[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, 1988/3 p.3 later designated J9]


Cut Spelling query.

From Jim Johansson, Institut Linguistik S I L, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Malaysia:-

A couple of comments on the Cut Spelling brochure: you spell superior and souvenir with <-rir> and <-nir> (superir, suvenir) respectively. Since the <-nir> sound is like near, I should expect <-rir> to sound like rear. In fact it is two syllables, at least in American, and I suspect in British English. You spell figure as equivalent to vigor: In fact in American it is /f i g ə r/ - which brings up the problem of how to resolve British-American differences.

(Dictionaries disagree whether souvenir, superior have the same ending; the main difference is the stress. Perhaps figure should keep <u> because of American pronunciation - but what about the <e>? -Ed.)

Deaf Spellers.

From Rob Baker, School of Education, University of Leeds:-

My current thoughts on spelling reform and deaf children:-

Most studies show that deaf children's spelling abilities are better than hearing children's, if you keep Reading Age and IQ constant. 'Phonetically plausible' errors, the most common among hearing children, are, as you might expect rare with deaf children. In a study by Barbara Dodd (in Cognitive Processes in Spelling, ed. U Frith, Academic Press 1980) the most common form of 'deaf error' was a categorical refusal to attempt to spell unfamiliar words.

Both the above findings fit with the face-value hypothesis that deaf children do not have ready access to spelling-sound correspondences, either to help or to confuse them (though Dodd argues that things may not be that simple).

It seems unlikely that any revision of orthography based on a regularization of spelling-sound correspondence would have any effect on deaf children-short of them having to learn a new set of visual images. In fact it seems more likely that visual distinctiveness of word images would be most useful (so that regularization could actually work against these children). In the case of words for which the deaf child does not have the beginnings of a visual image the only strategy seems to be 'if in doubt give it up'.

Some variety of Cut Spelling may carry benefits for two reasons:-

i) fewer characters = less visual memory load, although I'm unclear about the pay-off between memory load and redundancy.

ii) fewer characters = economy in production of writing.

The latter benefit would show up particularly in situations which are of special relevance to deaf people, viz. the use of electronic mail systems and keyboard telecommunications where characters = connect-time = money! Deaf people already use ad hoc spelling abbreviations to save money in such situations. However these 'cut spellings' are not phonologically motivated, but more like 'speed-writing' techniques. The question mark with regard to the Cut Spelling system is whether the rules would make sense to deaf people.

Developments abroad.

From Ed Rondthaler, American Literacy Council:-
[See ALC and Journal, Newsletter, Anthology, Bulletin articles, and Personal View by Edward Rondthaler.]

A news release: The American Language Academy announces a change of name to 'American Literacy Council'. This change was undertaken because the previous title conflicted with a commercial organisation in the State of Maryland, and the likelihood of confusion in the future was an unwelcome possibility.

Officers of the Council are: Edward Rondthaler, President; H Park Beck, Vice-President; Grace T Wood, Secy-Treas.; Joseph R Little, Asst. to the President; Edward J Lias, Computer Consultant.

The new headquarters of the organization are in the Columbia University area. The Organization's research facilities will remain in New York.

Mr Little is the Council's first full-time staff member. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at its prestigious Chapel Hill campus, having majored in Journalism and minored in Political Science and English. He looks forward to a career in what he considers basic to the social and economic wellbeing of the English speaking world, and is shouldering this assignment with enthusiasm and dedication. His first three months of preparation were spent with Dr Rondthaler acquiring a thorough grounding in the history and fundamentals of spelling reform. Following that initial period he moved to the ALC offices in New York where it is expected that he will bring to the work of the Council a youthful energy often in short supply during the 100-year history of spelling reform.

From Better Education thru Simplified the Spelling, Inc., Michigan:-
[See BEtSS and Journal, Newsletter, Anthology and Bulletin articles, by Abe Citron.

BETSS completed successfully in 1987 the first phase of the 'New Era in Spelling' funding campaign. Over $10,000 was contributed. Phase II wil begin in mid-1988, reaching out throughout the United States. Several target audiences have been identified for special programs designed to raise the level of awareness relative to spelling simplification. These programs wil put emphasis on providing a greater understanding of the nature and extent of the problem represented by our current spelling, with emphasis also on the personal and economic benefits to be derived for all persons thru spelling simplification.

The main recommendation of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation in its Report to BETSS is that BETSS create a well-supported Center for the Study of Spelling Reform. It would conduct research on key aspects of spelling reform hypotheses and models, act as an international clearing house for information and research and publish and stimulate publication of information on spelling reform.

From Prof. Dr Gerhard Augst, University of Siegen, W Germany:-
[See Journal articles by Prof Augst.]

Even such a moderate reform as we are proposing is meeting with vehement opposition. Because of the press-campaign, the education ministers who asked for our recommendations, are reluctant to accept them.

The education ministry of North-Rhine Westphalia is adopting a different tactic. They have asked me to compile a minimum list of all the rules of German spelling which are absolutely necessary. Only these would be used in primary schools.

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