SS13. On other pages: part 1, part 3, part 4 (Supplement).

simpl speling November 2000 part 2.

[Alan Mole: see Newsletters, Web links. See ALC web for SoundSpel.]

What one member has been doing.

Spelling reform books for libraries.

Alan Mole, USA.

Most American libraries, and probably libraries in other English-speaking countries, contain no book on spelling reform. There are about 8000 such US libraries of decent size. I have determined that quantity printing of suitable books (eg, hardback, 320 pages) is only about $2.75 a copy. (See and write for details).

It may be within the financial capability of a society to:

a. Write all libraries asking if they'd accept a free copy of a book describing reform and containing several novels and stories in reformed spelling (RS) - a 'reader' as it were.

b. Print 3000 copies and send them to the first 3000 libraries to say 'yes'. This would cost about $12,000.

But will libraries accept such an offer?

For test purposes I produced a book containing Oz, The Time Machine, Wind in the Willows and Secret Garden in RS (most in SoundSpel, Wind in Cut Spelling) and a few short stories, plus a couple of chapters on reform. At 320 pages and custom bound it ran to $37 a copy. I only made four. (Low costs come only with mass production.) It was on eight-and-a-half by eleven inch paper and bound like an American high school yearbook in leatheret. It was pitched as general interest plus an aid to struggling readers.

The Boulder Library, of 250,000 volumes, accepted a copy. The librarian for the smaller Littleton Library said she would accept one and would say 'Yes' to the sample letter I showed her. 'We haven't much money but if it's free...' The librarian in the Denver Public Library, which is quite large, looked at the letter and approved. She looked at the book and said 'Yes, I'd like to buy two copies for the main library and one for each of the branches.' I was ecstatic, but had to explain to her that while I could give her one copy, there were only four in existence, so that was all she could have.

I presented the idea to the ALC but they decided there isn't money enuff. At least for now.
The idea is that it should be easy to produce text in SoundSpel. BTRSPL, even the Windows version, is too clumsy and daunting for most users. Thus there should be an add-on for Word and other word processing programs. Users open Word and type their material, then click an icon on the toolbar and get instant SoundSpel. Likewise for the common email program, Microsoft Outlook.

120 years ago

1880 The English Philological Association adopted a list of simplified spellings.


Promoting reform in general.

Having spent 25 years (half my life) in political parties, I have observed a trend in membership which seems to follow a consistent pattern. The membership embraces everybody from nominal (paid fee, otherwise inactive) thru the seat warmer (attends meetings), activist (promotes, attends conferences, advances ideas old and new), candidate (rejected, selected, elected) to career politician and party servant.

SSS had existed well beyond all my life before I discovered it in 1999 (Allan Campbell in the South Island had written to my local daily paper in the North Island).

In my so-far limited encounter with SSS, I suspect the Society has a membership spanning something like all the involvement levels typical of a voluntary organization with intellectual appeal.

If this is so, perhaps we need realistic expectations of what we as an all-welcoming Society can achieve in consensus, otherwise agreeing to disagree.

Speaking as a once-upon-a-time Esperantist, I think the promotion of a 'fully-baked idea' is the function of a defined group, ideally within SSS.

Chris Kiwi, New Zealand. [See Newsletters.]

Letters → syllables →words → literacy!

During the 1994-1995 school year, when our children Skye, Elias, and Moriah were ages eight, six and three, I had the opportunity to observe literacy teaching firsthand in Brazil, where I taught English as a second language.

Elias (6) was ready to learn to read. At the school in which they studied, the children are first taught the individual letters, then after the mastery of these they move to syllables or two letter combinations, which are sometimes parts of words that they know, sometimes not, just possible sound combinations of the language.

They begin with the most common consonants, being m, l, s, b and so on. Only after mastery of these 'nonsense syllables' do the children progress to words.

The advancement is smooth, constant and without giant leaps to the next level.

When I asked about tutoring or special helps for children who had difficulties learning to read, the teacher responded that by the time the children learn all of the letters and their associated sounds, there are no problems: the children figure it out and are ready to move to the next level.

Soon they are literate!

Ruth Ann Hendrix, USA.

WordStar still up to the job.

Reading Accessing special characters (SSJuly99), I was horrified at the complexity of MS Word. Readers facing this problem may be interested in my experience. I often type letters in French or German, and Spanish, Danish, and Swedish. I have typeset a book in Spanish using the following method!

WordStar, one of the first word processor programs was overshadowed by much-hyped later rivals. However, it remains comprehensive and versatile. Some of the control codes are illogical and need memorizing, but once this is done it is easy to use. Some codes have been superseded by newer keyboards (eg, with Page Up/Down), and u can set your own control codes on the function keys.

An international character set can be selected in the default-setting program. Once done, the German ä, ö, ü and Dutch ë can be typed by typing " followed by the letter; French (and Spanish) acute-accent letters by apostrofe plus the letter; a grave by the strange key at the top-left of the keyboard plus the letter; circumflex by circumflex-letter; cedilla-c by comma-c and ñ by tilde-n. Swedish letters and German ß can be accessed by typing Control-P-zero, which brings up a table of additional characters; u select the one u want by number-Return, and the letter appears in your text.

Once u have memorized the numbers, u can then reuse them with an ALT-code number. The Danish ø is not available, but a Greek theta is a satisfactory alternative. Other European characters are in the CTL-P-zero table. WordStar allows overprinting, so u can make up more letters such as the Polish L with a bar in it.

The drawback to selecting the international default is when u need to type a quotation mark followed by a vowel, u need to type the quote mark twice; and if u are typing a comma delimited database, u need to put in each comma twice. These are small prices to pay for flexible language access.

Ted Relton. England (Abridged). [See Newsletters.]

Technically yes, psychologically ...?

The remarks attributed to educational technologist Ken Spencer (SSJuly2000) about the 'foneticity' or 'foneticness' of written words deserve a critical examination. According to Spencer, 'foneticity' of a written word is determined by 'calculating how frequently a particular foneme was represented (spelled) by various grafemes.' Spencer does not divulge why he believes this process is more valid for its purpose than is calculation of the various ways a letter or letter cluster can be sounded out, ie, the identification of the various speech sounds that can be attached to a given letter or letter cluster. In JSSS 25, 1999/1 I reported the total numbers involved in these two kinds of calculation are approximately the same.

However, is the mechanical, ie, non-psychological, determination of the foneticity of written words a reliable process? My experimental research findings, cited in the above JSSS, suggest that Spencer's views are technically correct, but psychologically indefensible.

In this respect, I found that when beginning readers gain the approximate pronunciation of words which Spencer deems to have a low foneticity rating (such as have), they readily infer the correct pronunciation of the words. This evidence clearly refutes the results of Spencer's technical computations of 'unfonetic words.'

I thus propose that a future goal of the SSS be to discover the full psychological nature of fonetic spellings, as I attempted to do in my experimental research. I argue that until members of the SSS obtain much more of such psychological information, the recommendations they make for fonetic alfabets be put on hold. At least, I hope that my remarks will generate an exchange of views between defenders of Spencer's type of research on fonetic words, and those who find my evidence compelling.

Patrick Groff, USA. Professor of Education Emeritus. [See Journals, Newsletters, Bulletins]

Revised English spelling - w and y.

Wand y are as good as the remaining 19 consonants. However, they have an additional aspect: at times they act as vowels. W requires to be preceded by a, e, or o, for example: raw, new, cow, grow. In new and cow its sound is clear, but in the others it is unascertainable. In fact, vowel sounds of w are obtainable otherwise. For example: rawro, new, → neu, cowcou, growgrau.

Is it absolutely necessary to have the help of w to obtain a vowel sound? Its use as a vowel should be discontinued. According to the Revised English Spelling System, the vowel sound as in pot is obtainable exclusively from o and certainly not from au or aw. Similarly, vowel sound as in show is obtainable exclusively from the digraf au and not from those such as b(oa)t, t(oe), m(ou)ld, gr(ow), etc.

The case of y is different. It gives two sounds: 1) i as in (p)y(ramid), (k)ey, (pl)ay, etc; and 2) aay as in my. This shows that y may or may not have any preceding vowel. Sounds aa and y(es) are combined and the resultant is treated as one vowel sound aay, its alfabetic name being waay (y) and not aay or as in (w)i(ne) (I). Y (and not I) am a teacher.

G V Phadke, India.

'Overwhelming choice' not favored.

I see that a new draft chart evaluating spelling schemes has been compiled. From it, it is clear that j is the overwhelming choice for the /dzh/ sound.

However, I feel I must dissent from that choice.

We cannot get away form the fact that most European languages use j for the /y/ sound. Compare the transcription Rossiyawith Rossija and the second is clearly preferable.

Using j like this also releases y, which gives us an extra vowel symbol. The /dzh/ sound would then have to be represented by a digraf (x = /sh/, tx = /tsh/, dx [gx] = /dzh/, zx = /zh/ might be considered).

Robert Craig, England. [See Journals, Newsletters.]

Letters of no more than 250 words, preferably on topics from Simpl Speling, are invited.

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On other pages: part 1, part 3, part 4 (Supplement).