <x> or <q>.

Ue kweeri mie ues ov shwā - in fər for for, etc., but ie woz rieting informəli. For ə dəsizhən on dhə forməl form ov ə werd, wee need ən əkàdəmi.

(Does that mean two spelling systems, a formal and an informal one? - Ed.)

From Pwe-Lin Lee & Fan Lee, Ganzou Jiang-Yi Province, People's Republic of China:-

In our reform system what would be reformed to wot for Britain, but to whaat for the US. I'm sorry to say that to preserve the unity of every spelling around the world would render any feasible English spelling-reform eternally impossible - not only for another four centuries.

(Which spellings would foreign students of English then learn? - Ed.)

A practicable universal English language might be spelled with five long-sound capital letters.

DhE short sound of /u/ is <u> as in put, pull. In bus dhE <u> is /a:/, so it's rezeneble tu riform bus to bars, tu bE distingwishd from TO bars wich is tu bE riformd tu barrs.

For obtAning mor definit as wel as distinkt artilkulAshens, let alter bE riformd tu olter, result tu rizolt, sully tu sale, moustache tu mostash, etc.

Let man be riformd tu men and men to mens, dhArblI simplifIing dhE gramar.

An aksent mark shudn't bE omited in dhE speling riform and shud bE put in its rit plAs. For ikzampl, standing shud bE riformd tu st'anding, and extend tu ikst'end.

DhE vouel of moon is 'diferent from dhat of June, so moon mA bE riformd tu 'muun, wIl June to Jiun.

The long-sound capitals should be small caps. Unfortunately in Arial capital i looks the same as lowercase L, as in wIl for while.

From Robert Craig, Weston-super-Mare, Avon:-
[See Journal and Newsletter items by Robert Craig.]

Koments on Kut Speling:

1. Ij kan see no real reazon for retaininc too. It seemz tu me dhat too beloncz widh dhe odher emfatik spellincz mee, wee, shee ets. German seemz tu manage kuite well widh zu for both to and too.

2. Palatalz are still kauzinc jou problemz. Ij don't think dhat casul, plesur are acseptabel. Eidher spell dhem as casual, plesure, or introduse a palatalizinc simbol, e.g. casjl, plesjr.

3. Onli elderli peopel pronounse suit as /sju:t/. Dhe modern pronynsiaxion iz /su:t/. Nordhernerz, Ij cuess, pronounse both soot and suit as /su:t/. Dhe sound /ju:/ iz veri restricted. Ij kan onli see a case for retaininc it at the becinninc ov wordz. Ij think dhat NU TUN xhould be dhe preferred spellincz, pronounsed eidher az /nu: tu:n/ or az /nju: tju:n/. Dhe spellinc pronynsiaxion would prevail eventualli. Som ecsampelz:- nu, tun, fud, gud, wud, hud, buk, luk, tru, stu, studio (buck→byk, luck→lyk, study→stydi), revenu, kontinu.

Japanese 'Spelling'.

From Thomas R. Hofmann, Hokuliku University, Kanazawa, Japan 920-11 (see Journal 1988/1, J7 pp.23-24 for an introduction to Japanese writing and articles by Thomas Hofmann and about Japanese.):-

A note about Japanese orthography.

The kanji ideograms exist for only some nouns but most adjectives & verbs. Adjectives & verbs have inflections, however, that require phonetic additions. The two parallel kana alphabets evolved with simple symbols - 1 to 3 strokes for a syllable. They are sort of like our difference between Roman and italic type faces. The angular kata-kana were used for telegrams and early computers, as well as foreign words and to indicate emphasis, while the almost cursive hiragana (hira-kana) are used for most other purposes.

Several curious facts tend to shock foreigners on mixing these systems. Except for a rule that you can't change between the 2 kana systems in a word (such a change serves to mark the beginning or end of the word, like our word-space does), just about every word can be written in at least several ways. Foreign words are almost always in katakana, but for decorative purposes they occasionally appear in hiragana. Native words may be written in katakana for emphasis (as we use italics), hiragana, kanji or a mixture of kanji & hiragana. It took me several years to finally accept that a word has no 'proper way' to be written. Although printing has been around in Japan since before Guttenberg, they never bothered with standardising the written form of words! However they do have some concept of orthography, as fairly strong feelings can sometimes be called forth if you write a kanji in an unapproved way. But generally, writing is left to the choice of the writer, which the printer faithfully follows.

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