SS10. On other pages: part 1, part 2, part 4 (Supplement).

simpl speling November 1999 part 3.

[Jean Wilkinson: see Newsletters .]

Jean Wilkinson, USA, writes:

The undercover agent, namely Uh.

'Daddy, how do u spell a, like a boy, a girl?'

'Ha! That one is both easy and complicated, funny and unfunny!

'The easiest way is a, but if u have to think about it a while and u say, "Well, uh ...", then u write it uh. When u ask, "Is it time to go to school?" the o in to comes out the same sound. We're used to seeing it spelled u, as in cup, but sometimes u don't have a clue as to what letter or letters u're going to need. Umbrella uses it twice, first as u and then as a. Onion uses it twice, but as o! Mountainous also uses it twice - can u find it? Yeah, first it's ai, then it's ou.'

'Daddy, is that fair?'
'Well ... uh. . . .'
'Does it get ridiculous?'
'U better believe it, honey. Are u ready for a long trip thru the alfabet? Uh will show u a lot of scenery!'

a about
au epaulet
ea pageant
eou courageous
ia parliament
o carrot
ou enormous
y ethyl
a-e pirate
e angel
ei forfeit
i pencil
ie patient
o-e welcome
u medium
ai mountain
e-e license
eo pigeon
i-e engine
ie-e patience
oi-e tortoise
u-e ferrule

'Oh, Daddy! Couldn't we just use one letter? One way?'

'U know - most languages do! Take Italian or Spanish, for instance. When they make a spelling rule, they hardly ever break it.'

'Why don't we do that?'

'Good question. In Europe, countries have fixed up or are fixing up their spelling. Even Chinese has an alfabet now, along with picture-writing. We did try. And some of us are still trying.'

[Allan Campbell: see Journals, Newsletters, Media.]

Disappointing response to advertising trial.

Allan Campbell.
A trial advertising campaign over three months aimed at New Zealand primary school teachers drew mixed results.

In November 1997 the Society's committee placed a small advertisement for new members in The Times (SSMar98) at a cost of £270. One response was received. A suggestion was then made to try a similar ad in The Guardian, at a similar price.

At the time it was thought teachers should be targeted as they were the adults most likely to benefit from improved spelling. On hearing of the Guardian proposal I suggested to the committee that a series of 'teaser' ads would be more effective than a single one. I offered to investigate the New Zealand educational publishing scene to see if there was a way of having a series at a cheaper rate.

I found the NZ Educational Institute (the primary school teachers' union) fortnightly newspaper, NZEI Roteou, would run a series of six 2cm by 2-column ads for $360 (approximately £120). It had a 22,000 circulation and was read by about 28,000.

I proposed the six ads have a similar content - basically the address to inquire from - but that the heading vary with each. I also suggested they talk of something more positive than 'simple' spelling, and settled on 'Better Spelling'.

Thus the six insertions each bore a heading starting 'Better Spelling' followed respectively by: for better reading, for better writing, for better teaching, for better creativity, for better use of class time, for better spelling. [One is shown below.]

The committee approved the proposal as a relatively cheap trial.

The ads (the final two in two-color) appeared among a block of other ads, in the final term of 1998 and the first term of 1999.

We received nine replies. One email reply did not supply a postal address when requested, so I could not send all the follow-up material.

This material included a letter expanding on the themes of the six headings of the advertisements, the blue SSS information and enrolment card, and a printout of three newspaper letters telling of English-speaking parents in Prague, Wales, and Jakarta finding their children were learning to read and write the local language more easily than they were learning to do so in English.

One respondent joined immediately. I did not hear from the others.

In March 1999 I sent a letter and a short questionnaire with an sae to these people asking why they had not taken it further. One said he could not afford it at the time but now could; 'please bill me'. I sent him details about joining, telling him he'd have to send his sub to England. I have heard no more.

In total, six responded to this survey. Five had read only one of the advertisements; one had seen two of them

Four said they had thought we might be able to help them with their class work; two had always been interested in the subject; and one was curious - had never heard of us.

Four found we were not what they thought we were; two could not afford the subscription; and one was deterred by the Society being based overseas.

Two replied to a request for suggestions on what we should do. One said we should target specific schools; and the other said we should supply 'heaps of free information.'

My conclusions? I was disappointed that we drew such a small response from the size of readership. I hope we learn something from it.

While I think the idea of making the message more positive than 'simple spelling' is valid, perhaps there is a 'better' way of doing it than 'simply' renaming it better. This gave a message to four respondents that we were offering them something to improve their classroom teaching. Maybe 'improved spelling', upgraded spelling', 'updated spelling', 'modernized spelling', or 'simpler spelling'.

It was also interesting that most respondents said they saw only one of the ads. More justification, I think, for running a series.

I think we need to make it easy for people to join. Paying the subs locally rather than the hassle of getting bank drafts or checks for overseas payment should also be considered. [This is now being trialed in New Zealand, with subs being paid to me with a corresponding reduction being made in my Simpl Speling expense claim.] I think we should look at a cheaper membership, with reduced benefits, for students or others who find £10 too much.

And I think there might be something in the caution Valerie Yule gave us that in her experience teachers were not as good a target as we might think.

[This is an edited version of the report to the committee]

Better Spelling for better reading!
Interested in the Simplified Spelling Society's aims?

Information: Allan Campbell ... ... ...

[Steve Bett: see Journals, Newsletters, Personal View, Web links.]
[Web addresses have been omitted as they are unlikely to be valid now. Search engines may find the people or topics.]

Spelling on the net with Steve Bett


Easy conversion to reform spelling:

The Perlscript converter runs on a remote server and requires no set-up. U simply cut and paste the text, article, or chapter that u want to convert into a window on screen and click the convert button.

Spelling for kids Alan Mole's new website oriented toward youngsters. [See Links page.]

Net lies and falsehoods: A place to check before spreading urban myths and virus hoaxes. Our discussion group has had its share of false alarms sent by well-meaning members. Before perpetuating one of these hoaxes, check them out at one of the places on the net devoted to checking out these stories.

Spanglish for high school?

What would English look Like if it were transcribed into the orthografy used for Spanish?

Bifor an orthografi can get tu f'rst beis, wan m'ast identifai an odiens that wil uz it. ITA w'rkt for a wail in the 'rli 1970s b'at lakt steing paur. It waz aftr ol jast an inish'al tiiching alfabet.

Abbreviated vowel chart.

caet (cat)cat(cot)aiz (eyes)ar (are) ir (ire)
ej (edge)h'r (her)leit (late) er (air) 
itskifiu (few)ir (ear)  
o (awe)shoboatboi (boy) or (ore)
cuk (cook)tutuulzLuis (Louis) tur (tour)
ap (up)agosofahaus (house) aur (our)

I am propoazing Spanglish bi uzd in hai skuul langwij clasas. If after l'rning tha orthografi thei du nat continiu to uz it for Inglish, thei wil continiu to uz it for Spanish. Spanglish is an ASCII espanyol.

Spanish has no schwa or ˆ sound so one either exends the use of a [ah] to include [uh] or one invents a new symbol correspondence such a @=uh. Merging fonemes will create some ambiguities but they will be no worse than TO.

Unlike most reforms, Spanglish retains some redundancies such as ci, ce for si, se and ca, cu for ka, ku and qu for kw, ciudad (citi), cuidado (kerfal; careful), centro (central. This allows a certain amount of traditional distinctions -cirial=cereal, sirial=serial.

[Justin Rye: see Journal, Links page.]

Dealing with the arguments against spelling reform.

Justin Rye brilliantly deflates 12 common arguments against spelling reform (loss of homofone distinctions, etymology, literature, reading speed, etc) on the way to stating the real reason reform is impossible:

'Anglophone nations are too lazy, ignorant, and superstitious; even if u were world dictator, u'd never get them to co-operate on a project that involved this much work and was this insulting to all their ludicrous national traditions.

Americans think any attack on their honor is un-American, Brits are stuck in the Middle Ages, and Australians of course think literacy's for poofs.... Besides, none of them can think straight about fonological issues, largely because their brains are hopelessly clogged with Anglo-Norman delusions'

To the argument that reform would rewrite 'Do you want to?' as dzhawonnuh?, Rye responds, 'Who said anything about a fonetic system? All we need is one that's roughly grafemic ('one reading per grafeme') and preferably fonemic ('one spelling per foneme) and/or morfemic ('one spelling per morfeme').'

He concludes: 'The flaws of the standard orthografy are indefensible - but it has an extensive installed user base, and can thus afford to ignore criticism in exactly the same manner as Fahrenheit thermometers, QWERTY keyboards, and certain software packages, which can all rely on conformism, short-termism, and sheer laziness for their continued survival.'

Alfabet of redundancy.

Alnost every letter in the alfabet is irrelevant to pronunciation in at least one word. Almost every letter is absent from pronunciation guide spelling in some word. A partial listing is below: Also check the Cut Spelling Handbook and the Journal of the SSS.

A in hed: head, dead, and lead should be the same as fed. The a was once a schwa sound: heh-uhd.

B in dout and bomb: doubt should be the same as about, loud, snout; bomb should be the same as mom.


From a slide shown by a senior consultant at a high powered conference about university student funding: 'Students and they're expectations'.

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On other pages: part 1, part 2, part 4 (Supplement).