SS4. On other pages: part 1, part 2.

simpl speling November 1997 part 3.

[Allan Campbell: see Journals, Newsletters, Media.]


More than a glimmer.

My first day at secondary school was a disaster. The 1200 boys gathered in the school hall to be addressed by the headmaster and allocated their various classes. Long lists of names were read out and I listened ... and listened ... and heard no mention of my name.
- Sir Edmund Hillary. Nothing Venture, Nothing Win.

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
- Romeo and Juliet 2:1
Names can seem important, but it is more likely it was Juliet's plaint that crossed the minds of members as they picked up this newly titled issue of the newsletter. After all, what was wrong with the old title?

Essentially, nothing! It told exactly what the publication was and who published it. A good label.

Nonessentially, it was a mouthful (13 syllables). Even 'SSS Newsletter' was long enuf and ment nothing to the uninitiated; 'The Newsletter' even less.

And it was bland. It gave very little vision, only a glimmer of its mission. No example of what might be, a glance into the future.

The newsletter's title can be a regular reminder of the goal of the Society. And a prod to the conscience: What have I done lately to lead us closer to this goal?

Nonmembers who read it or read of it will see from both the words and their spellings what we are on about.

I proposed the words and spellings to the committee in April after considering a number of options. There was an objection that Speling didn't unambiguously show the short value of the e. But there are no actual clashing forms, so that didn't seem too serious a concern. On the suggestion of a member, the words were simplified further by dropping the initial capitals in the ikon, tho we will capitalize in text.

The spellings indicate simplification and shortening, and illustrate forms from at least two of the spelling systems that have been put to the Society.

The new title is not set in concrete and can be changed again if and when that will help the campaign.

Simpl Speling's 'style'.

When I took on editing the Newsletter, I decided against a hotchpotch of competing (and off-putting) spelling systems. But I also wanted to practise what we preached.'

So, taking a global view of the language, I settled on a system that uses the best forms (in my opinion) from any reputable dictionary published anywhere in the world.

These include formal (center, dialog, realize, fulfil, color, practise) and informal (tho, thru, boro; and now U).

In addition I wanted to stretch the boundaries. Cornell Kimball, publisher, and I came up with a restricted use of Harry Lindgren's SR 1 (about a quarter of the total): e only for short /e/ (deth, frend, breth) I have also tilted at ough (enuf, tuf, cof, bou).

If I miss a better, dictionary-recognized form, please let me know.

Jean Wilkinson, USA, in the July Newsletter related what she had been doing for spelling modernization. Her account told of writing short pieces, reflecting her thoughts on spelling, to anyone who would read them. We plan to publish some of these as the opportunity offers. They are not copyright.

Jean writes.

If U could spell Wednesday any way U liked ...

While passing out free zucchini from our garden, I conducted this small survey at random from our middle-class neighborhood and relatives, July-August 1997. I questioned 25 people, aged 11 to 88, including two teenagers. Not everyone answered every question. Tallied votes are:
6 Wednesday; 13 Wensday; also Winsday, Whensday, Wednsday (intended to be TO spelling by boy age 11), Wenesday, Wed.

6 February; 10 Febuary (one vote intended to be TO, by same boy); also: 3 Febuwary; Pheb-you-aiery (there's always a clown among us), Feburary, Febury.

9 enough; 8 enuf; also: 3 enuff; enouf.

10 women; 6 wemen; 2 wimen; also: weoman, wimman, wimmen, wman.

10 one; 3 wun; 3 won; also: 1, wone, wn.
In asking for the spelling of February, I pronounced it 'Febuary,' as American TV broadcasters now do. Without exception, those who used the word in our conversation said 'Febu-', even if they chose 'Febru-' as their preferred spelling. Two people commented "We should be saying 'Febru-'."

Another said: "It took me 40 years to learn how to spell February and I'm not going to change it now!" The next day, at my home, he said: "I'd like to change that response to Febuary.

Another said of February: "I always try to put the r in. If only I knew where to put it!" She had Feburary as her preference.

A retired junior high school secretary said we should be pronouncing Wednesday as it is spelled: Wed-nes-day. It is our pronunciation that is incorrect. "People are so embroiled in the current pronunciation that the spelling has become unimportant.

One person observed one could not be changed because won meant something else. One was the only TO spelling that polled more than its total alternate spellings.

Another participant felt strongly that weoman was an accepted spelling of women, but was unable to find it in the dictionary. I found two occurrences of it among the many archaic spellings of women in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Out of 25 people questioned, only two were consistently satisfied with current dictionary spellings. "Because it's right." "Because U can't change the world."

Five or six of the questioned people previously knew I was interested in spelling. Only three advocated changes in all five words. Two of the three could have been influenced by previously knowing of my hobby.

I asked one if she had already received my paper on the evolution of Wednesday as recorded in the OED. She said: "Yes. I still have it. I made photocopies of it and sent them to my frends." I was touched.

A frend added: "I tutored a couple of Japanese students; that's when U find how crazy your language is."

When I asked a Flemish neighbor how she'd spell Wednesday, she asked: "Can I spell it in French?" She had no idea how to simplify it, but did say "Why we have a d in there? We don't need that." She mentioned that since she had moved from Belgium, Flemish spelling had undergone an updating. [See letters, - Ed.]

My cousin suggested wman and wn, not knowing that cut spelling attempts to eliminate silent letters that have no function; ie, silnt letrs, wrds. I'm going to suggest she call her technique 'Supercuts' (which is also a barbershop franchise popular around here).

A trap in producing a publication espousing simplified spelling is that sometimes the 'correct' spelling is incorrect, and vice versa. Spell checkers are no help!

In Jean Wilkinson's 'Op-Ed letter' in the July issue, 'Febuary' was twice printed with an r too many - in the final sentences of the first and fifth paragraphs. We apologize to Jean and readers for our error and suggest a reread with the corrections marked.

[Steve Bett: see Journals, Newsletters, Personal View, Web links.]

Spelling on the 'net.

Members get cool and automate.

Steve Bett.

Since the July Newsletter the informal SSS mailing list has become an automated list using the server software and facilities of Coollist.

I was thinking of finding a university that would provide server space at no cost. Nick Kerr not only came up with the idea of using a commercial service but also volunteered to be the list manager. Since this is a non-censored list, anything anyone writes to the list gets posted; the manager's duties are explaining the joining and the unsubscribing procedure to current and new members, and checking that all is going smoothly.

The informal list worked fine until someone wanted to subscribe or unsubscribe. Since there was not one list but as many lists as there were subscribers, it was hard to get on and off everyone's individual list. The automated list solves this problem by having a single centralized list and a simple standardized way to subscribe and unsubscribe. When U send a message, it is automatically forwarded to all on the list. Remember to send your requests to start or stop the mail to another address.

There are three ways to join the list:
1. Send a blank message to the Coollist robot.
2. Send an email to Nick.
3. Visit Nick's web site and follow the instructions.

Here you can type in your email address and click the Add me button.

The list currently has between 20 and 25 subscribers who generate about 20 messages a day. Not everyone is a participant, usual in lists forums and acceptable, tho it would be good to hear from the quiet ones occasionally.

The principal benefit of the list so far has been to clarify issues and learn about various solutions to the problem of simplifying English orthography. Creative orthographers need to know every possible critique of their notation proposals. The list has been a great source of critiques.

While it has created better understanding of alternative notational systems and alternative solutions to various problems, it has not (yet) resulted in any consensus.

The principal reason is there are several goals and no agreement on their relative importance. If your main goal is providing a pronunciation guide, your solution will be different than that of the person whose goal is to provide minimal notation for communication or the person who wants to make TO just a little more regular without changing the basic word pattern.

There has been progress in stating the issues dividing warring factions. This is not consensus, but it is a start.

The closest thing to an agreement has been the use of the apostrophe for the (unstressed /uh/) where not marking it would lead to ambiguity. The schwa has now been incorporated into four notational systems, so there is still hope for further convergence.

While there is agreement on the general goals to be achieved by the new spelling (listed below) there is little agreement on their relative importance:
Taken to the extreme, many of these goals are not mutually achievable; eg, the optimum guide to pronunciation is not going to be simple or easily taught.

Tale peace.

A very correct postal sistme.

Dear Miss C ..........

we have made enquiries at auer end also abut your parcel. The post office in Zurich is serten that the parcel as got as far as England.

Wie have a very correct postal sistme.

Wiw have also spocken to Mrs. A ........ and got a description of the parcel.

Wie are also certen that the parcel was correctly adressed becouse otherwise the parcel would have come bach to us. We hope that you will be able to find the parcel at your end.

Wie are sorry that wie are not able to do more for you

Your sincerli.

A. M ...

[An old typewritten letter found in an Ipswich insurance office and submitted by Tony, of England.]

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On other pages: part 1, part 2.