SS8. 8pp. On other pages: part 1, part 3, part 4 (Supplement).
[Allan Campbell: see Journals, Newsletters, Media, Spell 4 Literacy NZ.]

simpl speling March 1999 part 2.


Another milestile.

Enclosed with members' copies of this Issue of Simpl Speling is a voting form that marks a milestone in the Society's history.

We are being asked by the committee to give it a lead in deciding which path we should be taking in our campaign for change.

Until now, the committee itself has made such decisions, our only constitutional input being to elect its members and then only if at the AGM in London.

This new approach is welcome and timely.

It gives us non-southern England members a chance to be part of the decision making. In this age of electronic communication, having the decisions made by only a few attending a meeting in London becomes more difficult to justify.

Our late secretary, Bob Brown. foresaw the time when we would be an electronic society doing most of our work on the net. Trends supporting this contention are here now.

Almost half of our members have access to email. The emailing group discusses matters as they arise: no waiting three months to meet, four months for Simpl Speling, or six for the Journal.

The time may come sooner than we think when the committee will become a smaller executive (and secretariat?) charged with
1) implementing decisions made by the membership,
2) housekeeping,
3) sorting out organizational problems.
Allan Campbell, NZ

We welcome letters.

Signed letters, preferably but not necessarily deling with matters raised in Simpl Speling, are invited. Brevity (up to 250 words) and promptness (email or fax acceptable) increase chances of publication. Except where pertinenet to the subject, spelling wil be altered to conform with SS style. Unless requested not to, we publish writers' addresses to encourage networking among readers.


Benefits of suggested spellings should seem self-evident.

When we go public about changing, I think we should say as little as possible about justifying changing. We should write as if the script and benefits were self-evident.

Everyone sees things slightly differently. Persons may favor or oppose changing because they expect the changing to play out different ways.

Disagreements muddy the water we ask everyone to drink, so we want to avoid arguing with anyone.

I want persons to buy my whisky. I don't much care if they put it in their bellies or in their cakes or behind their ears or strip paint with it. But I do not want the paintstrippers to discourage the cooks and drinkers or vice versa.

Nelson Helm, KY, USA. [See Newsletters .]

K-a-t DOES spell cat!

Picture of a cat.
[Editor's note: Editing of Frank's letter in November Simpl Speling led to his main point being missed. It is explained here.]

If someone writes kat one could respond that k-a-t does not spell anything, does not spell dog, or does not spell rat. But no one ever does say dog or rat: they always say 'k-a-t does not spell cat'. Why? Because k-a-t DOES spell cat. They have just read k-a-t as cat. Their statement confirms that k-a-t spells cat.

As a teacher of computing for some years I frequently wrote down lists of unrelated words to be entered into a database to be sorted. I would always include a few like fone, kof, nee, and I was always told they do not spell phone, cough, or knee, thus proving that they do!

Frank Jones. England. [See Newsletters .]

Reform strategy is needed.

What is required is a strategy for reform. Valerie Yule's International Spelling Day is spot on.

The first part of the strategy should be acceptance from the educational establishment of the so-called 'American' spellings as being 'correct'.

It is a myth that spelling reformers cannot agree about anything.

What they do not agree about is everything. No reformer would keep w in write, or first k in knock.

1. Drop initial letters such as w in write, and replace them by an apostrophe for the transition period; eg, know > 'now to save confusion with now.

2. Let there be only one consonant after a schwa vowel (most of George Lahey's list has words with that pattern): afect, colect, asail, atempt, comittee, etc. A list of the type he is compiling should be part of the strategy.

3. Cut e after n in doctrine etc, but not after v, yet.

4. Replace initial ph only by f, so as to avoid questions about whether it should be fotograffing or fotografing, saffire, sapfire, etc.

5. If U're brave, replace initial c by k, initial only for the same reason as above.

6. Write to, do, true, through as tu, du, tru, thru (cf, so, no, Jo, Flo, etc).

7. Write coud (or koud), shoud, woud, breik, greit, steik.

Robert Craig, England. [See Journals, Newsletters.]

[Editor's note: Masha Bell's recent letter in The Express (London) drew a response from a Nigel Kidd, who deplored greater difficulty of distinguishing meaning between homonyms. This led to SSS member John Gledhill sending this letter, which was published.]

Leaving no room for confusion!

Sir - Nigel Kidd is quite correct in saying that if we simplified spelling 'we would have no way of distinguishing between the meaning of words such as meet and meat'. Yes, I often confuse them. You should also add the word mete.

So Mr Kidd is quite right. Or do I mean write? Or rite? Or wright?

Oh dear, right is ambiguous too - 'not left' or 'not wrong ', so perhaps we also need wreight as in height)?

Oops, there's also right as in 'privilege', so we also need, erm, reight?

And what about the extreme right wing of the Conservatives - perhaps wraight? And I think we need another spelling for rights as in the skull and antlers of a dead stag - perhaps wreaights?

Yes Mr Kidd, you are right, rite, write, wright, reight, wreight, wreaight. That will make it so much easier to teach children to read.

I think.

John Gledhill (Dr), England. [See Journals, Newsletters, Media.]

An agreed style for SSS publications?

Since joining the SSS I have received many of its publications, each with many interesting articles. Most have painted pictures of how terrible English spelling is. However, there has always been something missing for me. This is some kind of SSS spelling reform progress report.

In an ideal world each issue of Simpl Speling would use the same spelling; spelling that members had agreed was optimum. Every word would be an example of how sensible spelling could be and no member would be disillusioned by one doubtful word of reform spelling.

Thiss would mean that for some special moments each member would experience the wonderful world of sensible spelling, the world that one day we hope all users of English spelling will experience.

However, as this cannot be achieved overnight may I suggest we could work towards it by printing in every issue of SSS publications:

1. Principles that have been agreed.
2. Classes and examples of word changes that have been agreed for a full spelling reform.
3. Classes and examples of word changes that have been agreed for the initial spelling reform.

As far as I know the following principles have been agreed so far by the email group:

1. Proper names to be left unchanged.
2. Only the 26 letters of the alphabet to be used.
3. No diacritics to be used to spell words.

A sample of how word examples could look is:

<f> for /f/
surplus <e> endings
silent letters
consistent <i> ... <e>
consistent <o> ... <e>
consistent <oo>
alphabet alfabet, elephant elefant, phase fase
are ar, before befor, give giv
every evry, friend frend, school scool
might mite, night nite, right rite
road rode, load lode, toad tode
could cood, should shood, would wood

Giving classes and three examples is pragmatic, not occupying too much space but highlighting the principles involved.

I suggest only the agreed initial reform spelling vocabulary should be used in SSS publications.

Further principles and vocabularies could be developed by giving members opportunities to vote for them in each issue of SSS publications so that gradually we would approach the ideal world mentioned above.

Ron Footer. England. [See Newsletters .]

Time on spelling tedium 'amazing'.

I found your SSS website and I must agree that your program is very important as spelling reform is sorely needed.

I have lived in Indonesia for 13 years (I am an American, my wife is Indonesian), and our two American children go to Indonesian schools. The Indonesian language is extremely fonetic in orthography and very consistent. My daughters learned to read very quickly. The time wasted on tedious spelling lessons in English-language schools is utterly amazing.

I applaud your efforts, altho some critics must think it is insane and an impossible battle. Good luck.

Raymond Weisling. Indonesia.

Net chat.

Excerpts from a few of the posts in the SSS internet discussion groups.
A pun on the word 'net'.

Newspapers (May).

Newspaper editors are always incredibly busy and have a planning horizon of a few days. Every political party, charity and pressure group is trying to persuade them to support their cause.

Newspaper proprietors are different. They can devote time to constrictive proposals, they have a planning horizon of years, and they know newspaper sales rely on literacy rates. Proprietors are the ones to persuade. It is not necessary to find and contact the owner of every title. There is usually a trade association.

If the trade associations could be persuaded to support a reform, the industry as a whole will support it. But they will only be persuaded by a clear-cut and concrete proposal. For example, at 0000 hours on January 1 .... these words .... will cease to be so spelt, and will then be spelt ....

Damian Bonsall. England. [See Newsletters .]

Simplifying English grammar (Aug).

After the Norman Conquest in 1066, when the ruling class spoke Norman-French and the clerics used Latin, these were the official written languages. The peasant English underclass was illiterate. Literacy was still taught in Norman French in schools until around the 14th century, when the Black Deth caused a shortage of competent teachers. The common people had continued to speak English and as they were not interested in inflections and complicated grammar, and there was no written English to maintain it, only the most common verbs kept up their irregular conjugations.

Meanwhile, the vernacular English was taking over as the spoken language of the upper classes as well, and they did not pick up the complex Anglo-Saxon grammar either. So when after the Black Deth they had to admit teachers who could not speak French and taught in English, spoken English had now been scoured rather clean.

So it was not one enlightened individual who simplified English grammar - altho writers like Chaucer, who made writing in the vernacular respectable again, did not dredge back the old grammar.

Valerie Yule. Australia. [See Journals, Newsletters, Media, Personal View Anthology, Bulletins, Web links.]

Micro-reform (May)

Seeing slang as a signpost pointing in the direction the language wants to go seems a strong argument. One of the reasons for me dropping the e of ve (hav) is the precedent of spiv. Clearly the idea that v must be followed by e is a dead convention.

David Barnsdale. England. [See Newsletter, Web links.]

Millennium prospects (Oct).

Matters were quite different during the last fin de siécle. In 1900, making spelling more consistent had been an obvious good among right-thinking people in the English-speaking world for at least 20 years. Standard dictionaries printed appendices of suggested respellings.

John Reilly. USA. [See Journals, Web links.]

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