SS16. On other pages: part 1, part 3, part 4 (Supplement).

simpl speling November 2001 part 2.


Invitation to view Interglish.

We wish to make Interglish known to any interested members of the Simplified Spelling Society. It is not available as a Personal View, but is available on the internet at

Those members who wish to review Interglish, but do not have a computer, may have a relative or frend who will let them see it on the web. In the USA, many libraries have computers with internet availability for the public to use.

For those who already know English, the ability to be able to spell correctly is very easy to learn with Interglish spelling. The conversion has one main rule, and there is a total of only 21 new things to remember, including the fonemes which may have different spellings than the traditional English fonemes. These Interglish rules have very few exceptions. Many words are the same in traditional English spelling and Interglish.

Interglish does employ one special character, but this character is readily available on your keyboard, and it is no harder to reach this key than it is to reach the letter a.

Interglish has recently been updated, so anyone who has previously seen Interglish may wish to view it again.

We thank the people who have made comments regarding Interglish. We especially wish to thank Dr Mark Newbrook, a British linguist, for his help and comments.

Paul Duerr, USA. [See submission item.]

Some littil matters.

What do anvil, April, Cecil, council, Cyril, fulfil, peril, pupil and until have in common? Simple: they all are words of two syllables ending in -il. So how about simple itself - simpil?

Now that we are in the 21st century, perhaps this is the ideal time to update the name of our Society's newsletter: could it be renamed Simpil Speling?

I am proposing capital initials - that Simpil Speling be the newsletter and simpil speling be what we advocate.

Another littil matter, in response to Robert Craig's latest letter: '...there would need to be a decision between the shedule and skedule pronunciations' - surely it can be either? It just depends on what school you went to.

Chris Kiwi. New Zealand. [See Newsletters .]

Getting ongoing dialog started.

I think taking public surveys about spelling, as mentioned at the AGM (SSJune01), might be the best activity for the SSS to focus on over the next several years.

Not only will such surveys start to give us an idea of what kinds of reforms the general public might want, but, as noted at the AGM, surveys can also raise public awareness.

I find that not many people think about reforming spelling unless somehow made aware.

So imagine 100 or more people who get fone calls one evening with questions about the irregularity of English spelling and the difficulties this can cause.

After the call some will likely discuss it with others in their household. Then the next day those people go to work, school, etc, and some will discuss this with others there.

One survey might not have too much lasting effect, but if we could conduct such surveys on a recurring basis, we might get some real, ongoing dialog started among the general public.

Cornell Kimball, USA. [See Journals, Newsletters.]

Revolutionary approach, subversive movement, acts of violence?

The question must have often occurred to us that reform is not happening, in spite of its being urgent, logical (in spelling) and obvious. Why?

I think it is because spelling is a means of keeping provincials and proles in their place. Like the exam system in China, one can rise to power or welth by passing lots of meaningless tests, and the first of these is spelling. A special writing, a special language has always been used to protect and perpetuate elites thruout the world. Tell someone who has spent half their childhood teaming the absurdities of English spelling and they will turn on u savagely, because u are denying them even their first rung of advancement.

I therefore suggest a revolutionary approach. We should form a subversive movement dedicated to the overthrow of the current spelling system and should perform systematic acts of violence on it by writing to each other first of all using the basic reforms about which we all agree. We should use these also in writing to frends and relatives and in the SSS publications. To arms! Let us form a pen-pal club! Any takers?

Peter Gilet, Australia. [See Newsletters.]

The state of Danish.

I was puzzled to read (SSJune01) conflicting statements regarding the modernization of the Danish spelling system. Masha Bell's article states that no serious attempt at modernization has taken place. Jean Wilkinson lists Danish among the writing systems that have been modernized in the 20th century.

I went straight to the Danes to discover the truth of the matter. The Danish Embassy in Canada referred me to Dansk Sprognaevn, the Danish Literacy Council. My email to the council received a prompt reply in Danish, of which I know not a word. With the help of a German-speaking frend and an online Danish dictionary, I decifered the email.They wanted my mailing address and telefone number. Upon furnishing the same, I received, in English, a reply to my query. It is signed by Soren Beltoft.

The gist of the reply is as follows: The writer who states that 'neither England nor Denmark has made a serious attempt to modernize its ... spelling system' is closest to the truth. There is a notorious lack of correspondence between written and spoken forms, as is the case with English.

Mr Beltoft also lists three changes that were made in 1948: Capital letters for nouns; the abolition of double a; and a simplification of the words for could, would, and should.

I would be glad to forward the Danish email to anyone wishing to read the full text.

Isobel Raven (Mrs), Canada. [See Journals, Newsletters.]

Submission excerpts sent to Gates Foundation.

Excerpts of the Society's submission to the New Zealand parliamentary Select Committee on Education and Science (JSSS28) have been sent to Dr Paige, the US Secretary of Education, and Mr Gates Snr (father of Bill Gates), head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is concerned about betterment in helth and education.

SSS member Paul Duerr, USA, the sender, comments:
'I closed each letter with a repeat of the statement: "Future generations will thank us".'

[Ed Rondthaler: see Journals, Newsletters, Personal View 8, Anthology, Bulletins, Web link to ALC.]

Logical spelling not impossible for readers.

Edward Rondthaler, USA.

It is clear, in Personal View 13, that Masha Bell has done her homework - a worthy contribution to the cause by one whose zeal for reform is a model for all. Her research reflects, on a smaller scale, the thoroness found in Godfrey Dewey's Relative Frequencies of English Spelling, published by Columbia University in 1970. Her conclusions, however, would disappoint Dr Dewey.

It has long been recognized that while present readers are annoyed at reading an illogical spelling, they rarely find it impossible. But when present writers are called on to write an unfamiliar spelling - ah! There's the rub! They find it intolerable.

Ms Bell seems to take it for granted that any change in our spelling must be implemented in the same way as previous reforms in other languages - with the burden of change borne by the writer. So her softening of the impact on writers is certainly in order.

But this is the 21st century. Today the burden of change will be lifted from the shoulders of the writer by our new writing tool - the unemotional, methodical, mechanical computer. Computers can be made to transliterate into a logical spelling whatever is typed in TO. In 2001 that is a given.

Our concern, then, should focus on a spelling that is easily read - easily read - and, on a wider reach, has good lingua franca potential. For children and other learners, it must be so closely related to the sounds of speech there need be few rules.

What notation comes close to meeting this criterion? We will search hard and long to find anything better than that first proposed in 1910, published as a dictionary of 18,000 words by Walter Ripman in 1941, used in principle by Pitman in ITA, by Godfrey Dewey in WES, changed little by the revisions of NS90, and expanded to a dictionary of 44,000 words by the American Literacy Council. The key to this notation places the e-marker for long vowels immediately after the vowel - ae ee ie oe ue - rather than, as in TO, having the marker leapfrogged beyond a consonant. Except for ee, this is a radical change. But is it not a change that can be grasped readily by the reader? Does not automatic computer transliteration make it unnecessary to beat around the bush with little snippets of change?

The answer to those questions seems to be Yes. Over the years we have conducted tests by explaining the ae ee ie oe ue principle to scores of different people, then asking them to read aloud, often before an audience, an unfamiliar page spelled in that logical manner. In no case has any difficulty in reading been experienced after the first two or three lines. It appears that when the long vowels are taken care of in this systematic, straitforward but seemingly radical way, other spelling changes - even the infrequent uu in wuud, guud, etc - become clear enuff, thanks in part to context, not to cause reader confusion.

The net result of this is that present writers wishing to simplify their spelling will let the computer bear the burden until they feel comfortable writing the logical notation.

The task of introducing a simpler spelling is thus reduced to having a notation matching speech well enuff to be learned easily by children and foreigners, and not asking too much of present readers.

As we come to expect words to be written as they sound, we may well begin to voice our schwas with less of a neutral u-sound and more of a sound in keeping with their spelling. Clarity of communication will be gained by so doing. Susan Anthony in her book of instructions for teachers points out again and again the importance of what she calls 'overpronunciation'. Ideal speech should be as clear to the ear as written words are to the eye, and a spelling that reliably represents sound should be helpful in encouraging such distinct, careful speech. We will have better communication if pencil is not pronounced pensul, lemon is not lemun, and author is not auther - or its disturbing derivative: autherity. Foreigners learning English would be helped greatly if we diluted our unstressed vowels less.

Mario Pei, in his authoritative book History of the English Language, points out that British speech has a far greater tendency to dilute and even elide unstressed short vowels than does American.

But good signs are emerging. Pronunciations in the current Oxford American Dictionary represent the unstressed short vowel not with an indefinite and noncommittal inverted e, but with a return to the earlier practise of placing a diluting breve above the short vowel.

And in the sacrosanct towers of British broadcasting, Philip Hayton, the anchor for BBC World News and undoubtedly a model for British speech today, not only does not elide the schwas, but tends to pronounce them with a hint of their written form.

It may be an audacious comparison, but perhaps the time will come when we see the 1910 concept of ae ee ie oe ue was as effective in giving us full literacy - and in giving humanity a lingua franca - as was the Arabic concept of zero in giving the world a rational mathematics.

This is 2001.

Back to the top.
On other pages: part 1, part 3, part 4 (Supplement).