(Simplified Spelling Society Pamphlet No. 12.)
[See Journal and Newsletter articles by Laurie Fennelly.
Part 2 of this article is on another page.]

New Spelling 90.

Edited by L R Fennelly.

Contents.

Preface.
1. The need for reform,
2. The Problem.
3. The mat-mate System.
4. The reform of vowels.
4.1 mat - mate.
4.2 a e i o u.
4.3 oo au ou oy er'.
4.4 The Obscure vowel.
5. Reform of consonants.
5.1 Unchanged.
5.2 c k ck qu x.
5.3 s z sh ch.
5.4 f g j ng w wh y.
6. Two objections [on another page.]
6.1 Identical spellings.
6.2 Historical Spellings and Etymology.
7. The Implementation of reform.
Appendix - The Star.
New Spelling 90 in Brief.

Preface.

The Simplified Spelling Society, founded in 1908, published the 6th edition of its book New Spelling in 1948. It was prepared by two of the leading figures in language studies at that time, Professors Daniel Jones and Harold Orton. It set out a complete scheme of spelling reform that was supported by a statistical analysis of current spellings. It remains the major work on the subject world-wide, and the Society hopes to reissue it in a new updated version.

In the meantime this booklet, designed for the general public rather than for language specialists, sets out some new proposals, These are firmly based on those in the original book, but some important changes have been made in the light of comment over the years.

Our Aim has been to set out a complete, coherent spelling system, that can provide a starting point for useful discussion. For this reason, and also for reasons of space, we have not attempted to discuss alternative forms, nor have we dealt with the anomalies that must occur in a language so diverse as English.

At this stage also we do not discuss the spelling of those foreign words that have come into the language recently. Some have been fully anglicized, some not. Consider entente, garage, pizza, allegro. When such words should be respelt is a matter for judgment in each individual case. We cannot delay reform while such relatively minor points are being settled.

It should be noted that we do not propose any changes in proper names, although of course people would be free to change the spelling of their own personal names.

1. The Need for Reform.

English is unique in being basically a mixture of two languages - German, as spoken by the Anglo-Saxons, and French, as spoken by the Normans, the mixing process starting in 1066. This may be a source of pride to the English, and it has certainly had beneficial effects on the vocabulary and the structure of the language, but has been a major cause of the extreme complexity, not to say confusion, of English spelling. Put simply, English spelling is so irregular and so unpredictable that native learners are obliged to learn almost every word individually - not always with conspicuous success. As a result, spelling can constitute an actual barrier to learning. Time has to be devoted to it that could be used for better things, and it makes it far harder for the normal pupil in school to get that sense of achievement without which there is little effective learning.

Take as an example the set of words - bun, mother, one, wonder, thunder. Clearly they should all be spelt with a u - bun, muther, wun, wunder, thunder. No doubt the readers of this pamphlet have mastered these words, but imagine the problems that face the teacher trying to explain to a five-year old just why bun and mother are spelt the way they are. In fact the teacher is reduced to telling the child that mother is spelt that way because it is.

Another set of words is even more extraordinary - though, bough, bought, caught, through, thorough, cough, rough, eight, night, knight. There is an explanation for these spellings, but to find it one must go back to the history of Anglo-Saxon and Germanic Languages. Why should such spellings be preserved for everyday use in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? Ironically, modern German itself has a very logical spelling system, and we can see what an advantage this gives to the Germans, if we compare the German and English words for the number 8. (They are identical in origin.) In German ch is pronounced as in the Scottish loch, and so the word acht represents the current pronunciation. Whereas the English word eight has only one letter out of the five (the t) which has its normal value.

Apart from its effect on native speakers, the sheer inefficiency of the system is particularly unfortunate, because English has become the main international language. Its rich vocabulary and its relatively simple and flexible grammar make it well adapted for such a role; its only handicap is its spelling.

2. The Problem.

The English alphabet of 26 letters is divided into vowels (a e i o u) and consonants (all the rest of the letters). Note that y is sometimes a vowel as in pity, and sometimes a consonant as in young. Unfortunately there are far more sounds in English than can be covered by such letters, and particularly is this the case with vowels. As a result, the existing letters have, most of them, to do a duty for more than one sound, sometimes by themselves, sometimes in combination with other letters, a in the following series is a typical example - fat, fate, call, father, gaiter, soap.

Another complication is that there is no one standard English pronunciation. The vowels especially have different values all over Britain, let alone over the North American continent and Australia and New Zealand. Among the consonants, too, r has very important functions. In words like cart, finger it is not pronounced in the South of England, but it is pronounced elsewhere, although not in the same way, as is shown by the difference in Scottish and American r's.

It is for this reason that we are not trying to devise a so-called phonetic alphabet. Such an alphabet already exists, and it is designed to denote accurately all the sounds that can be made in speech in all languages. Parts of it are used nowadays to show pronunciation in dictionaries, and a glance at the key provided in the dictionaries will show just how unsuitable such an alphabet would be for ordinary use. Nor would it even be desirable. To take an example, there are numerous variations in the way the vowel a is pronounced in the word cat, but so long as everybody who says cat thinks he is saying an a, the variations in the vowel sound produced are quite immaterial.

Inventing fresh letters has been suggested, notably by George Bernard Shaw, but it would create many practical difficulties, and so has been generally rejected.

We are left, therefore with the task of devising a scheme, using only the existing alphabet, that is consistent rather than phonetic. So that all speakers no matter what their private pronunciation may be, can work out the spelling of a word from its pronunciation. Fortunately this can be done, using, strange as it may seem, only 24 or 25 of the available letters.

3. The "mat - mate" System

The problem of shortage of letters is worst with the vowels, and English has evolved a complicated - and inefficient - way of dealing with it. Take the letter a. In the word mat it has one sound. By adding an e (or another vowel) after the consonant that follows the a, it becomes another sound, as in mate. mating. This applies to all five vowels e.g. din. dining - hop. hoping.

So we have a remarkable system in which one vowel is modified by another one, separated from it. But this is not all. If we want to stop the process, we do so by doubling the intervening consonant, e.g. din. dine. diner. dinner. - hop. hope. hoping. hopping. And then to crown it, the system is not consistently applied. Look at the series liver. diver - hover. rover. (Interestingly, whoever invented bovver boots some years ago, instinctively reverted to the general rule.)

Most people apply the system without being consciously aware of it, but many mistakes are made, and in fact it is at the very heart of the spelling problems of the English Language.

4. The Reform of the Vowels.

Note: Before discussing changes there is one point to clarify. When we recite the alphabet, we recite the names of the letters, not the sounds that they represent in words. As an example, kay is the name of the letter, not its sound. However, the vowels a e i o u do keep their name value in some words in current spelling, but it is only one value, and by no means the commonest.

4.1. mat-mate.

Our first task is to deal with the "mat - mate" problem. This we do by establishing a rule:-
In words like mate, move the final e to the other side of the consonant, and join it to the vowel so that a e o u become ae ee oe ue. (see below for i).
These combinations then become the new symbols for these sounds, and are used permanently, regardless of what else follows in the word. So we have the series mat. maet. maeting - hop. hoep. hoeping. And as a further result, we no longer need to use the double consonants in matting and hopping, because plain a or o can only have the sound they have in mat and hop respectively. So we arrive at the new pairs maeting. mating - hoeping. hoping. Set out thus, this may seem confusing, but used in a context, these words present no problem.

In the case of i we could have followed the same rule and made it ie but we have chosen a simpler alternative. Use y everywhere for the sound of by. tie, and use i everywhere for the sound of bit. As a result we have byt for bite, and piti for pity. This has considerable advantages over using ie. (Compare flying and flieing.)

These changes at a stroke, enable us to get rid of all the double consonants in the language, with the possible exception of those few cases where the double consonant actually represents two sounds as in thinness or unnecessary.

Having established the general principle, we can now, in the following sections, treat the various uses of the vowels systematically.

4.2. a e i o u.

a. a as in mat stays the same.

a as in mate becomes ae, which gives maet. All other spellings for this sound will be replaced by ae. e.g. say: sae, maid: maed. (Note that said becomes sed. See below) In front of an r the vowel is slightly different, but it is normally treated as being the same, so that for example pair: fare become paer: faer. Note the difference between pair and payer which become respectively paer and paeer. The reason for this is that it is important to preserve the ending -er, when it has a specific meaning, in this case that of the "agent".

a as in path remains unchanged. New Spelling, on balance, recommended aa for this sound, to distinguish it from the a in pat , but we have abandoned this distinction, because so many people in Britain and America make no difference between the two sounds. Nor does the use of a single a for both sounds in current spelling seem to cause any problems for those that make the difference in speech. However there are a few pairs of words whose identical spelling might shock, and we propose an aa as an alternative spelling in the following cases:- have: hav - halve: haav ant: ant - aunt: aant, cam: kam - calm: kaam, psalm: saam, palm: paam.

e. e as in set remains unchanged. All other current spellings for this sound become e as well. e.g. friend: frend, said: sed, head: hed, heifer: hefer, bury: beri, any: eni, many: meni.

e as in scheme becomes ee, which is already in many cases. Other spellings are read: reed, police: polees, receive: receev, chief: cheef. read and reed both become reed, but on this point see Chapter Six. One syllable words in e become ee, except for the be he she me we, which are left as special cases or "word signs" because they occur so frequently. re- as a prefix remains with one e only, whether it is an active prefix, as in re-state or purely a Latin one as in refuse. The pronunciation of re- in this position usually varies, so it is convenient to make a simple rule.

i. i as in pit says the same.
y is currently used for this sound at the end of words, but this will be replaced by i. e.g. piti, frili.

Note. In the USA and elsewhere the sound of the final y is not the same as the first i sound, but this does not seem sufficient reason for retaining y at the end of words. The actual difference in sound is not great, it has no significance in meaning, and probably most Americans are not conscious of the difference. The y is never used to represent the sound elsewhere, and, a final point, in derivatives the y reverts to i. e.g. pitiless.

i as in bite becomes y to give byt. buy also becomes by. (See Chapter Six on identical spellings). Note that fire becomes fyr, but buyer becomes byer, because in the latter case the -er has a significance for meaning. (See Obscure Vowel)

o. o as in cot remains unchanged. It also replaces the a in 60 words like was: woz, want: wont, swan: swon.

o as in rope becomes oe, which gives roep. oe also replaces ow in words like low: loe, sow: soe. sew too becomes soe. Note that poet becomes poeet. so would remain so, being treated as a word sign, because of its frequency. Purely Italian words like allegro would be left unchanged.

u. u as in cut remains unchanged. (see oo for put)
It also replaces o in some 50 words like mother, and oo in blood, flood.

u as in cute becomes ue, which gives us kuet. It also replaces ew as in few: fue, new: nue. Note that suit becomes suet and suet becomes sueet.

Note. The system just set out, leads to an increase in the number of words that have treble vowels, as in the current spelling seeing, or the New Spelling loeer and saeing. It would be possible to to reduce the number of words that have treble vowels, by formulating a rule that the e of ae ee oe ue should be dropped in front of another vowel. This would however create some anomalies, and on balance we prefer the logic of the system we have described.

4.3. oo au ou oy er.

oo. oo will continue to represent the two sounds found in good and food. uu was proposed as an additional symbol to represent one of them so that we would have either good fuud or guud food. However, Scottish speakers make no difference between the two sounds, and we therefore think it unnecessary to use two symbols, especially as there is no evidences that the present arrangement causes learning or spelling difficulties. oo would also replace u in put: poot and ou as in could: kood. There would be difficulty with two pairs of words pull, pool and full, fool. We propose that pull and full be treated as special cases and spelt pul and ful respectively. This is especially important at the end of ful, because it is so often used at the end of words. e.g. hopeful: hoepful. to ought to become too, but it occurs so often, it is convenient to leave it unchanged as a word sign. Note that two and too both become too.

au. au as in taut remains unchanged. It also replaces aw as in law:lau. The au spelling is the commoner in current English, but aw is used in all single syllable words of the type of law, that is to say those that do not have a consonant at the end. In consequence the sound aw is identified with the sound in the public mind. Nonetheless we have decided on balance to adopt au but there would be no problem if it was desired to use aw instead.

Note this sound would NOT be used for the sound that occurs in words like short which have an r. In Southern English this r has disappeared from the pronunciation, changing the o sound into au in the process. But this has not happened elsewhere in Britain or in America, where r is still pronounced. It must therefore always be retained in spelling.

ou. ou as in count remains unchanged. It also replaces ow in now: nou. Exactly the same considerations apply as with au and aw, and ow could be used instead of ou. An additional reason for choosing ou is that ow has two values in current English. (cf. how, low) which could cause confusion during a transition period.

oy. oy as in boy is replaced by oi always e.g. oil, oister

er. er as in merchant remains unchanged. This spelling er is associated with this sound in the public mind, but there are two other spellings that occur when the sound is stressed, ur (further) and ir (fir). We recommend that both these spellings be replaced by er. However there are a few cases where confusion would be caused, and for these we would keep ur. Examples are words in -cur like concur, recur, and fur and astir. For er unstressed, see the section on the obscure vowel.

4.4. The Obscure Vowel.

In English, when there is more than one syllable in a word, one syllable carries a main stress or emphasis, and sometimes, if the word is long enough, another carries a secondary stress. Examples are háting and pérforátion. But then the remaining vowels, by a sort of law of laziness, lose their full value, and become reduced to the sound we find in the last syllables of carrot, nation, total, and the a we have in a cat. It is the sound you make when you open your mouth without making any effort. It should be emphasised that this is not a case of "bad English". It is an essential part of the English language, and we all of us use this sound all the time. It is by far the commonest sound in the language. But it causes great problems for spelling. Dictionaries have to use special symbols to represent it, and it is the cause of many spelling mistakes of the type a for e in the last syllable of independent.

Furthermore, the sound varies. Sometimes it is more like a very short i than a short e. cf. profit, prophet, hatchet. Then again, the sound can change, depending on how slowly or precisely one is speaking. In the word success the u might be the same as in suck, but usually it is this reduced sound.

This vowel is commonly called the "obscure vowel", and very often it is spelt with an e, but if we used e for it everywhere, it would cause enormous problems. We therefore make the following limited proposals.

Firstly we make three restrictions.

1. We only make changes where the vowel occurs in the final syllable of the basic word. (silent is the basic word for silently and colour for colouring.) We do not alter the obscure vowel when it occurs elsewhere in a word. We would not therefore concern ourselves with the u in success or the o's in photography. Similarly, the endings -ary and -ory remain unchanged. e.g. sekretari, dormitori. To try to change all the obscure vowels in the language is simply not practicable.

2. If the letter i occurs in this situation in a current spelling it is never changed. So prophet and profit become respectively profet and profit. The only exception is the ending -ible, for which see below. This simple rule obviates the necessity for establishing the precise sound value of each and every obscure vowel.

3. The letter r is maintained wherever it occurs in current spelling. It is never dropped, except of course that double r is always reduced to single r. (See below on the letter r.)

The changes we propose are therefore as follows:

1. an en on ain all become en. In addition ant becomes ent and ance becomes ens. e.g. observance: observens. One objection to this is that some words in -an have a derivative in which the obscure vowel recovers its full value. e.g. organ: organic. However there are not many of these, and the derivatives in question are usually quite learned words, and so we do not think there is any need to abandon our proposed rule.

-man. This ending is reduced to the obscure vowel in words like Frenchman, boatman, but we keep the spelling man in order to preserve the distinction between -man and -men. Similarly with the word woman.

2. -le -el -al -ol

(i) -le able, couple, rattle, apple.
We recommend that the final silent e be dropped, so that the above words would become aebl, kupl, ratl, apl. It will be seen that in this situation the l by itself has the value of "obscure vowel + l".

(ii) -el. chapel and apple are identical in pronunciation except for the initial ch. Similarly with label and able. We therefore recommend that -el when it follows a consonant is reduced to l. e.g. chapl, laebl. After a vowel, -el is always unchanged. e.g. fuel: fueel.

(iii) -al -ol. These endings have the same sound as -el. e.g. legal, symbol. However many words with these endings have derivatives in which the vowel recovers its full value. e.g. legality, symbolic. There are many more of these words, and they are more important than is the case with an referred to above. Therefore on balance we have decided that -al and -ol should be left unchanged.

(iv) Words like hostile and fertile are pronounced with a clear difference of stress in England and America. It is therefore necessary to have alternative spellings - hostyl. hostl, fertyl. fertl. (We should not be frightened to make use of alternative spellings, when there is a need. They already exist, of course in current English).

3. -able, -ible, as word endings, both become -abl. e.g. detestabl, responsabl. This simple rule will save many spelling errors.

4. -er -ar -or -our -ure all become -er. colour thus becomes kuler. nature gives naecher, but mature of course would become matuer.

Note: hire and higher are identical in pronunciation in current speech. hire becomes hyr, as it would be pointless to inset an e before the r in words of this type. But what should we then do with higher? We settle for hyer because of our rule that the ending -er, meaning "more" must always be preserved. In this case grammatical consistency must take precedence over phonetic exactitude. This likewise applies to -er as the "agent". cf. tire: tyr and tryer: tryer.

5. -ous becomes -us. e.g. marvelus.

6. -ward, toward, forward, upward, skyward.
toward becomes toword (cf. ward: word, word: werd) In all the other words a represents the obscure vowel, so we recommend that it becomes e. e.g. forwerd, skywerd.

5. The Reform of the Consonants.

Consonants are in some ways more important for reading than vowels. There are more of them, and they catch the eye more than do the vowels, which is why changes in consonants can seem disconcerting. Yet changes are needed. There are consonants like the g in campaign and the w in wriggle, which no longer have any significance, and are just relics from a distant past. There are also unnecessary double letters like those in accommodate, which reflect a Latin origin, and there are consonants which perform a role which they were not intended to have, like the gh in night and the l in calm.

Our aims are:
1. To get rid of all unnecessary consonants.
2. To reduce all double consonants to single consonants, unless they represent a significant lengthening of the consonant as in unnecessary but this is quite rare.
3. To systematise the use of the remaining consonants,
Voiced and Voiceless consonants. Before considering our proposed changes in detail, it is helpful to understand one of the ways in which consonants are classified. Take b and p for example. They are produced by the organs of the mouth in exactly the same way, except for one thing. When the sound of b is made, the vocal chords come into play, whereas they don't for p. Consequently, the b is more resonant then p, which is the sole difference between the two. Other consonants can be paired in the same way - d:t, z:s, g:k, v:f. In each pair, the first one, the more resonant consonant is called "voiced" and the second one "voiceless". The difference is crucial in some words, and of no importance in others, The sole difference between phase and face, when spoken is that the s of phase is voiced. But in cats and dogs, where the s in cats is voiceless and the s in dogs is voiced, the difference does not matter.

5.1. Unchanged.

b l m n p v are quite unchanged.

d t are only changed to the extent that the verbal ending -ed becomes -t in words like kissed: kist.

r is not changed, but it needs attention. We formulate a rule that r is retained wherever it occurs in current spelling, except of course that rr is reduced to single r. This rule is needed because in the standard Southern English, r is no longer pronounced at the end of words, and in front of consonants. e.g. painter, court, part. But it is still pronounced elsewhere in England, in Scotland and in America, even though it is pronounced in different ways. It is therefore essential to retain it in spelling. (it may be noted that those who do not pronounce the r, mostly think they do. The situation is complicated because r's come and go in this form of pronunciation. (cf. water - watering.)

th. th we have decided to leave unchanged.
In the current spelling it represents two sounds, the voiced sound in then and the voiceless in thin. The voiced sound could be represented by dh, which would be useful to foreign learners, but not to native learners, who are mostly unaware of the difference. The voiced sound dh is actually by far the commoner of the two, so logically, if we are going to adopt only one symbol for the two sounds, we ought to adopt dh. We are keeping the th for no other reason than to reduce the number of changes we have to make.

5.2. c k ck qu x.

c. c is replaced by either s as in advice: advys, or by k as in cat: kat. It therefore becomes a redundant letter available for other use. (Suggestions are instead of ch or sh.) It would be possible to reverse things, and keep the c for cat, and dispense with the letter k instead. The choice would be between for example kik and cic, bak and bac,keep and ceep. Using c would involve fewer changes, especially in initial letters, but we have chosen k because it is the clearer symbol visually (c resembles e and o), and because it is internationally identified with the sound.

ck. ck is replaced by a simple k. e.g. kick: kik.

qu. qu becomes kw and q becomes a redundant letter. e.g. quick: kwik.

x. x is replaced by ks, and thus becomes a redundant letter, except for its use as a mathematical symbol, and in the word x-ray. In words like example the sounds are actually voiced, so that one ought to write egzampl, but we recommend using ks for these words as well. Most people are quite unaware that x can have these two values, and in any case the difference is never critical for meaning.

k. To sum up, k has kept its present sound value, but has become a much more important consonant, through acquiring additional uses.

5.3. s z sh ch.

s z. z is the voiced version of s. Compare sit and horizon. But s is regularly used in place of z in many words. e.g. visit, nose, these. In words like advertise, z is used in America for the ending, and can be used in Britain even now. Contrast these words, however, with cease, grease, this. Our first step therefore is to replace s by z wherever it is necessary. e.g. nose: noez, visit: vizit. Note that his becomes hiz, and hiss becomes his. Next -ce can be replaced by -s as in rice: rys. (But see below)

s has one use which is of absolutely capital importance, and which requires special consideration. It is used in what are called "inflected endings", that is it is added to the end of words to signify:
i. plural of nouns. e.g. cats
ii. possession. e.g. cat's, cats'.
iii. the person of a verb e.g. he likes: I like.
We will confine our discussion to the plurals, but whatever applies to them applies to the other categories as well.

The sound represented by s at the end of a word is in reality more often than not a z. e.g. dogz, binz. So it was suggested in the original New Spelling that we should use both s and z strictly according to the pronunciation. Compare hats and ladz. We had rejected this for two reasons. Firstly, we doubt very much whether most people hear this difference, and to make it more difficult, the difference varies from word to word. Secondly, and this is the decisive factor, we think grammatical uniformity must take precedence over phonetic exactitude.

Accordingly, we decide to use the one letter, either s or z, for all inflected forms, but before making the choice, we must look at words that end in -ce, or less often in -se. Most present no problem, and for example, nice and grease become in New Spelling nys and grees. But an important group of these words can be paired off with nouns in the plural, or in one or two cases, verbs e.g. fence: fens, dense: dens, peace: peas, cease: sees. Clearly one cannot use s for all these words, but if one chose z for the inflected forms, then one could use s for the -ce and voiceless -se. The system would be clear, without anomalies. But against this, z is generally felt to be a more awkward letter than s, especially in handwriting. To change all the vast number of inflected endings from s to z, would, we fear, be so disconcerting to the public, that it would arouse too much resistance to any project for reform.

We therefore recommend -s for all inflected endings, as at present, and ss for words in -ce and -se. e.g. fence: fens become fenss: fens, pronounce: pronouns become pronounss: pronouns andcease: sees become seess: sees.

Another problem pair is that of princes: princess. We suggest that -ess be retained as a special feminine ending, in which case the two words will become prinses: prinsess

Note. one . once. one's become wun . wuns . wun's. If it was desired not to use apostrophes, then one's would have to become wunz.

sh. sh remains as in ship but it also replaces a whole set of combinations, where the letters t. c. s combine with following e or i. e.g. nation: naeshen, special: speshal, ocean: oeshen, diversion: dyvershen, precious: preshus. This sort of spelling is sometimes used to represent uneducated speech, but there is no other way of pronouncing these words. The basic linguistic fact is that English people, when confronted by the sound combination "s + consonantal y" preceding a vowel pronounce it as sh. (Compare the French and English pronunciation of the word nation.)

Words like issue come into this category, because the u is really yoo. There is hesitancy over whether one should say sh or sy, the latter being regarded as more correct. Actually, most people tend to say sh, certainly when they are not thinking about it. However, we recommend keeping the current spelling, because there is so much fluctuation in usage.

Parallel to this is the use of ch in words like nature: naecher, where this is the established pronunciation. We do not dare to suggest choon for tune or jook for duke.

zh. sh is a voiceless consonant, and its voiced equivalent is the sound we have in vision or the je sound in French. There is no symbol for it in current English, and so we recommend zh e.g. vision: vizhen, measure: mezher, usual: uezhueal.

ch. ch remains as in church, but it also replaces tch as in hatch: hach.

5.4. f g j ng w wh y.

f. f remains as in if, but it also replaces ph as in telephone: telefoen. Note that off becomes of and of becomes ov.

g. g keeps only the sound it has in the word got.

j. j keeps the sound it has in jet, but also takes over the sound of g in age: aej, and of dg in bridge: brij.

ng. ng keeps the sound it has in sing . singer. Strictly speaking, finger should become fingger, but we see no advantage in this because the pronunciation of this sound varies according to the dialect, and the current spelling causes no learning problems anywhere. It must be admitted that the spelling ngg would be useful for foreign learners.

w. w remains as in win, but it also replaces u in anguish, and as stated above, the u in qu.

wh. In most of England, wh is pronounced simply as a w, but there are areas where it is differentiated, notably in Scotland and parts of America. Its use is probably declining, being preserved to some extent by the efforts of the schools. We recommend w, leaving wh as an available alternative for those who pronounce it that way.

y. Although we have used y as a vowel, we have retained it as an initial consonant in words like yet, year, young, youth. This dual use is not ideal, but y's usefulness as a vowel outweighs the disadvantages. Of the words beginning with y, you, and youth could be spelt ue and ueth respectively. However, we prefer yoo and yooth to maintain the connections with your and young.

The names for i and y.
Our use of y as the vowel in bite: byt creates a problem. We can hardly coin fresh names, so we suggest that y keeps its present name, and that i is called "short i".

Back to the top.
Forward to Part 2.