SSS Conferences:
1. 1975 London (John Downing)
2. 1979 Northampton (Mona Cross)
3. 1981 Edinburgh (Valerie Yule)
4. 1985 Southampton (Laurie Fennelly)
5. 1987 Aston, Birmingham (Chris Upward)

Simplified Spelling Society
Fifth International Conference

Spelling for Efficiency,

Details and Programme.

(Data appearing in both documents are not repeated here.)

Friday-Sunday 24-26 July 1987

Aston University, Birmingham: James Gracie Conference Centre. Details, directions and a map were given.

For conference facilities, full board, with accommodation at conference centre, £60 for 48 hours, £30 for 24 hours; non-residential with all meals. £40 for 2 days, £20 for 1 day; single meals by arrangement.

Chris Upward (host organizer) Chris Jolly (chairman, Simplified Spelling Society)

Chris Upward, Department of Modern Languages, Aston University, Birmingham.


It was long thought English spelling reform just meant writing words by their sound. But the obstacles to this procedure are now clear: above all the variations in pronunciation and the need to ensure continuity of literacy.

Instead of phonographic representation, the principle now proposed is efficiency, i.e. the convenience of all categories of user. The task facing orthographers is thus to determine what kind of spelling best meets this criterion.

The requirements are complex, often conflicting. How can the needs of children and adults, native speakers and foreign learners, backward readers and skilled professionals, key-board operators and sip-writers, poets and journalists, graphic designers and secretaries, scholars and publishers all be reconciled?

The conference therefore invites linguists and psychologists, educationists and typographers, theorists and practitioners to help develop such an orthography. The starting point will be the report of the Society's working party which is now updating New Spelling, as revised by Daniel Jones and Harold Orton in 1948. The report will be available before the conference.

The conference aims to collate insights from teaching, publishing, linguistics, psychology, and related fields to develop a common understanding of the different expectations and constraints which any proposal for reforming English spelling must take into account if it is to attract support.

It is hoped the 1987 conference will renew the pressure for English spelling reform. More is now expected of written English than ever: maximum effectiveness of individuals, maximum literacy in society, an easy-to-master language for world use. Yet its spelling remains a major, though remediable, barrier to the achievement of these aims. It is time to reconsider how it might best be improved in the light of present knowledge, needs and circumstances.

The conference will extend the Society's role as a forum for all those interested in improved writing systems. The question has several dimensions: international, because English is a world-language; interdisciplinary, because it involves mental processes, social interaction, autonomous systems, and advances in technology; and presentational, because although requiring sophisticated analysis, it must still be accessible to those of below-average intelligence. But the Society has a practical aim too: to bring about a reform of English spelling; and it is hoped the conference will not only enable ideas on spelling reform to be exchanged, but also consider ways of developing public awareness of the issue and influencing the key decision-makers in the field.


All plenary sessions in Conference Room 2
1500-1800Main Entrance: Arrival, registration, tea
2000Welcome and introduction
Tom McArthur, Editor English Today:
Form and Reform: the four great communicative shifts.
Thomas R Hofmann, Hokuriku University, Japan:
Foreign Learning of English.
Adam Brown, Language Studies Unit, Aston University:
English spelling and non-native speakers: the example of Singapore
David Stark, Cumbermauld, Scotland:
Maximizing the alphabetic efficiency of English orthography.
Ronald Threadgall, General Secretary, United Kingdom i.t.a. Federation:
The Initial Teaching Alphabet: proven efficiency and future prospects.
Patrick Hanks, Editor Collins English Dictionary, Collins Birmingham University International Language Database (COBUILD):
The hyphen in written English: conventionality and efficiency.
Frank Knowles, Professor of Language, Department of Modern Languages, Aston University:
Comparative efficiency of Slavonic orthographies and the lessons for English.
John Kerr, Dept. of Vision Sciences & Road Signal Perception Group, Aston University:
Experimental methodology for investigating reading efficiency.
Chris Jolly, Chairman, Simplified Spelling Society, & Marketing Consultant:
The marketability of spelling reform.
Julius Nyikos, Dept. of Languages, Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, Pennsylvania:
A sibilant extravaganza epitomizing our spelling non-system.
Edgar Gregersen, Dept. of Anthropology, Queens College of the City University of New York:
The strategy of spelling reform in stages: pros and cons.
Chris Upward, Editor Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, & Dept. of Modern Languages, Aston University:
Conflicting efficiency criteria in Cut Spelling.
Closing discussion: Where do we go from here?
End of Conference.

A Registration Form was included.