SS10. 8pp. On other pages: part 2, part 3, part 4 (Supplement).
[Allan Campbell: see Journals, Newsletters, Media, Spell 4 Literacy NZ.]

Founded 1908
Working for planned change in English spelling for the benefit of learners and users everywhere.


simpl speling November 1999 part 1.

Editor: Allan Campbell.

MPs to hold inquiry.

A committee of British MPs is to look at why English children are behind continental children in literacy and maths.

Submission of evidence is sought. Society secretary Masha Bell expects to have details and guidelines soon.



Email group debates reform proposals.

The July meeting of the Society committee was told the members' email discussion group was vigorously debating various aspects of implementing reform.

About 12 people were trying to compile a list of reform proposals which could eventually be put into a ballot for the whole membership to vote on. Members of the group had put forward various ideas for initial reform. Two different proposals were then discussed and voted on. Zé do Rock was organizing the voting and recording the outcomes. (See article by Zé.)

The secretary, Masha Bell, was planning to classify, with help from discussion group members, the errors of TO among the 6000 most common English words which she had now compiled.

She believed this classification might enable the Society to explain more clearly to the public why English spelling was difficult to master. It might also be useful to members when they were asked to vote for the measures which they would like to see included in an initial reform.



Publishing rules altered for members' Personal Views.

Redefined rules restricting orthografical choices will govern future decisions to issue Personal Views, the occasional publication for Society members wishing to air their proposals for spelling change.

At its July meeting the committee decided the three PVs in the pipeline (#10-12) would be published as planned.

But in future the Society would publish only those Personal Views which used the current alfabet, did not use diacritics or accents, and did not assign new values to current letters.

Paul Fletcher, the committee member in charge of PV publication, was asked to rewrite the guidelines to authors accordingly. Members seeking publication of their schemes by the Society should ask for the revised guidelines.

It was suggested authors with email should offer their schemes for an initial peer review by the email discussion group, before submitting them to Paul.

Changes to spelling competition.

This year's competition for International Spelling Day has been changed from that advertised in SSJuly99.

It is now for collections of spellings on the internet and in emails which strike u as being more sensible than what we have now.

Prizes: Individual collections - Booklets on spelling games, and spelling cartoon memo booklets.

Best collection from a school - A take-home Teach Yourself to Read and Spell video and manual.

The usual competition rules apply, subject to a minimum of ten entries in each section.

All contributions without a prior copyright may be included in publications in aid of literacy innovations, unless entrants prefer not.

Send your entry to: The International English Spelling Competition by email or by post to Valerie Yule

Closing date: September 9, 2000

[See International Spelling Day and Valerie Yule: Journals, Newsletters, Media, Personal View, Anthology, Bulletins, Web links.]


[Tom Lang: see Newsletters .]

Winning spelling jokes

[Three of Tom Lang's winning International Spelling Day jokes. Spell-checker's suggestions are in parentheses.]
Bob was feeling a little bit rough
with a sore throat and voice very grough (grouch)
He said, What shall I do?
I'm feeling so blo (lo)
I'll try a quick cure sniffing snough. (slough)

Have u ever tried spelling manoeuvre?
U'll have to be a quick moeuvre (mauver).
But with a sound scheme
it'll go like a dhreme (dharma)
as simple as using a hoeuvre. (whoever)

Bill spent several hours drinking liquor
Then said, Now I'm feeling much siquor. (liquor)
It's going to mache (mach) my wee belly ache
and give me a pain in my tiquor. (liquor)



This 'n' that from here 'n' there.

Italian student studies SSS.

A guest at the Society's July committee meeting was Nicoletta Tonizzo, an Italian student of English and German at the University of Udine. She is writing a history of the Society from its foundation until now, focusing in particular on spelling proposals developed and supported by the Society (New Spelling, ITA, Cut Spelling). The dissertation is her final step to her degree in English language and literature.

Her work includes an introduction on the problem of English spelling and a short account of the reform proposals of the past 400 years. The work is in Italian, but the conclusions (10- 15 pages) are in English. She thought she had enuff material about the history of the Society but wanted to know something more about its present activity.

She thought it unlikely we could make an impact with our current small membership.

She had found learning to spell English much harder than German as it required so much memorizing - but her biggest problem was the pronunciation of unfamiliar English words that she came across in reading.

¶ Nicoletta has now joined the Society.]



Canberra-based writer, and SSS member, Mark O'Connor has been appointed Olympic Poet. [See Bulletin.]


Young Brits favor 'Americanisms'

Gregory Byron.

Young people in Britain are abandoning traditional pronunciations in favor of 'Americanisms', while older people remain loyal to the Queen's English, a survey of fonetic preferences has found.

Two-thirds of people aged under 26 now call a schedule a skedule in contrast to 92% of over 65s who still say shedule, according to research by a linguistics and foneties professor, John Wells, who has compiled a new edition of the Longmans Pronunciation Dictionary [due out about now].

He also discovered that half of young people pronounce ogle as oggle while 95% of over-65s would rather oagle.

The survey of 2000 people from all over the country - the largest of its kind in Britain - revealed a growing fondness among the young for saying veycation, and for stressing the first syllable in princess rather than the latter.

But few say nitch rather than neesh for niche, and only 3% of those questioned say sighmultaneous for simultaneous.

Professor Wells, of University College, London, found strong differences of opinion over many of the 100 words covered by the survey. The debate over scone illustrates the point. Two-thirds of people prefer sconn but a third steadfastly prefer scoan. He commented: 'There seems to be no difference between the north and the south of England, altho the Scots are solid for sconn. Some English people think that sconn is ordinary and scoan is posh, but others think it is the other way round.'

His research also uncovered a tendency of young southern people to adopt a northern lilt. Chance was pronounced chans by 60% of young people whereas 80% of over-65s preferred chahnce. He added: 'Older people will be shocked that under-26s prefer mischiev'ous to traditional mis'chievous.'

The Guardian, London. Professor Wells is a vice-president of the Society. [See Journals, Newsletters, Media, Web links.]



Another name spelling change.

In July, the West Bengal State Assembly unanimously agreed to change the spelling in English of India's largest city from Calcutta to Kolkata, to reflect its Bengali pronunciation.

The changing of municipal names has become common in post-colonial India. Bombay is Mumbai, Madras is Chennai, Cochin is Kochi, Trivandrum is Thiruvananthapuram. The new forms are slowly becoming common usage.

Some Bengalis say Calcutta was coined by English overlords who could not pronounce Kolikata, a village near where they landed.

A letter writer in The Times of India claimed mere change of pronunciation and spelling did not shake off the colonial legacy. 'Kolkata is just a way of Bengali pronunciation, where a becomes o. If historical names are to be really revived, then it should have been Saptagram, and not Kolkata.'



Further to the report on Valerie Yule's Babl in the July issue, Tom Zurinskas points out he has a Truespel version of Scrabble, reported to the emailing group last year.


Creativity - in story and spelling.

The heading They rite vividley, but they cant spel in the New Zealand Herald in July summed up one of the findings of National Education Monitoring Report #12 on Writing Assessment Results 1998. This was a quadrennial study of primary school children's writing at year 4 and year 8 (about ages eight and 12 years).

Spelling was one of the skills monitored. Among the findings was that spelling accuracy improved from year 4 to year 8, with 90% of year 8 pupils spelling at least 90% of their words correctly.

But the pupils' perceptions of their spelling ability did not coincide with this. Asked how good they thought they were at spelling, 30% of year 4 pupils answered 'heaps', 48% 'quite a lot', 16% 'a little', and 6% 'not at all'. For year 8 the respective figures were 18%, 43%, 29%, and 10%.

The Otago Daily Times made no mention of spelling in its report, focusing on girls outperforming boys at most writing tasks. Many other papers ignored the report altogether.



[Zé do Rock: see Journals, Newsletters, Personal View.]

What one member has been doing.

Wanderlust brings spelling challenges.

Zé do Rock, Germany

[This article was written in progressive zinglish but has been altered to Simpl Speling style. Readers can see zinglish first stage in paragraf (1), complete zinghsh in (8), and RITE in (9).]
(1) I always had quite a few spelling mistakes, and we mite consider this a subconscious help for our caus, mitent we? I hichhiked around the world for 13 years, visited 105 countris and had lots of trouble with robbers, police, and women. And of cors with languages. Every time i was confronted with a new one i began thinking how i could simplify it.
I ended up in Germany, where I wrote a book called Fom winde ferfeelt. In the book I tell about my trip around the world, using a spelling system I call Ultradoitsh (ultra-German). The first chapter is in normal German, and at the beginning of every chapter I explain briefly a new spelling change. From this moment I write accordingly till the end of the book.

The book was quite successful in the media, because it was published when the discussion about German spelling reform started. It appeared in 30 TV programs and more than 100 newspaper reviews. It is cult and it's still selling a few hundred copies a month, after four years.

I translated and adapted the book for Brazil, calling the new spelling Brazileis. There I used a political argument: 200 years after our political independence, we should declare our linguistic independence from Portugal. Stop saying we speak bad Portuguese and start saying we speak good Brazilish. We just have to adapt the spelling to our spoken language.

In Brazil the media success was much bigger (70 million people saw me on TV) but the sales much smaller, because the book got known as a language book, and only intellectuals buy this kind of book in Brazil. Unfortunately they didn't like it. Some journalists said: 'He spells like illiterate people. If he's successful the illiteracy will grow!'

In my performances I let the public vote about one change in spelling. So I was able to create Wunschdeutsch (wish-German), which is quite milder than Ultradoitsh. People vote for changes they have problems with. Otherwise they vote against, even if the change is logical and economic. That's why they didn't want oi for eu or sh for sch. These are quite regular features in German. The same happened in Brazil, where nobody wants Riu di Janeru or even Hiu d Janer. OK, it is a u (oo), but everybody knows that a final o is pronounced u, so why change it?

In 1998 I published the science-fiction Ufo in der küche (Ufo in the kitchen), written in Wunschdeutsch. No big success so far. Here the problem was: People who liked the courage of Ultradoitsh were disappointed with this very mild form (which was as hard to read as the first paragraf of this article); people who didn't like the first book because of the spelling didn't buy the second one at all.

(8) I hav reform projects for inglish, french, and spanish. The inglish skeem is cald zinglish (zé-inglish). I think that a fonetic inglish looks like swahilly; it's tu far from TO. So I disided to criate a skeem that respeccts inglish patterns. Peepal can reed and rite it perfectly without preevius TO nollege; eeven the stres is cleer. The prise tu pay is the relativly hy number of rools. But at leest it is a skeem i can uze evrywair; evrybody understands me.

(9) I'm looking for a publisher for the English version. Originally I wanted to write it in zinglish, but I mite write it in RITE spelling, the scheem we'r building together in the SSS e-male group. Now we'r just taking decisions for the first stage. Every member can make sugestions and vote; i count the votes. This dusnt meen that most members suport the idea, but most voters do. Sum members dont vote, sum vote but dont like it becauze the system is too 'mild', sum becauze it is too much. Wat the voters hav decided so far, you can see in this paragraf. I'm writing acording to the current RITE (Reducing Irregularities in Traditional English spelling).

When the first stage is ready, we'll propose it to the SSS, where all members should have the opportunity to vote for or against any change. Then we should ideally organize a poll among the normal public to check whether the scheme has changes that fewer than 50% approve. It doesn't mean that the SSS would ignore all other schemes, but that it would use it as the house spelling instead of TO. It is just absurd that a society that combats TO uses it. How can we expect other people to use alternative spellings, if we, the preachers, don't do it ourselves?

Quite a few members are protesting already. The Society should use my scheme, and if it doesn't use my scheme, then it should use TO, but never somebody else's scheme. The only way out from this autistic situation is a scheme created by as many people as possible.

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On other pages: part 2, part 3, part 4 (Supplement).