[Simplified Spelling Society Newsletter (Summer) 1986/2 p2. Later designated Journal 3]

Editorial.

Chris Upward.

THIS ISSUE.

This issue features John Wells' talk on the problems of divergent accents in English for a reformed orthography. It is profoundly important both tactically and strategically.

It is tactically important in that it points to specific phonemes which cannot be given a fully satisfactory spelling for all speakers of English alike, and where criteria other than straightforward phonographic correspondence may need to be applied. Two examples from Cut Spelling: the cut form thot for thought seems weird to most RP-speakers, yet considering the major accents in which thought roughly rhymes with hot, it may indeed be the most generally acceptable form. Then, RP suggests your be cut to yor, but Americans object that yur better represents the sound; the word-sign abbreviation yr therefore appears a good compromise.

The strategic importance of John Wells' article is that it highlights the question of whether alternative spellings are desirable for divergent accents. There are powerful objections to any trend towards diversity in written English. If a reformed orthography is proposed for one accent only (cf. p. 15-16, AMERICAN), then we are on the slippery slope towards undermining the role of English as a world language - ultimately it might even fragment into mutually unintelligible separate languages. Not merely might the British, for instance, find it as difficult to read American publications as, say, the written form of Scots, but non-English speakers would have to learn more than one form of English in order to communicate internationally. Spelling reformers have a responsibility not only to the schoolchildren of their own country, but to the international, adult community as well.

Interestingly, David Stark's article ('Standardised Spelling-Pronunciation', p.27-28) suggests how such a single reformed world orthography could nevertheless be used far more effectively than t.o. in teaching children.

LITERATURE REVIEWERS SOUGHT.

The Society needs to maintain and develop links with workers in related fields. One task for the Newsletter should be to report on relevant publications, for which purpose reviewers and abstractors of current literature are sought. Some works that could be valuably surveyed for the Society are: Michael Stubbs Language and Literacy, Andrew Ellis Reading, Writing and Dyslexia, Margaret Peters Spelling Caught or Taught (1985 edition), Geoffrey Sampson Writing Systems. Readers who would like to undertake such work should contact the editor.

OBITUARIES.

Readers will be aware of the death a year ago of the Society's fourth President, Sir James Pitman. [See Journal, Anthology & SPB articles] His contribution to the Society is outlined in Maurice Harrison's history of the Society (p.22-25), but we may note he was elected to the committee in 1936 and became President in 1968, to be succeeded in the early 1970's by our present President, Professor John Downing. [See Journal, Anthology & SPB articles.] A quite lengthy obituary was published in The Times on 3 September 1985, highlighting his development of i.t.a., but not mentioning its indebtedness to New Spelling.

We sadly have to report the death at 74 of George O'Halloran. [See Newsletter, SPB articles.] The Daily Telegraph carried an obituary on 5 August 1986, referring to his educational work in the Gambia and for the Initial Teaching Alphabet Foundation, whose general secretary he was from 1967 to 1972. Within the Society he will be remembered for his tremendous drive in the service of spelling reform. He was secretary in the mid-1970s, then chairman, and was responsible for the Society's 1975 constitution and new financial regulations. He produced Teach Yourself i.t.a. and edited a series of News Sheets for the Society, of which he recently sent the Editor No.5 (January 1976), along with No.1 of his Reading & Spelling magazine, and Books 1 and 8 of his i.t.a. speech reeders series. Do any readers have any others of his publications?

DATA PROTECTION ACT EXEMPTION.

Readers receiving the Newsletter through the mail may be aware that the address-labels are computer-printed, which means the names and addresses are stored as data. Such data is subject to the new Data Protection Act and normally has to be registered (for which a fee is then payable). Societies like the SSS can claim exemption however, provided they only use the addresses for circulation purposes and give recipients the opportunity to object to their details being so recorded. Any readers unhappy at being mechanically addressed are therefore hereby invited to object, so that in future their envelopes can, at some extra trouble, be addressed by hand instead.

NEXT ISSUE.

Among items planned for the autumn issue of the Newsletter is a feature on Dr David Brazil's address to the Society on dictionary transcription of pronunciation and its implications for spelling. It is also hoped that the next issue can include a comprehensive, analytical catalogue of English homophones.



Simplified Spelling Society Fifth International Conference.

Spelling for Efficiency.

First Announcement and Call for Papers.

VENUE: Aston University, Birmingham: James Gracie Conference Centre, Birmingham.
DATES: Friday - Sunday 24 - 26 July 1987
PROVISIONAL COST: £60
ORGANIZERS: Chris Upward, Chris Jolly
ENQUIRIES TO: Chris Upward.

BACKGROUND

It was long assumed that English spelling reform simply meant writing words as they were spoken. But the obstacles to this apparently straightforward procedure are now clear: above all the lack of a standard pronunciation and the need to ensure continuity of literacy.

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

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

The conference therefore seeks contributions to the development of such an orthography from many sources, from linguists and psychologists, from educationists and typographers, from theorists and practitioners. Its starting point will be the findings of the Simplified Spelling Society's working party which since 1984 has been updating the Society's New Spelling, revised by Daniel Jones and Harold Orton in 1948. The working party's report will be made available before the conference.




Provisional application

Simplified Spelling Society Fifth International Conference

Spelling for Efficiency.

24 - 26 July 1987. Aston University, Birmingham

I am interested in attending the conference. Please send me further details as they become available.

Name & Title
.................................................
Address & Institution
.................................................................................... ................
............................................................................Tel..... ..............

(Complete if appropriate)

I intend to offer a paper entitled
.................................................................................... ..............

and will submit an abstract by 1.3.1987.

I shall probably require accommodation: YES/NO

It is hoped the 1987 conference will give fresh impetus to the pressure for the modernization of written English. The demands on written English are now greater than ever: for individuals to achieve maximum personal effectiveness, for societies to achieve maximum literacy, for the world to master its most truly international language. In many ways English is well-suited to meet these demands, yet its spelling remains a major, though remediable, defect. It is time to turn our attention to ways of improving it in the light of present knowledge and circumstances.

Please also send details of the conference to:

Name & Title

.................................................
Address & Institution

.................................................
.................................................
.................................................

Detach and return to Chris Upward.