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THE PIONEER OF SIMPLIFIED SPELLING.
FEBRUARY 1918 part 4.
REPORTS OF OTHER EXPERIMENTS.
WE propose to keep our members informed of the progress made in our experiments by
issuing occasional bulletins.
Morgan Academy, Dundee.
MR. ROBERT JACKSON writes: "The school authorities are delighted, enthusiastic in fact, over the results of their six months' experiment. They have begun the transition stage, and to their surprise my prediction as to 'little trouble' is being verified."
Lyons Council School, Hetton-le-Hole, Co. Durham.
Miss BARBARA DAVISON, Head of the Infants' Department, writes:
An experiment in Simplified Spelling was started in this school at the end of October 1917. The scheme drawn up was very simple, being first sounds, then syllable building, word building, sentences, and the Ferst and Sekond Reeders.New Village Council School, West Riding.
We made three "sounds" charts, which were always in front of the children, who were given a few minutes each day in which to go over them. These were very soon mastered, and we then tried syllable and word building. At this stage the children showed very great interest and were anxious for books and stories. We took sentences and stories on the B.B., following, as far as possible, the Montessori principles. The children got on so quickly at this stage that we aspired to A Ferst Reeder, and they are doing splendidly at it. The Montessori method of asking questions, giving orders, and other interesting ideas is followed in these Simplified Spelling reading lessons, and the children are very quick. All writing matter, recitations and words of songs, are taken in this spelling, and by the end of next term we intend to be very fluent.
There must be a very great saving of valuable time. In just over a month we have gone through the course, which by the other spelling takes at least a year. The average age of the class is six years.
The Head Mistress writes: "Many thanks for the readers. We have tried the system for about three months with splendid results. With the help of the Readers we expect the progress will be doubled whilst the preparation will be halved."
IN THE INTERESTS OF ETYMOLOGY.
A PERUSAL of Archbishop Trench's English, Past and Present Lecture VIII, will
show that it merely discusses certain spellings from a supposed 'etymological' point
of view, and does not at all attempt to deal with the only question of real
importance: What is the true history of our spelling, and how came we to spell words
as we do? I make particular reference to this chapter, because I believe that it has
unfortunately done more harm than good, as it is altogether founded on a false
principle, such as no scientific etymologist would endorse in the present state of
our knowledge.... The most important elements of our language are neither Latin nor
Greek, but English, Scandinavian, and French. The English and Scandinavian elements
are very carefully kept out of sight by Trench, except in a very few instances, and
the French element is treated very briefly and unsatisfactorily; indeed, a careful
treatment of it would have told the other way. . .
"It is a national disgrace to us to find that the wildest arguments concerning English spelling and etymology are constantly being used even by well educated persons, whose ignorance of early English pronunciation and of modern English phonetics is so complete that they have no suspicion whatever of the amazing worthlessness of their ludicrous utterances.
"In the interests of etymology I wish the common spelling was utterly smashed." - Prof. W. W. SKEAT, Principles of English Etymology.
"It is not only pitiful to see the expressions of Archbishop Trench - uttered just a quarter of a century ago, when English philology was in its pro-scientific babyhood, and scarcely anything was known of our language in its earlier stages, save the outward forms in which it had come down to us in MS. or print - quoted against the rational reconstruction of our spelling; but it is unfair to Dr. Trench himself, who then stood so well in the front of philology. . . . Philology has long since penetrated the mere drapery and grappled with the study of words, not as dead marks, but as living realities, and demands facts, not fictions, to handle. None of us knew this in 1855; we were still busy with the drapery, and irate at the sacrilegious phonetists who would dare to alter our language. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing when it does not recognize its littleness nor gain in amount in five and twenty years . . . .
"I cannot spare time to write to papers . . . . I must hasten to get the first part of the Dictionary out, for that, I believe, will supply ammunition to kill the etymological dragon." - Sir JAMES A. H. MURRAY.
FOREIGNERS AND SIMPLIFIED SPELLING.
At the present time THE PIONEER is the only publication of any size issued in a
rational spelling; and it should offer an excellent opportunity for using it as a
reading book and testing its power of facilitating the study of English.
By JOSEPH HOGARTH (Johannesburg).
For some time it has been my pleasure to gather a few spare PIONEERS from my friends and send them to a teacher of languages in the town of Soerabaya (population 300,000), in Java, Dutch East Indies, where he makes a successful use of them in teaching English to a number of people in that place. He says that they are very keen on learning English, and look eagerly forward for the arrival of THE PIONEER.
The following quotation, taken from page 158 of the 1913 PIONEER, is worth observing:
"I am teaching Spanish, and in a lesson one hour long my pupils learn to read - not, of course, to understand - with ease."
Such a test proves Spanish spelling to be exceedingly simple. Happy Spaniards! Would the scheme of Simplified Spelling stand the same test as successfully? In other words: "Could an average intelligent foreigner learn to read so well, in an hour's drill, that an Englishman could understand him? "Who will make this interesting investigation and announce the result? For Simplified Spelling to win such a test would be a great triumph, and such a triumph would win many recruits.
Even rough Simplified Spelling may not quite reach up to the mark of Spanish efficiency, yet it would still possess one very gratifying feature. It is this: the drill necessary to enable an average intelligent Briton or American to read Simplified Spelling amounts to - neither one hour, nor yet one minute, but to zero.
The number of foreigners of all races and of all colours endeavouring to learn English is very great. But present English books in the "fossilised" spelling are almost useless for these peoples. They must depend upon the living teacher, or live among English-speaking people, or give it up in despair.
The advent of THE PIONEER, however, makes a rational spelling available at last, and, as previously said, it is being used as an English reading book in Soerabaya.
Probably this may only be the beginning of a use which may yet grow to colossal proportions among the vast millions of India, China, Japan, and the pacific Isles. Such a possibility fascinates the imagination and prompts a keen desire to carry out any further adjustment which may make the scheme of Simplified Spelling a little easier to understand and thereby assist the pupil or the foreigner to master it the more quickly.
[We are sure that our members will be interested to learn of the use to which THE PIONEER has been put in Java. It is obviously not very well fitted for the purpose of a beginners' book; perhaps the teacher of English in Soerabaya to whom Mr. Hogarth refers will now make use of the Ferst Reeder and The Sekond Reeder.)
Mr. J. Marti Ramis (Barcelona), a young Spaniard and member of the S.S.S., seeks the privilege of corresponding in simplified spelling with some youthful fellow member - of either sex.
A FEW HINTS TO CANVASSERS OF SIGNATURES TO OUR PETITION.
INTRODUCE the subject of the need of reform in our spelling in an easy
conversational manner - if anything a little off-hand rather than too emphatically.
Avoid entering into arguments about technicalities or alluding to how words should
be phonetically spelt, this latter being sometimes too great a change for those
first introduced to the subject, and may lead to withholding support. Educationists
and those really well educated know all about our faulty spelling, do not attempt to
argue in its favour, and usually sign readily enough; others, unfortunately in great
numbers, try to bring forward all sorts of objections, often with a view to airing
their knowledge, ending usually in a display of in. credible ignorance. Do not be
too severe; let them down lightly or you may find them taking refuge in ridicule and
obstinate refusal to have anything to do with the matter. When etymology is alluded
to, mention at once it was Prof. Skeat, our greatest etymologist, who was the first
President of our Society.
Make free use of the words "Spelling Reform" or "Revised Spelling in preference to "Simplified Spelling"; this latter is very often too big a jump for our insular prejudice and ingrained conservatism -many are apt to view it as somebody's pet hobby, a fixed system they might not wholly agree with. The word "reform" is less emphatic, points to a defect and its removal. Harp on the anomalies and inconsistencies in our spelling system, or want of it, and that reform would be gradual, and deal first with these. Adapt your methods and, above all, retain your equanimity.
Always carry on you a petition form - you never know when or where a name may be obtained; folded to the size of an ordinary envelope, it fits conveniently and can be kept neat in a letter-case or pocket-book. Forms printed on the thin paper are better for carrying than those on the thick paper. Always have attached to the petition form one of the Societv's printed lists of names of supporters - previously marking those of prominent men for convenience in drawing attention to them. The list of the Society's officers as printed on their note-paper is most useful, and should also be attached as, in addition to saving time and trouble in enumerating names, they are far more impressive when actually seen. When you consider sufficient interest has been aroused, incidentally mention your having taken great interest in the movement for reform, especially in that part relating to a Government inquiry - after the War, of course - and that, as the heading of the petition shows it to be quite non-committal, you ask them to add their signatures and thus join the eminent company and be in the van of so praiseworthy a cause. It is well to obtain the signature of some prominent local man to head the list as this is often found a great draw.
Very many signatures can thus be obtained, and once secured it is extraordinary how freely you are supported and even criticism withheld, and the question of becoming members promised consideration. Should great interest be shown it is advisable to try and secure members forthwith. In addition to the many useful data about loss of educational time, &c., set out in the Society's literature, helpful phrases are:
"Now or never is the time to undo the knots England finds herself tied up in" - a useful rejoinder when confronted with the excuse of the War.
"Slovenliness should not be justified because it is general."
Particular points for criticism may be found, but everyone who deems the proposal for inquiry good in the main should give their support.
When writing to members of Parliament and prominent men for their supports let it be very clearly understood you are a voluntary worker, keenly interested in the movement, but have no axe to grind; don't use the Society's note-paper; your own looks much more independent, and with your private or business address printed on it a better appearance is produced. It is essential to have several petition forms in use contemporaneously - they are often kept some time before returned, and even the delays of transit by post are thus avoided.
The above "Hints" are more particularly useful when finding yourself in company likely to raise arguments or criticism - as sometimes among the better educated, those thinking themselves so, old-fashioned folk, those advanced in years. When, however, you meet people, in your estimation of active minds, holding more up-to-date views of things in general (so easy to ascertain by a few leading queries), then it is better, and much quicker, simply to produce your petition form with the casual remark that "it is a little hobby of yours, and would they like to add their names," pointing first of all to the attached printed list of supporters and the Society's officers, and then to the heading of the petition, its quite non-committal nature, and to any leading local names you have already secured. Don't forget to ask if they would like to add their names: it's more effective than asking them to do so. It is often a useful plan to leave your petition and call again for it in a few days' time; often one finds several members of the household have added their names.
[The writer of these "Hints" has done most valuable service to our movement, and has been singularly successful in obtaining signatures for the petition. His article, apart from its practical value, has not a little psychological interest. - ED. PIONEER.]
NOTES AND NEWS.
The membership of the Society now numbers 2972.
Russia and Simplified Spelling.After referring to the fiercest snowstorm for years and a general shortage of fuel in Petrograd, a correspondent continues: "But it takes more than little things like that to disturb some people, for the Government imperturbably decrees that Russia shall adopt phonetic spelling as from January 14; and, not content with having abolished the Church, marriage, property, land, houses, and bank laws, is now suppressing three vowels and a consonant."
It is interesting to record, in this connexion, that - in spite of the Revolution - people living in Petrograd and other parts of Russia continue to write for our literature and information about our scheme.
Do not Blame the Children.Said the editor of the "Leicester Daily Post" the other day: "If any reader would like to test his orthographical powers, let him try his skill upon the following list of words, which were dictated (with "explanatory context") at a recent examination for free scholarships to county children:
'Pastry, plentiful, rinse, acute, assent, waistcoat, shirt-sleeves, fortieth, suspense, justice, immense, starred, furlough, whizzing, fined, yawn, discern, zealous, wrangling, suspicion, immigrant, wiliness, barbarous, wood-mite, whiff, perfume, eccentricity, stealthily.'At first glance they look simple enough, and they are certainly not words that should be outside the range of the average boy or girl of ten years and upwards; yet, out of about three hundred children none spelt all correctly, and only eighty-seven got 75 per cent. right. Perhaps one ought to blame the English language rather than the little ones, for most of the traps embodied in the test arise from the fact that in our illogical language we represent the same sound by a diversity of letters and letter groups."
Honour where Honour is Due?In a letter appearing in a recent number of the "Schoolmaster" we are referred to as the "Dogged-as-does-it Society."
What Does it Spell?
Engineer Storekeeper (dictating): "Two gross fire bricks."(From the "Punch" Almanack.)
Stoker (writing) : " Two gross fire b-r-i-x."
Engineer Storekeeper: "B-r-i-x don't spell 'bricks.'"
Stoker: "Well, wot do it spell?"
Can We Blame Him?"A County Council teacher I met told me yesterday that, looking over a very small lad's 'composition,' he discovered that 'ammernishon-fakterrey' and 'didanaf' were meant to imply 'ammunition factory' and 'didn't half.' Plucky lad!"
(From the "Daily Mirror.")
|W. H. Baxter, Harrogate.|
W. J. Sheppard, Putney.
|J. McRae, M.A., Teacher Training College, Melbourne, Australia.
W. P. Mason, Essex.
Basil Hall, R.N., Cromer.
|Mrs.||E. Banks, Colchester.
Fellows, Great Yarmouth.
A. M. Healey, Bolton.
A. E. Hobday, Colchester.
E. Longley, Maidstone.
|E. M. Michelin, ... School, Gt. Yarmouth.|
M. J. Milburn, Great Yarmouth.
G. H. Parnell, Colchester.
J. Wharton, Bolton.
|Misses||E. M. Bagshaw, ... School, Bolton.
H. S. Barbour, Great Yarmouth.
D. W. Barker, Harrogate.
J. A. Baxendale, Bolton.
A. Brindle, Lancs.
S. Brook, Colchester.
E. Cockshott, Bradford.
N. Cole, Bradford.
F. A. Cook, Colchester.
G. R. Davies, Colchester.
E. Domecan, Bolton.
E. E. Donaghey, Colchester.
A. Dracup, Bradford.
Duncan, A. C., ... School, Putney.
M. Eccles, Bolton.
E. Fitton, Great Yarmouth.
E. Goffin, ... School, Gt. Yarmouth.
H. Gray, Bradford.
A. Higginson, ... School, Bolton.
G. Hill, Great Yarmouth.
K. M. Hoey, Bradford.
L. Holt, ... School, Bolton.
E. Hurr, Great Yarmouth.
M. Iles, Harrogate.
L. James, Great Yarmouth.
| B. Joss, ... School, Bolton.|
E. King, Great Yarmouth.
F. Lomax, Bolton.
E. Mangnall, Bolton.
Newman, ... School, Colchester.
M. A. Pratt, Great Yarmouth.
L. Reynolds, Colchester.
E. Samwell, Peterborough.
M. Scott, Great Yarmouth.
E. M. Singleton, Great Yarmouth.
M. Smee, Colchester.
M. B. Smith, Great Yarmouth.
M. I. S. Spanton, ... School, Gt. Yarmouth.
A. Stansfield, ... School Bradford.
A. E. Stoll, ... School, Bolton.
M. E. Stoodley, ... School, Colchester.
E. Storey, Colchester.
E. Taylor, Bolton.
M. Thorpe, Harrogate.
B. Wagstaff, ... School, Colchester.
E. C. Walter, Harrogate.
A. Wheater, Harrogate.
C. I. Wilson, ... School, Ripon.
Wright, ... School, Bolton.
V. Yates, Harrogate.
|Messrs.||A. H. Allan, Harrogate.
W. E. Andrews, Harrogate.
F. H. Bate, ... School, Colchester.
W. Butterworth, Ed. Office, Harrogate.
F. C. Chalmers, Surrey.
L. Cook, Colchester.
E. Cowgill, Shipley, Yorks.
C. Mason Crook, Bolton.
E. Curtis, Oldham.
A. Osborne Eaves, Harrogate.
W. R. Edwards, Mardston.
S. Fish, Oldham.
H. W. Gleave, Leeds.
H. Goode, Great Yarmouth.
I. Grondahl, M.A., London.
J. Eliot Hadley, Staffs.
W. Heather, Richmond, Surrey.
L. Hobday, Colchester.
T. E. Hughes, Colchester.
|J. E. Kent, Bolton.|
A. S. Keywood, Great Yarmouth.
Wm. E. C. Lewis, ... School, Essex.
F. C. Martin, B.Mech.E., Hants.
J. W. May, ... School, Great Yarmouth.
S. B. Nayler, Bolton.
F. Pearson, Oldham.
L. C. Pullan, ... School, Peterborough.
J. Marti Ramis, Barcelona, Spain.
E. Ransom, Bedford.
E. Roberts, Alston, Torquay.
R. de Rome, Bradford.
E. Sankey, Oldham.
H. Schofield, Bolton.
I. E. Smart, Bradford.
A. E. Thoseby, ... School, Harrogate.
A. W. Tillett, Peterborough.
J. W. Tomlinson, ... School, Bradford.
September, October, November.
Educational Times, Leicester Daily Post, and the South African Journal of Science contained long articles on the advocacy of spelling reform.
Durham Chronicle, Newcastle Chronicle, Newcastle Weekly Journal (2 letters), School Government Chronicle, Schoolmaster (2 letters), Tonbridge Free Press, Yorkshire Observer, Yorkshire Post (5 letters) published excellent letters strongly urging the adoption of some measure of spelling reform.
Bulletin of the British Chamber of Commerce for Italy reprinted - italicizing the most striking passages - the brilliant Preface (by Dr. Macan, of Oxford University) to our latest publication, Breaking the Spell: an Appeal to Common Sense.
Education printed a long and clever review of Breaking the Spell: an Appeal to Common Sense. We understand that the reviewer, who acknowledged he was in favour of revised spelling, was no less a scholar than the distinguished Dr. W. Stuart Macgowan, M.A. The book was also sympathetically referred to in the Advance Sheet, Bayonne, N.J., U.S.A., Educational Record, and Modern Language Teaching.
Eastern Daily Press very favourably reported Prof. Ripman's recent lecture to the Teachers' Association, Great Yarmouth.
Daily Mirror, Evening Standard, Journal of Commerce (Liverpool), Schoolmaster, Times, Yorkshire Post published references to spelling, some of which were very droll.
Aberdeen Free Press and the Philomath included interesting articles dealing with standard speech and its influence on dialect.
The only paper containing a letter adverse to Simplified Spelling was the Schoolmaster.
C.F. Hodgson & Son, Printerz, London.
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