News5. (underlined words and letters are presented as headings or in italics here.)
On other pages: part 1, part 3, part 4, part 5.

News. July 1984, part 2.

[Chris Jolly: see Journals, Newsletters, Media, Bulletins.]

From the Chairman, Chris Jolly.

Back in March this year we sent you the proposed 'Stage 1' reforms that had been drawn up by a Working Party - and invited your comments. As you will remember these ar a modest set of five separat spelling reforms, ones that wer felt to make sense for use in everyday work. Indeed we intend to use them as a 'house style' and you will see that they hav been used in meny items in this News Letter.

In summary the five reforms wer:
SR1: Spell e sound in bet with a. eg: frend.
SR:DUE: Drop Useless E's. eg: hav, opposit.
SR:ph: Reform ph spelling. eg: foto.
SR:augh: Reform augh spelling. eg: caut.
SR:ough : Reform ough spelling. eg: cof.
As I mentioned, we saut your views on these proposals - so what did you hav to say about them? Well, broadly you felt they wer good and the right way to go forward. However a number of you felt they do not go far enuf.

Examples of the general comments received ar these:
Frederick Schmitz-op der Beck: "Let me congratulate your committee on the excellent work done in a very stony garden. It makes respelling fun - even internationally."

George O'Halloran: "I very hesitantly approve."

Christopher Upward: "I am glad that moves ar now afoot to introduce som specific reforms, and I think those that ar planned ar for the most part good ones."

Robert Craig: "I think they (the proposals) represent a truly positive step."
When it came to the specific new spellings proposed there wer a number of points put forward. Christopher Upward gave us the benefit of his linguistic experience with a very thoro and detailed critique. In discussions with him we hav been able to improve some of the reform examples given. Abe Citron has expressed some concern over the amended examples we hav used in DUE (Drop Useless E's) but he acknowledges our views about the confusion in pronunciation that we seek to avoid.

To return to an earlier point, a number of you considered Stage 1 to be limited with mor far reaching reforms being needed. Examples of such views ar:
Laurie Fennelly: "It (Stage 1) doesn't make enuf difference in a letter to show."

Chris Upward: "Valuabl tho they ar in their own riht, they (the Stage 1 proposals) apear too limitd and fragmentd to hav th impact wich wud gain widespred public support"
As a society we ar a forum for discussion and will always be so. We will need to develop and extend our proposals beyond those for Stage 1. In the process we will probably move closer to New Spelling wich is the best ideal available tho impractical for a single stage implementation.

In the meantime we shall need to promote the Stage 1 reforms and give full encouragement to their use. I do hope you will be able to use them yourselves and giv them your support.

[John Downing: see Journals, Newsletters, Anthology, Bulletins.]


Dr. John Downing, speaking to a General Meeting of the Society, traced some of the history of English spelling by quoting from Professor Scragg's excellent book, "The History of English Spelling".

Dr. Downing warmly recommended this book to us and quoted several names of men who had attempted to influence the prevailing spelling of the distant past; in 1582 Mulcaster, the theorist and Coote, the schoolmaster, in 1596 wer singled out for special mention.

We wer shown how pronunciation has changed over the cors of nine-hundred years. Our present spellings frequently represent pronunciations which hav been ded for several hundred years.

Alas for the efforts of spelling reformers, by 1700 English spelling became almost stabilized. Dr. Johnson's dictionary publisht in 1755, sanctioned sum spellings and condemned others. Speaking generally, Dr. Johnson set his seal of approval on the alredy stablized - but unsatisfactory spellings of the 1700s.

Since the 1700s English spelling has remained fossilized whilst pronunciation has very noticeably changed.

Lack of space prevents me from presenting the full text of the lecture, but I offer several quotations in the hope that they may promote thaut and discussion.

"Psychology teaches that fysical (motor) skills ar no different from intellectual (cognitiv) skills, in the sens that there ar twenty factors to a skill."

"Eye-movements ar extremely important in reading."

"English spelling should be called complex rather than irregular." "To learn eny skill, you must do the whole operation from the beginning. Do not start by learning sub-skills in isolation."

"Learning to read is mor like a puzzle to be solved rather than a relationship between the printed and spoken word."

Stanley Gibbs. [See Journals, Newsletters, Leaflets.]


Letters to Mr. S. Gibbs our Secretary, should be sent to me for the next two months. I shall immediately forward them to his new address.

Extracts from two of the meny letters received by Mr. Gibbs:
H.W. Herbert, Kenmore, Australia.
I agree with the four reforms, but might add as a fifth, these difficult, simpl words: one, once, right, ache, eight, women, foreign, build, tongue, thumb.

No (1) reform aut to be the ough and augh words. English speaking people themselv's regard these spellings as ridiculous, and if we cannot succeed with the oughs and aughs we cannot succeed enywhere. So I suggest a first reform: aut, naut, thru, tho, thurru, tuf, trof, plou (or the American plow?), Kof or cof. Should we include laaf, kaut, slauter?
(Editor: I agree with Mr. Herbert).

Professor Hofmann, Toyana University, Japan.
Of the Big Four, the 2nd, "respell all the ough and augh words" will be sympathized with by all adult speakers of English. Much mor I am sure than the important 3rd, or the questionabl 1st.
(No. 3 hav, gon, liv, etc. No. 1 hed, sed, insted, etc. S. Gibbs).

[William Reed: see Anthology, Bulletins.]


This is a photostat of part of S.S.S. Pamphlet 10 by Mr. W. Reed, retired hedmaster, present committee member and former Secretary and Treasurer of the Simplified Spelling Society.

Spelling reform concerns other bodies as well as the teaching profession. It concerns the universities, the press, and Parliament. What is believed in the universities, in newspaper offices and in Parliament tomorrow, depends on what is thought and taught in schools today. Teachers should, by our teaching and by our example, draw attention to the importance of the language problem, and to the possibilities of reform. Ruskin's words will remind us of our very great responsibility in this matter.

Knowing that children are entrusted to our care, we must see that they do not suffer by reason of any thoughtlessness or prejudice on our part.

Extract from Edmund V. Starrett's articl in the last Spelling Progress Bulletin - Winter 1983.

"Without public acceptance, any spelling reform is unlikely or impossibl"

One cannot realistically expect change of attitude to come overnight. To ignore this fact is to assure failure. Acceptance, then, is the key word in spelling reform, for without it even the most logical and erudite system ever proposed for English will be relegated to the trash heap.

In order to overcome public indifference or resistance and to gain acceptance, it will be important to proceed gradually and logically over a period of years. Whatever changes the public is asked to make should at first be rather simple or innocuous.

THE KWIK BROWN FOX The Case for Simplified Spelling.

by J.R.Brummell

The article by Editor Reg Orlandini, on computers, suggests a great many exciting avenues for exploration. One fascinating avenue leads us to the inescapable conclusion that we must simplify our spelling.

We now have the box, which displays what we say, translating sound into vision. There is one big snag. The spelling. How can we teach the box to spell words like "thorough" and "rough" and all the other weirdies? We are forced to the conclusion that we must simplify the spelling of English. We must have consistency as regards the spelling of each sound.

And we need it for a great many reasons besides the needs of the box. We need it so as to make it easier for our children to read and write, and to reduce illiteracy. Above all, we need it for the sake of English as an international language.

More people use English than any other language. Now we need to create one language for one world in the hope of achieving international understanding.

We can see how important this is and how dangerous is the present position, when we remember that, not long ago, Nikita Sergeyevich Khruschev rose in the United Nations shouting his objections to words which had just been spoken, although the words did not mean what he thought they meant at all.

In many ways English is already a simple language. That is one reason why it has spread throughout the world. But any plan to reform the spelling would meet with a great deal of opposition. There are few subjects more likely to arouse passion among exponents of English than the idea that it should be altered or reformed in any way. To these people it is tantamount to saying that it should be desecrated. Some of us, at times, even use "correct" English as a means of superiority. How shocked we would have been if Eliza Doolittle had said "you woz" instead of what she did say. Yet it would have been very sensible, and she would have been adopting the same usage as Boswell.

But "correct" English is only frozen English, and what is more, frozen at about the worst possible point in its development. English is not a pure language. It is a mixture of many tongues.

When the Romans came they brought a new language in the shape of Latin. Then came the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Danes, followed, in due course, by the Normans. By the time Chaucer was writing his Canterbury Tales, English was a rich mixture:
"Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges.
So were they fered for berkynge of the dogges."
So Chaucer describes the uproar when the fox runs away with the cock Chauntecleere.

It will be seen that in six or seven hundred years, the words "verray", "hogge" and "dogge" have all lost a few letters. On the other hand the word "berkynge" has sustained a net loss of one letter, though the word "fered" has acquired one extra letter.

But English did not stay put in Chaucer's England. When the English speaking people began to settle in North America, English became the leading language there, receiving additions and enrichments from many languages, such as French, German, Spanish, Scandinavian languages and many more besides.

The development of the British Empire and Commonwealth spread English still wider, to Australia, Africa, India, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya and Hong Kong. They have all added something. Everybody knows what "O.K." means, what "char" is and what is a boomerang.

There is, therefore, no such thing as pure English. English is not the language of a pedigree tribe. It is the language of many peoples, rather surprisingly called English. The student in Hong Kong or Uganda is not bowing to the language of a master race. He is simply playing his part in the creation of a worldwide tongue.

Unfortunately, the arrival of authorities, such as dictionaries and books of grammar, brought the process of evolution to a much slower pace. Whilst English was essentially a spoken language, it could go on evolving, free from academic restraint. Once it became official and used by learned persons, and when it became written down, it had to conform.

Writers had, at first, to decide the spelling for themselves. Nobody bothered about a few letters here and there. However, once written down, it became a precedent, and the more important the person, the more important the precedent,

The printing press froze English still further. By the time Caxton began to use his printing press and had printed the first book in English in 1477 there was a splendid riot of spelling, which the presses served only to perpetuate.

We have to thank people like Sir Walter Raleigh, not only for tobacco and the potato but also for some of our spelling. But the English are not a stuffy people. They are more interested in ideas than spelling. We cannot blame him too much. He had to do the best he could.

There were few to challenge him. In that heroic age of non-conformity, we can think of many who gave their lives at the stake for their theology, but none who would risk so much as a little finger in challenging official spelling.

But we must challenge it now. Quite simply we must defrost the language and get the process of evolution going again.

The kwik brown fox disguised as a word processor, is jumping over the lazy dog in the shape of a typewriter, and the computer industry may achieve in a few years what learned societies have failed to do over many decades.

In Britain the Simplified Spelling Society was founded in 1908. It has H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh as its patron. There is a vigorous society in California and another in Australia. They have produced many schemes and systems over the years, but have not been able to give one hundred per cent support to any one system.

The battle has always been between complete systems on the one hand and simple "evolutionary" changes on the other. There is the forty letter alphabet devised by George Bernard Shaw, for which he left most of his fortune. But others say we need fewer letters, not more. It is also argued that some, apparently inconsistent, groupings of letters should be left alone on the grounds that they are easily recognised and that they achieve what might be called molecular consistence,. Thus pal and "pale" are both O.K. - "ale" being taken as a molecule.

Time is running out. We must start and knock out the unwanted letters. We can all agree about that. We won't miss them. We are able to reach out into space and yet we speak a multitude of different language. It is time to begin. The kwik brown fox is jumping over the lazy dog.


Support for the Committee's approved spelling changes and for the efforts to publicise.

"Thank you for your invitation to write, and congratulations on the quality of the News Letter.

On the question of the controversy between the method of change by means of individuals on the one hand and change by the adoption of a complete new system on the other, I would like to make the following observations. I think both methods are needed:

You ask: Does the use of spelling reform by individuals make converts. I think this depends very much on the circumstances. The time and place and so on.

When a Chicago newspaper was printed in reformed spelling, it was a flop. Peopl were not redy for it. The position today is very different. As the world number one international language, English cries out for simplification of its spelling.

There is now great interest in spelling reform. Meny more peopl are redy to accept it and opposition is much less than it used to be. The dropping of unwanted letters here and there is being accepted widely especially if it is done by educated persons. Incidently it is not necessary to drop all the unwanted letters in a letter in order to have an effect. This may sometimes be better done by docking one or two words here and there.

I support the big four.

I also support the view that e as in ale can stay at the end in order to qualify the a and need not be put after the a. I call this kind of group of letters a molecule and consider that it is alright so long as we have molecular consistency.

But the pioneers need the backing of the S.S.S. The society could issue a leaflet from time to time, setting out the reformed spellings which they hav accepted. This should, as far as possible, be a list of actual words rather than in the form of rules, and should deal firstly with the basic 500 words of the language.

In addition to all this I think the Committee should produce a booklet setting out the complete system which they recommend in case they are asked by some august body what they propose.

Our strategy should be to be redy with a considered scheme so that we can expound it and advocate it.

[Ayb Citron: see Journals, Newsletters, Anthology, Bulletins.]


Ayb Citron of the group called BEtSS (Better Education thru Simplified Spelling) in the U.S.A. has recently written to the Committee with reference to the Stage 1 recommendations. On the whole he agrees with us. If you would like a copy of his letter which gives details of his own committee's opinions, I can send you one.
Example:- "We recommend that ther be only one sound for the letter "e" (as in bet, fed, error) and 'her' be spelt 'hur', 'were' be spelt 'wur', etc.


I hav to thank Ken Tillema, an ardent and active reformer, for the following article by Robert Seysmith.


The Committee ar bearing in mind what he says - that we "must follo what the general public is likely to accept."

But I myself disagree with the last paragraph, for as the Americans now read what we print, and we read what they print, in traditional orthography, so we can continue in a common simplified orthography. Dialect in Britain and in America need no more affect simplified spelling than it affects traditional orthography.
The 'practical' approach is the wun to be strongly urged for all those pushing for spelling reform - RUSSELL, TILLEMA, COBER, SEYSMITH re use of ENUF. A sticker - ENOUGH is ENUF - wuld be good for a general spelling-reform slogan on all correspondence in which it may be 'practical' to use revised spellings.

It shuld be pointed out that 'spelling reform' is the term that may be better than 'simplified spelling' because, altho simplification is the first step, it is the grōss inconsistency in English spelling, rather than 'silent letters', that is the really serius problem, and which must be tackled if any real improvement is to be realized.

Agreed that spelling reform shuld not be a 'hobby' like the pursuit of som exotic language. It has to be regarded as somthing to be practiced as far as possible whenever possible. It shuld be added that any and all changes actually used must follo what the general public is likely to accept and which anywun can easily read without wondering if the revised spelling shōws a different meaning from the usual spelling - a problem because of the outstanding use in English of homonyms with different spelling (meet, meat).

There ar quite a number of words - ruf, gaf, staf, gard, garantee, caracter, dolfin, fonetic, bundel, hassel, alow, delite, definite, foren, luv, rime, rithm, sithe, strait, freit, hight, hauty, fraut, drout, reherse, bolder, sholder, poltry, controler, wether, receit, buraucracy, hemorrage - which culd almōst certinly be practiced as of right now along with thru, tho, thoro and enuf. Mōst silent terminal E's, when not modifying the preceding vowel, culd safely be dropped, from 'som' to 'chocolat' to 'activ'.

Wun point tho, it seems to me, is that national boundaries form a problem. We really can think of changing English spelling ōnly within our ōwn cuntry - thus in effect pursuing a national dialect.

Robert Seysmith

[Gilbert Rae: see Journals, Newsletters.]


by Gilbert Rae.

The Penguin English Dictionary 3rd Edition, which is the current edition continues to use a simplified spelling system for making pronunciation clear. Its Pronunciation Guide explains -"A system of phonetic spelling is used, which consists of letters and groups of letters, the pronunciation of which is already familiar to the reader." It is in fact a kind of synthetic simplified spelling. Mr W.B. Aitken M.A. devised and applied the system.

The 'regularization' method of simplifying spelling extolled by Axel Wijk is the basic method employed. It could be called 'standardization'.

Why is the Aitken system of phonetic spelling not used as the alternative English spelling for which we have been searching? The answer is that it lacks an important attribute for this purpose. The visual connection between it and the current spelling is often non-existent, e.g. 'I' represents I, AYE, and EYE. For pronunciation only, this does not matter. (It should be mentioned that this dictionary does not give derivations.)

Another difficulty is that even where there is a visual connection in spelling, homophones are still confusing, e.g. RIGHT WRIGHT RITE and WRITE, are all 'RIt'. (Capital R, means that it must be pronounced properly. Capital I, means that it must be pronounced as a long vowel.) However, pROnunsi-ayshon in THis skeem iz wiTHowt konfowzhon,

Mr W.S. Aitken has produced a practical and ingenious pronunciation system, using only the letters of the English alphabet. It is very useful to English people; and fascinating to those who are interested in simplified spelling, as it reveals phonetic details perhaps not previously appreciated. The dictionary has other virtues explained in the opening pages.

Editors Note:

I had hoped that the dictionary would help us. But no child could be expected to rite clearly with capitals in different parts of a word.

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On other pages: part 1, part 3, part 4, part 5.