[Also on this page: Foto of SSS/ALC protesters. Reports from USA TODAY, Scripps Howard News Service, uther on-line newspapers, and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos in Hollywood News.
See Spelling Bee picket 2005.]

American Literacy Council and Simplified Spelling Society, May 29, 2004.
Press release.


Not all spellers heading for Washington, DC, for the National Spelling Bee on June 1-3 think English spelling is a good thing that should be celebrated.

While spectators and judges inside the Grand Hyatt Hotel will be pondering the spellings of obscure words, and admiring the efforts of contestants, outside on the street some members of the American Literacy Council (ALC) and the Simplified Spelling Society (SSS) will be trying to convince passers-by that English spelling is a problem that needs fixing.

Like those inside, they [may] admire the efforts of contestants, but they will have signs and sandwich boards with slogans such as "I'm thru with through" and "Enuf is enuf. Enough is too much". Their aim is to alert parents, educators, politicians, business people, and others concerned about the unacceptable level of illiteracy among English-speakers, to the fact that a prime cause for this is English spelling.

One of the picketers, ALC chair and SSS member, Alan Mole, from Boulder, Colorado, puts it this way: "Our odd spelling retains words like cough, bough, through and though. This increases illiteracy and crime. Fix it and you fix a host of problems. We want to fix it."

Organizer of the picket is Elizabeth Kuizenga (SSS), from San Francisco. She says there is evidence that English-speaking children around the world take much longer than speakers of other languages to learn to write, and they are distracted from writing creatively because of the constant attention they must give to spelling problems as they write.

"There is also empirical evidence that children's confidence in their sense of logic is seriously undermined by our illogical spellings, resulting in problems with mathematics skills as well," she says.

"Indeed, many children just give up on school altogether as a result. The prisons are full of people with literacy problems."

Theo Halladay (SSS) is an artist and teacher from Victoria, BC, Canada. She claims "our spelling puts an unfair burden on the many foreigners and aboriginals in Canada's population. We welcome them into our culture, then throw a written language at them that they can expect never to master. This is not only unnecessary, it's discriminatory, hypocritical and wasteful."

The group will be handing out pamflets and answering questions on each day of the Bee.

Websites: www.spellingsociety.org and www.americanliteracy.com


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USA TODAY web. 2 June 2004.

Spelling bee protesters: "Enuf is enuf!"

By Carl Weiser, Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON - Protesters delivered a message Wednesday to the national spelling bee: Enuf is enuf!

Seven members of the American Literacy Society picketed the 77th annual spelling bee, which is sponsored every year by Cincinnati-based Scripps Howard.

The protesters' complaint: English spelling is illogical. And the national spelling bee only reinforces the crazy spellings that lead to dyslexia, high illiteracy, and harder lives for immigrants.

"We advocate the modernization of English spelling," said Pete Boardman, 58, of Groton, N.Y. The Cornell University bus driver admitted to being a terrible speller.

Protester Elizabeth Kuizenga, 56, is such a good speller she teaches English as a second language in San Francisco. She said she got involved in the protest after seeing how much time was wasted teaching spelling in her class.

Bee spokesman Mark Kroeger said good spelling comes from knowing the story behind a word - what language it comes from, what it means. "For these kids who understand the root words, who understand the etymology, it's totally logical," he said.

The protesters contend that the illogical spelling of English words makes dyslexia more difficult to overcome and helps explain why one in five Americans are functionally illiterate.

"If these people were able to read and write with a simplified spelling system, they would be able to fill out a job application, stay employed, and stay out of prison," said Sanford Silverman, 86. The retired accountant from Cleveland was handing out copies of his book, "Spelling for the 21st Century: The case for spelling reform."

Carrying signs reading "I'm thru with through," "Spelling shuud be lojical," and "Spell different difrent," the protesters - who first protested two years ago, but skipped last year - drew chuckles from bee contestants.

"I can't believe people are picketing against something this ridiculous," said Steven Maheshwary, 14, of Houston, who successfully spelled "Zoroastrian" in the bee.

Or as 13-year-old contestant (tautologous) Rachel Karas of Flint, Mich., put it: "It's just spelling. You gotta learn it."

[Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, the National Spelling Bee sponsors and organizers, and quoted in part or hole by menny on-line newspapers.]

Bee protesters: Alfabetic system makes spelling werds eezy


Wy chanje English spelling?

Several men and women from across the country came to the 77th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee to demonstrate how much simpler they believe the English language should be.

Carrying signs such as "Enuf is Enuf" and "I'm thru with through," representatives from the American Literacy Council and the Simplified Spelling Society spent hours marching outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel as children inside correctly - or incorrectly - spelled such words as "triskaidekaphobia," "fougade" or "netiquette."

"There are over 40 million people who can't master spelling," said Pete Boardman, a protester from upstate New York. "We could simplify spelling by eliminating unnecessary letters."

Protester Timothy Travis, 61, of King George, Va., said, "Take words like 'red' and 'bed,' for example. They rhyme, so the word 'said' should be spelled 's-e-d.'"

The groups claim that 1 in 4 English-speaking children cannot read effectively by age 11, and even after years of school, barely half of all English speakers become confident spellers.

"Spelling, being obviously written and thus belonging to a different domain than spoken language, is slower to change than speech," wrote Patricia Moody, associate professor of English at Syracuse University, in response to an e-mail inquiry. "If you think that spelling doesn't change, look at a passage of Old English!"

She wrote that "historical reasons" account for many apparent inconsistencies in modern spelling.

But she added that making "wholesale" changes is "a different matter. Since spelling is conventional, asking a culture to make such wholesale changes voluntarily is a tall order!"

Margie Berns, a Purdue University professor of English, made the same points in a telephone interview. She said Germany has been trying to modernize some spellings. One prominent newspaper and one state have rejected the changes.

Both professors pointed out that words do change over time, a movement that may be enhanced by the Internet and e-mail. Berns said "nite" might replace "night" in all uses one day, for example.

"It's an interesting question whether you should plan the change, or whether the change will just happen," Berns said.

The nonprofit American Literacy Council offers literacy software and aids to assist those who have difficulty writing and reading, according to its Web site.

The Simplified Spelling Society's objective is to publicize the difficulties of the English language and to persuade people that changing how words are spelled would increase literacy, its Web site says.

"We think these kids are great, and we are very pleased with the goals they have accomplished," Boardman said about the bee participants. "But we just want to make people aware of another perspective on English spelling."

Quotes by members in uther on-line reports.

Palm Beach News.

"The bee glorifies the English spelling for its difficulty and applauds one child in a million who can master it," said Alan Mole, president of the American Literacy Council. "We want to make it simple and logical so everyone can master it easily and millions can learn to read."

Both the American Literacy Council and the Simplified Spelling Society picketed the competition, distributing brochures and a book called Spelling for the 21st Century.

Author Sanford Silverman said 20 percent of U.S. residents can't read English and argued that the United States needs a phonetic language such as some European countries have.

Fort Worth Star Telegram

"We are protesting English spelling, not the spellers," said Joe Little, managing director of the American Literacy Council, which promotes changing English spelling to make it closer to the way it sounds.

Hollywood News May 04, 2004.


REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS' mother has embarked on a crusade to simplify the more complicated spellings in the English language.

The stunning X-MEN star's linguist mother ELIZABETH KUIZENGA has joined forces with a group of colleagues to push for a huge change in the way words are spelt.

Romijn-Stamos says, "They do this for fun, but it's also their quest. They're part of a group called the SIMPLIFIED SPELLING SOCIETY and they're trying to update the spelling of the English language to make it easier for other people who are trying to learn how to spell or learn English.

"And also so kids don't have to learn all the stupid rules they have for spelling and all the exceptions to all the rules.

"So anyway, we have a great time talking about it and totally support her and agree with it, but we also make fun of her a lot of the time."

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