THE PIONEER OF SIMPLIFIED SPELLING.
VOL. VI, No. 4. FEBRUARY 1918. Prys 2d.
[The Pioneer was published in A5 size paper, pp49-72 with additional text on the colored cover pages. SSS membership was 2972. Cost is the reason given for this being the last issue of the Pioneer, tho it was revived later. The school experiments sound as successful as i.t.a. was later.]
PUBLISHED BY THE SIMPLIFIED SPELLING SOCIETY, London.
The trade supplied by SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT, & CO., London.
THE prolonged crisis through which we are passing has affected the movement for
spelling reform like everything else; but on the whole we may be well
satisfied with the progress of the Simplified Spelling Society in these momentous
years. Although the press has been able to give us less space than formerly, it has
adopted towards us a more sympathetic attitude, and, although the minds of men have
been stirred and disturbed as never before, there has been no decline in the
interest aroused by our activities.
The time is favourable to a broad and unbiassed consideration of proposals for educational reform, and a reform which, like the one we advocate, promises to secure efficiency and economy is bound to appeal to all who give thought to the problems of reconstruction. The supreme Education Authorities in England and Scotland have sanctioned experiments with Simplified Spelling. We look forward with confidence to the results, as we may well do in view of what has been achieved in the first experiments, of which some record is presented in what for the present must be the last issue of THE PIONEER. That the publication of THE PIONEER should be suspended was decided by the Committee of the Simplified Spelling Society after long and careful deliberation. The cost of production has become very heavy, while our income has not increased.
It is not for us to sing the praises of THE PIONEER and of what it has achieved in the six years of its existence. Of its shortcomings we are no less painfully aware than any hostile critic. We trust that we have endured castigation with becoming humility. For the encouragement and help that we have received we offer our warm thanks. Future letters that may be addressed to the Editor will receive full consideration from the Committee. We trust that the suspension of THE PIONEER will not preclude us from having the advantage of helpful criticism and suggestion.
It is our intention to keep up the interest of our members by sending them occasional bulletins and pamphlets, and we earnestly trust that they will continue support of us to the best of their ability in the arduous work of propaganda. We believe that the account of our Annual Meeting which follows will be found an effective means of showing what the Simplified Spelling Society stands for, and, in the order to secure for it an extensive circulation, even among the unconverted, we have decided to print this last number of THE PIONEER in the bad old spelling. The end must justify the means.
Never were our prospects brighter; it rests with our members to make sure that there is no slackening of effort, and that we may ere long see the children benefiting by our work and a year of their precious school life saved, reason taking the place of unreason, and good speech being well taught. And, though it is, first and foremost, the education of our own children that we have in mind, let us always remember that a reasonably consistent spelling would, to our great gain, lead to the rapid spread of our language and literature throughout the Empire, throughout the world.
THE ANNUAL MEETING.THE Annual Meeting of the Simplified Spelling Society was held on Thursday, January 3, 1918, at University College, Gower Street, London, W.C., Dr. R. W. MACAN. D.Lit., Litt.D., Master of University College, Oxford, presiding. In opening the proceedings,
The CHAIRMAN said: Ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry that I am not Prof. Gilbert Murray; I am only the emergency man whom Prof. Ripman has called upon, and on the shortest possible notice, to take the place of Prof. Murray, who, I am sorry to say, is unwell, and is therefore unable to be with us tonight. Oddly enough, I have just come from a communion with Prof. Murray, for I have been reading his very striking paper in the current number of the "Hibbert Journal" upon the soul, and what it is. I was going to say that it has not much to do with spelling reform. Perhaps it has, though, at any rate, he does not deal with Simplified Spelling in that article. But, of course, we know that he is soul and heart with us in this matter. If he is not here in the body - which he says in the course of that article, quoting Plato, is only a corpse, the soul dragging the corpse about - we are quite sure that he is with us in the soul. I must say that I think it is no bad omen of the cause that we all have at heart that Prof. Murray now, having no great call upon his services in Oxford - a benighted spot at the present time, from which I also have the good fortune to hail - is devoting now his great intelligence and great energies to educational matters, and has even got, I believe, a temporary berth in the Education Office. I am sure that the cause of spelling reform has nothing to lose from that association. Well, now, it was only after I entered the room this evening that I knew I should be called upon to discharge this little formal duty of taking the chair, and I am not going to inflict a long speech upon you. It is only my pleasant duty to introduce to you those gentlemen who are going to occupy our time, I am sure most profitably and advantageously, this evening. We have Mr. Henry Drummond, who has come all the way from Durham; Mr. Robert Jackson, who hails from Dundee; and Mr. Ezra Sykes, who is Head Master of the York Road Council School, Leeds. I have only just made the personal acquaintance of these three gentlemen, though their names were not unfamiliar to me previously as associated with the good cause which we are all here to-night to support. I shall, therefore, not take up time by enlarging upon their services to our cause, but I will ask them at once to proceed without further introduction. I have only to interpolate Prof. Ripman, who has some points of pure business - what, I think, is sometimes called private business - to lay before the meeting.
PROGRESS DURING THE PAST YEAR.Prof. RIPMAN: I should like to make a few remarks as to the work of the past year, and on some matters that may interest you as members; I take it that many of you are members, and the others are prospective members. We welcome two new Vice-Presidents: Sir Robert Baden-Powell and Mr. G. A. Christian, B.A., Vice-President of the Battersea and Wandsworth Educational Council, well known in educational circles. [See lists of Officers and Committee members.] In spite of the War, there has been some increase in membership, and certainly no decrease in the interest shown, if we may judge by the correspondence which reaches our office. Miss Montagu, who has recently been advanced to the post of full Secretary after giving us six years of loyal and very able service, has been busy distributing literature and sending out circulars. The members of Parliament have all been circularized twice during the year, and each should have received, and then should have digested, Breaking the Spell. [See preface to the 1917 edition and 1942 edition pdf file 187kb.] During the year we have published the Sekond Reeder in Simplified Spelling; we have reprinted Breaking the Spell, that is the old volume formerly called Simplified Spelling: an Appeal to Common Sense. It still remains an appeal to common sense, which explains its limited circulation. The Star has been reprinted, and the Ferst Reeder, and THE PIONEER has got near to the end of Volume VI. I am sorry to say that we must suspend the publication of THE PIONEER, since the cost of production has doubled; but we hope to send out bulletins and pamphlets to our members, which to some extent will make up for it. The petition asking for a Commission to deal with spelling reform has received some eight hundred fresh signatures, many of them coming from the Colonies, where our movement is arousing increased interest. We have received a great deal of help in propaganda work, partly from those who are going to address you this evening - from Mr. Jackson, Mr. Drummond (whom we may well regard as a pioneer of spelling reform in this country), Mr. Sykes, and Dr. Macan, who presides this evening, and who contributed that admirable preface to Breaking the Spell, which many of you have read. Then there is Dr. Hunter, of Newcastle, who has given us most welcome support in spite of his many activities: he is head of the great shipbuilding firm of Swan, Hunter, & Richardson. We have further to thank especially Mr. Brodrick (of Liverpool), Miss E. Wood, Miss Werner, and Mr. Ed. Bagnall (of Wandsworth), Mr. Hodder (of Leeds), Mr. Mayman (of Hull), and Mr. J. Walker (of Colchester). Another keen helper, Captain J. N. Griffiths, of the British Expeditionary Force, has recently been killed in action. Prof. Gilbert Murray, whose absence we all regret, is an official of the Board of Education, and, as such, has been able to give us very valuable help. He is also a Fellow of the British Academy, who are now taking a great interest in Simplified Spelling. But the action of the Board of Education is most important of all, for they have sanctioned experiments in Simplified Spelling; and they have entrusted those experiments to one of their ablest Inspectors, Mr. H. M. Richards. What you are going to hear from Mr. Jackson refers to experiments made previously to that sanction. They were made in Dundee. That is the sort of thing we are accustomed to; the Scotch lead the way in such experiments, but we are going to try to run them close. I will not detain you longer, but gladly yield place to Mr. Drummond.
THE EXPERIENCES OF THE SPELLING REFORM.Mr. HENRY DRUMMOND: With the Chairman I regret the absence of Prof. Murray, especially the grounds of his absence. All of us would have been delighted to have his presence and his wisdom in connexion with this subject; but, failing his presence, we have had an excellent substitute in the person of Dr. Macan. He, to me, at any rate, is one whom I appreciate highly, inasmuch as at one time of his life he was not a spelling reformer; but he had an open mind, and I am glad that he allowed Prof. Max Müller to expand it and inform it. The result is that for forty years at least he has been an active spelling reformer. I hope that, if there are any here whose attitude as to spelling reform resembles that of Dr. Macan forty years ago, they will follow his example and advice, and read the excellent article which The Professor contributed to the "Fortnightly Review" about forty-three years ago.
THE DELIGHTS OF PHONOGRAPHY.I commenced to learn phonography in 1873. How the "Phonetic Teacher" came into my hands, except by my paying for it, I cannot say; and why I should start to learn phonography is equally obscure, for, when at school and well into my teens, I had little or no desire to read or learn anything - certainly not to be my own teacher. I made an exception in favour of phonography. After writing out and committing to memory the alphabet, which I thought I should never surmount, all else was plain sailing; and I have never studied anything with so much ease, pleasure, and devotion. Through it I was weaned, perhaps too much, from games, and became interested in literature, politics, and religion. These interests have been my delight ever since, and, instead of being an indifferent student, my time was consumed by reading newspapers and books. Although phonography was my pet study, I had no encouragement at home to pursue it. I was told it would never be any use to me. I disregarded this advice, and went on with my "Phonographic Teacher" and other textbooks as in a sea of glory, but not beyond my depths.
Contrast these opinions with those entertained to-day respecting shorthand. The lament in some quarters is that there are too many learning it; I deny it. Its acquisition should be attempted by all, and, as John Bright affirmed, the advantages would be incalculable. By becoming a phonographer I became a reader of the "Phonetic Journal." I looked more eagerly for its weekly issue than for anything else. Its pages influenced me in many ways, for it was not confined to the furtherance of phonetics, but comprised helpful selections from several authors. I shall always feel my indebtedness to its inspiring and elevating power, and my everlasting admiration for its noble and self-sacrificing editor for sixty years - Sir Isaac Pitman. What I read in the "Phonetic Journal" coloured my thoughts and actions, and led me into channels of thought I little dreamt of. When I had acquired a fair knowledge of phonography, I was more or less enthusiastic in the diffusion of phonographic principles - by teaching others, writing essays, or being a member of an "Ever-circulator," wherein a certain space was allotted for criticism and original or selected matter. I thus became an amateur journalist. One of my old conductors, the Rev. John Thomas of Exmouth, I am glad to say, is still alive, carrying on the good work that he began many years ago. If I may, I should like to impress upon phonographers to ally themselves with similar channels of phonographic activities and advancement.
SIR ISAAC PITMAN.As my acquaintance with phonography grew, and my ardour and love for the "Phonetic Journal" increased, my correspondence with Sir Isaac Pitman enlarged beyond the ordinary exchanges of a publishing house. I investigated his proposals concerning phonography and spelling reform, for his mind was ever active to the very end, and I made suggestions which, oftener than not, he bowled out of court. He was a tough reformer to overcome. His orders were short and inflexible, "Test for a week, and report."
If my "fancy's fairy fretwork" could not stand "a glimpse of fair reason," it faded away from his logical and practical mind. It was a rigid school for an enthusiast to graduate in, but I am glad I submitted to his commendable rule, which has enabled me to look upon the problems of life, if not "in the limelight of fancy," certainly "in the daylight of fact" and experience, so that I am seldom depressed by defeat or elated by success. No doubt some of my compeers "retired hurt" when the fabric of their vision respecting some proposed improvement they desired to effect in phonography or phonetic spelling was left to "blush unseen," by Sir Isaac's rejection of their suggestions. Many a man has become a bitter opponent because some creation of his brain has not been valued by a master mind as highly as by the author himself. These highly strung personages are not extinct. I shall not ask the Editor of THE PIONEER to name them. In some instances I had the satisfaction of bringing Sir Isaac round to my way of thinking. Phonography laid the foundation of my spelling reform proclivities, and, if I had consulted a phrenologist, I could not have been led into a happier vein of thought or activities more to my liking. Phonography provided a logical basis for script, which was utilized very widely for journalistic work. The commercial world was slow to yoke it into harness for the dispatch of business, but its worth grew and grew amazingly. Government Departments looked at it with a shudder, until Prof. Fawcett and Mr. Chamberlain, much aided by my old friend Mr. J. B. Rundell, brushed aside the stately demeanour of "go-as-you-please" pace at Whitehall, when it was enough to give matters "serious consideration" - and forget them.
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