SS16. On other pages: part 1, part 2, part 3.
[Allan Campbell: see Journals, Newsletters, Media, Spell 4 Literacy NZ.]

simpl speling November 2001 part 4 members' supplement.

Editor: Allan Campbell.

Message from the president.

Donald Scragg.

First, I would like to apologize for this message being sent so late. I was out of the country when the terrible events of last week occurred, and when I, like the rest of the world, watched horrified as they unfolded.

But late as the message comes, it is no less heartfelt. I should like on behalf of the Society to extend my deepest sympathy to all of our American members and their frends and families, and indeed to all of so many nationalities who are caught up in this tragic event. Quite apart from the question of simple humanity, which must unite us all in condemnation of this outrage, we who are users of the English language have an extra bond to link us and to make us too feel the pain which America is at present suffering. In all grief, there is some consolation in knowing that others feel it too. To our American frends I would say simply that u are not alone.

[Editor's note: This message was first sent to email members shortly after the events, i.e the 9-11 attacks.]

A new editor, a new format?

The editor of Simpl Speling, Allan Campbell, has resigned, effective from March 2002.

The SSS committee welcomes suggestions for the format of future newsletters and offers to take on or share the production.

Email accessibility is desirable for the position, but non-emailers will be considered. Any who are interested should contact Jean Hutchins.

Confidence in committee.

The Society's president, Professor Donald Scragg, at the October committee meeting expressed his confidence in the executive officers of the committee.

In order to help the chairman, Chris Jolly, to present an audit report at the AGM on SSS progress towards its aims and objectives, members are asked to keep a note of their articles and letters published in the media (since April), and to let him know of any personal website they have on spelling reform.

Thanks to webmasters.

The committee expressed thanks to Chris Upward and Tim Hooton, of Aston University, for managing and editing the Society's website for seven years.

Hook debate or bait de hook.

Jerry Dicker, UK.

After years as a teacher and parent, I think reform would be good because it would help learners. But what first got me interested was spotting spelling patterns in my early teens when trying to solve simple codes. I tried devising my own simple spelling system but never managed to crack it satisfactorily.

Recently I thaut that if we could find out what first got current members interested in spelling reform, we could use that inforimation to fish for new potential members. I asked the email group what had got them started. From the responses so far it appears there are several different species to be lured by varying the bait.

Three mentioned childhood experiences: 'When I was a kid I thaut it absurd that letters did not always say what they were supposed to say.'

'My accent did not fit the teacher's. Not having seen bread written I wrote braird.'

'I sat in class at the age of five and a half and tried to make sense of a chart with the words could, would and should on. At one stage we were working with this chart nearly every day.'

One cited learning English as an adult:
'I wanted to learn other languages but had to learn their spelling absurdities. Of course, English was the worst.'

One claimed logic and tidiness as a motivator. 'It's another clumsy information system like non-metric measures.'

Personal approaches from engaged reformers hooked two more.

Four came to it as teachers who observed pupils' frustrations - 'the tremendous effort some children made with such piddling returns.'

And three actually felt embarrassed by the inconsequentiality of the spelling of their mother tongue. One of these, Ron Footer, quotes his laundry list when working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 'I think these direct quotes sum it up,' he says.


In the past few months four Society members have been thinking globally, acting locally, in taking the cause to the media. Summaries are given below, with fuller versions available.

'Grin and bear' a general hint?

Silent letters, foreign students of English, the Society's search for uniformity and regularity in spelling, the effects of the introduction and use of ITA as a teaching tool, 'grinning and bearing' TS, and a more active Society were among the topics covered by the Society's membership secretary, John Gledhill, in an interview on BBC Radio West Midlands in September.

The program marked the 40th anniversary of the introduction of ITA.

Answering a suggestion that we should learn TS from an early age, 'develop an intuition for how words should look', and 'grin and bear what we have', John said we could learn just the word shapes, and be in the same relm as road signs or pictograms or Chinese. This would say that letters ment nothing, or at best were a very general hint.

'U are saying: Let us make up some very nice-looking words that show all the etymologies, and so on. I think people learning to read want to be able to look at a word and work out what it says if it's one they haven't come across before,' he said.

[John Gledhill: see Journals, Newsletters, Media.]

Doug's letter brings fierce reply

In a letter to The Satellite, a suburban Brisbane weekly newspaper, in late September Doug Everingham echoed some of the points made by Jerry Dicker (below), including time wasted on remedial groups and adult literacy classes.

His letter drew an immediate fierce reply from a reader accusing Doug of wanting to 'bastardize the language more than is being done at present' with American and colloquial slang. 'Let's face it, people are getting lazier by the minute.' If continental children were becoming literate earlier, as Doug had claimed, 'why is it they use so many English words these days?'

Doug replied: No spelling is more bastardized than ours, imported from Anglo-Saxon (wrought), French (beauty), Latin (receipt), Greek (psychology) with updated sounds but fossilized spellings.

'Other languages import English words for their clarity', he wrote. 'What they don't import is our spelling for its rigidity and confusion. Spaniards play futbol and French gourmets eat rosbif, but they pronounce them according to their languages' more consistent spelling rules'.

[Doug Everingham: see Journals, Newsletters, Bulletins.]

A test of employability.

'Instead of an enabling skill it has become a test of employability.'

This is one of the statements on spelling made in an article in the Thornbury Gazette in August by Jerry Dicker, an SSS member from Thornbury, in the west of England. 'What a lot of time and energy is wasted on teaching this archaic system to generations of people in mainstream classes, remedial groups and adult literacy classes,' he said.

Jerry told of his involvement with the costs inquiry. 'A small group, of which I am the only English member, has been asking employers if poor spelling is causing them cost implications.' He had interviewed two employers and would like to talk to more. (This request did not bring any response.)

He also explained how the RITE group, of which he is a member, was testing its limited reform proposal against public opinion. The report quoted from the RITE website, and gave examples of proposed changes. [See Link to RITEspel.]

Outburst triggers TV interview

An outburst in October on the illiteracy of some of his graduate employees by the prominent founder of a successful local electronics business led to Allan Campbell being interviewed by a local TV channel.

In the first half of the 5min item a local principal decried the literacy standard of teacher trainees.

In Allan's section, points that made the air included: spelling as a cause of low literacy; other languages upgrading, notably German and Swedish, along with Swedish's hi literacy rate, and English not since Dr Johnson; not wanting to change the language, just the spelling - a tool; the select committee's explanations of why it didn't recommend our proposal; and making life easier for learners.

The interview finished with a full-screen shot of the slogan 'Enuff is enuff. Enough is too much,' prepared beforehand, 72pt on an A4 page.

What Allan found pleasing was how the young reporter, who obviously had never thaut much about spelling change, took a while to realize we were not trying to change the language, but then began to warm to the idea of changing the spelling.

Guidelines for presentation of members' schemes as Personal Views are available from Paul Fletcher, London, England.

Back to the top.
On other pages: part 1, part 2, part 3.