News 7. [underlined words and letters in the original are here presented as headings or in italics.]
On other pages: part 2, part 3, part 4.
NEWSLETTER. FEBRUARY 1985, [part 1.]
See Journal and Newsletter items by Mona Cross.
Letter from Mona Cross, Editor and Publicity Officer.Dear Members and Interested Peopl,
Thank you all for the letters and articls which you hav sent to me.
From the News Letter you will see that the theme which they hav in common is the wish to get rid of unnecessarily peculiar spellings and to replace them with fonetic ones. From those simple aims has followed a preference by sum for an adaptation of the well thaut out, formerly recommended "Nue Spellings" Others prefer "Cut Spelling", which cancels out the fonetic variations e.g. "cmty for committee", and which is leading to a form of "Speed Rieting".
It is comforting to me to no that all rieters ar absolutely certain that "Spelling Reform" never alters language. The recent oral correspondence on the "Today Program" on Radio 4 begun by John Ogden, showed such a silly ignorance by two members of the public. One lady had ritten to state that she was "furious that anyone wanted to change our beautiful English language" - she was obviously unaware that when she had red Shakepeare's "beautiful English language" at school that she had red it in an orthodox script quite different from that in which it had been ritten.
I am still hoping that our replies to her will be red out. Following the two ladies Radio letters, John Ogden riets two points which represent very common reactions:-
1. Equating spelling reform with language reform.People need to be reassured that we do not contemplate an assault in the language itself, but rather to do it the service of representing it more accurately.
2. Seeing simplification as a serious cultural threat.
John Ogden has not received enuf copies of articls ritten to newspapers by members. Perhaps you'v only been thinking of rieting? Without your help we can't, reach ordinary peopl. If we don't then all the work on reformd schemes is wasted, for no-one will even hear about them. Your own realisation that simpler spelling means easier reading will never be graspd by them.
At the Conference on July 27, 28, 29 there will be speakers with one aim, but varied opinions. Judging by former conferences (1975, 1979, 1981) it will be a frendly, stimulating weekend. As there'll be plenty of time to discuss things you would find it particularly worth your while to cum. I hope to see old and new members and "Interested People" there.
The next newsletter will be published after the Conference ie. an August Newsletter.
You may have noticed that the cover is different yet it has the same words as the October Newsletter. This is becaus two peopl made an October one (based on my July one) So this month I am using our Committee member, Alan Bye's design (after altering the month) - you yourself miet like to make a cover, using the 'Nue Spelling' words. It would be received with pleasure!
P.S. This letter and comments ritten by me show an attempt to use the early stages of Nue Spelling reform.
See Journal and Newsletter items by Stanley Gibbs.
ITEMS FROM MY POSTBAG.
From the Hon. Secretary, Stanley Gibbs, Oadby, Leicestershire.
See Journal and Newsletter items by Edgar Gregersen.
Professor E. Gregersen, New York. Dec 1984.
I hope that the SSS will reconsider the need for greater fonetic accuracy and greater toleration in dealing with dialect variation.
See Journal and Newsletter items by Robert Craig.
R. Craig, Weston-Super-Mare, Jan 1985.
If you want six reforms for Stage 2, I would suggest:
1. Deletion of initial silent letters from words such as, wrote, know, gnaw, psalm, hour etc.
2. Only a singl consonant after schwa vowel; apear, aproach, atempt etc.
3. Deletion of surplus h's (in digrafs); chaos, choism, what, when, school etc.
4. Only a singl consonant finally, wil, shal, al, spel, etc.
5. Deletion of l in would, could, should.
6. Internal y pronounced i to be written i; sistem, mith, simptom, etc. (reply, happy, etc to be left for a later stage.)
See Journal article by H.W. Herbert
H.W. Herbert, Kenmore, Queensland, Australia, Jan 1985.
About 100 people replied, 85% favoured the ough and augh reform being adopted first. Of the 15% who disagreed, 2 people wanted to start with SR1 (short e) and the rest wanted no change to spelling.
Below is a reference to the Hon Secretary's next proposed "C as in the word chemist, spelled cemist".
See Journal and Newsletter items by Alan Bye.
Committee Member Alan Bye of Northampton replies: February 1985.
This I think is a non-starter unless all other c e words ar respelled with an S. Chemist, Christmas etc should need K and be rendered Kemist, (or Kemmist) Kristmas etc
Mrs J Lintern, Gen Secretary i.t.a. federation, Oct 1983.
My experiences convinced me of the crying need for a simplified but augmented alfabet to provide a speech-related fonetic START for our children. I must be honest and say that I hav not yet accepted the idea of spelling reform .... my love for history and tradition creates a barrier for me.
[See Journal, Newsletter, and Bulletin articles, by John Beech.]
The S.S.S. is doing a 'fine job' and I wish it every encouragement.
Dr. John Beech (now at Leicester University) January 1985.
See Journal, Newsletter articles and Pamflet 12 by Laurie Fennelly.
The Revision of NEW SPELLING.
In 1948 the Society published the 6th Edition of its
NEW SPELLING, as revised by
Daniel Jones, a fonetician of world-wide renown. The project for spelling reform was
Parliament in 1953 and
narrowly defeated. Since when nothing more has been heard of NEW SPELLING.
All our letters to the papers, all our propaganda ar so much time wasted if we cannot answer the simple question, "Well, what is your scheme?"
Recognising this, the Committee of the Society has set up a working Party to review NEW SPELLING, and to bring out a revised version if that is found necessary. NEW SPELLING is itself a most valuable book. It sets out a logical and consistent scheme for spelling reform, based on a careful statistical analysis of current (i.e. 1940's) practice. When one reads it today, the only immediat criticisms one is tempted to make ar really quite minor. Its style smacks very much of a past academic world, and some of the pronunciations recommended ar no longer current. But a more serious criticism has come to be levelled agenst NEW SPELLING in the last ten years or so, notably by Axel Wijk. This is that NEW SPELLING has no chance of being accepted by public opinion because it changes the spelling of too meny words. One might rejoin that public opinion never does accept change, but nonetheless it seemed sensible to take these criticisms seriously and re-examin NEW SPELLING in the light of them.
The working party is far from having completed its work, but there is one general comment on NEW SPELLING that may be made. Its authors seem to hav credited ordinary English speakers with a fonetic awareness that they ar far from possessing. For example they insist on differentiating between voiced and unvoiced consonants - notably in the final 'plural' 's', which must become 'z' where the sound is voiced. Thus 'dogz' as agenst 'cats'. No ordinary person would be conscious of this difference unless his attention wer drawn to it, and in eny case the fonetic difference is less important from the point of view of consistency than the grammatical relationship.
Do not spelling reformers today tend to be guilty of the same error?
The working party has a second task - to examin the method of introducing eny spelling reform, and the administrative problems involved. There seems to be surprisingly little work on the subject in English, tho clearly there must be work in other languages. Possibly the magnitude of the changes needed in English means that the experience of other languages is of little relevance.
At the moment introducing a spelling reform by 'stages' is the policy of the Society, and indeed of most reformers, and dare I say, it has become almost received doctrine. But apart from an article by David Stark in our last News Letter, I know of no work that has been done on the subject, and indeed how can there be, unless one has a specific scheme to work from? The basic difficulty is that in meny words two or more changes will hav to be made. Is it really feasible to divide these changes up over several stages? As an example, if the superfluous 'gh' is to be dropped in 'taught', what is one to do with 'fight'? Does it become 'fite' or 'fiet' or, if I may leak one of the working party's probable proposals 'fyt'?
The Society has tested this experimentally by introducing a 'Stage One' consisting of five individual changes. And despite all its care it has come up agenst the same problem. In accordance with one of the changes 'head' becomes 'hed'. But what then does 'headed' become? 'Heded' would be pronounced like 'heeded', so it would be necessary to introduce the double 'dd'. But the abolition of this method of indicating a short vowel is a key feature of NEW SPELLING. To introduce 'hedded' temporarily as a sort of intermediat stage is clearly impossible.
And of course a reform of English spelling could not be spred over more than two or three stages if chaos is to be avoided.
Finally there ar the administrativ problems to be considered. Just as a start, there would be a complete upheaval in all alfabetical listings. Then every household would need a small work-book of old and new spellings. (Perhaps this would not be too great a problem - the Highway Code was once issued like this.) But the problem in the schools would not be quite so simply solved. Seven to eleven year olds would no doubt make a fresh start, with whatever enthusiasm, but who would lay doun a uniform policy for the older pupils - and for the examining boards? Clearly adults can be allowed the freedom in their privat spelling that they once enjoyed, but it is an illusion to think that eny kind of spelling reform can be introduced without the participation of the government.
The devastating criticism has been made in the past that there is no hope for spelling reform, as the reformers cannot even agree among themselves. The Society must meet this by producing a single, thaut out scheme which it is prepared to put forward as viable and practicable, worthy to be considered by a governmental commission and by similar bodies in the USA and the Commonwealth, New and Old. Only in this way can we win the attention, not only of public authorities, but of academic and business institutions, and of the mass of ordinary people.
Our Conference in late July is designed under the theme of "Spelling Reform Now" to giv the spelling reform movement a new start. The various topics of discussion ar listed elsewhere in this News Letter, but behind them or is the idea of efficiency. As our President sed last year, the present system of spelling English is above all inefficient. It is inefficient for learning, inefficient in general use, and now inefficient in the computer age. The main international language must become efficient.
Laurence R. Fennelly
Addendum: This article has been spelt in accordance with Stage One. In its rather more than a thousand words there have been 33 changes as follows:-
as for augh
|fonetic (2), alfabetical|
eny (3), meny (2), agenst (3), sed, spred
ar (5), hav (2), giv, wer, -ive (3), -ine (3), -ate (3)
The Simplified Spelling Society
Fourth International Conference (1985)
Fourth International Conference (1985)
"SPELLING REFORM NOW"
The Conference will be at Southampton University from Friday, July 26th to Sunday, July 28th, 1985. Accommodation and lectures will be in the Connaught Hall of the University. It is open to all who are interested in spelling reform, whether they are Members of the Society or not.
The aim of the Conferenceis above all to discuss a practical programme for spelling reform.
The topics to be discussedare as follows:-
1. The Simplified Spelling Society presents a revised version of its "New Spelling" (6th Edition 1948) for discussion and, if acceptable, eventual adoption as the Society's policy.
2. The method of introducing a revised spelling system. Is a policy of "stages" feasible, and if so what stages should there be? What are the other social and administrative problems involved.
3. A revised spelling of English for those countries, particularly in the New Commonwealth, which use English as a second language.
4. Spelling reform in relation to the computer and other modern technology.
5. Spelling reform as a way to more efficient learning in schools.
The list of speakersis being drawn up at the moment, but those who would like to contribute to any of these topics are asked to write urgently to Mr. R. Baker, the Convener of the Conference, at the address given below.
There will also be a time set apart for short contributions on other topics of spelling reform.
Southampton is an attractive city at the centre of an area of great historical interest. It is 70 minutes from London by Inter-City train, and there is a frequent coach service direct to Heathrow Airport.
Connaught Hall itself is pleasantly situated. There is a good bus service into Southampton City Centre, and it is only 5 minutes by car from Eastleigh Airport, and from an access point on to the M27. (The M27 motorway is now complete, and is fully open.)
Accommodation and Cost.
Connaught Hall offers mostly single study-bedrooms with washbasins. There are a small number of double rooms, and also a somewhat larger number of single rooms built in pairs, and sharing a washbasin. Meals are taken in the Hall.
The inclusive cost for the Conference and 2 days with full board will be £48, The non-residential fee will be £10.
Residential members are asked to pay a deposit of £10 on booking. The deposit is refundable for cancellations made before May 1st, but not after.
Enquiries. All enquiries should be addressed to:
Laurence R. Fennelly, Southampton. Hants.
Offers to speak and correspondence concerning the programme should be addressed to the Convener of the Conference, Mr Robert Baker, at the same address as above.
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On other pages: part 2, part 3, part 4.