[Simplified Spelling Society Newsletter Autumn 1985 pp1,2. Later designated Journal 1]

Founded in 1908, the Simplified Spelling Society has included among its officers Daniel Jones, Horace King, Gilbert Murray, William Temple, H.G.Wells. Its stated aim is to "bring about a reform of the spelling of English in the interests of ease of learning and economy of writing".
The Society's present officers are:
President: Professor John Downing. Chairman: Chris Jolly.
Secretary: Stanley Gibbs. Treasurer: Laurence Fennelly.
Public Relations Officer: Mona Cross. Enquiries to the Secretary.

The Simplified Spelling Society Newsletter has Spring, Summer and Autumn issues. The editor is Christopher Upward.

[See Journal and Newsletter articles, Pamflet 15, Cut Spelling and Papers by Chris Upward.]


Chris Upward.


The two main features of this Newsletter form an alliterative pair: the Cover and the Conference. The Conference of course takes pride of place, but it is worth saying in passing that the cover is more than just a mass of small print - as is explained at the end of the editorial.


This Newsletter, as the Conference number, contains only papers presented at the Society's Fourth International Conference, held in Connaught Hall at Southampton University from Friday 26 July to Sunday 28 July 1985. Even so, lack of space prevents publication of a full record of the proceedings in this one issue.

Several items from the Conference have regrettably been compressed or deferred - Professor Edgar Gregersen's valuable address on morphological considerations in spelling reform with particular reference to Chomsky's views; papers by Dr Moseley, Dr Damper and Valerie Yule (which appear as abstracts); and some written submissions from overseas, most notably from Australia with a taped accompaniment from Gary Jimmieson of the Spelling Action Society, and from Madhukar N.Gogate, Director of Roman Lipi Parishad in India. The next issue hopes to make amends to those neglected this time.

The Conference had two dominant themes. Firstly, a number of contributors dealt with the use of the computer in orthography, whether to manipulate the spelling of text, or to teach spelling to learners. But secondly the opening address and several later papers discussed the introduction of spelling reform by stages, without losing intelligibility for adults, and using the potential of the present alphabet to make phonemic distinctions obscured by t.o. The design of orthographic stages is of course also a major task of the Society's present Working Party.


As well as catching up on Conference papers, in the next Newsletter it is planned to include the talk given by Professor Frank Knowles on 12 October 1985, on the relevance of Information Theory to the design of orthographies, and the second article in a series by David Stark, which the Conference squeezed out of this issue.


Professor A.C Gimson, late Vice-President of the Society, is remembered by Herr Schmitz-op der Beck: "I shall always remember him as the man whose smile promised support for 'starters and openers'; one BBC gentleman praised him as 'a professor and a clown', by which he meant the amusing presentation to a foreign audience of how usage can influence the sense/sound relationship without anyone really trying to listen! ... How we shall miss that quality stamp of his!"

Tributes to Mona Cross for her work as previous editor of the Newsletter have come from Richard Lung, who writes: "Miss Cross has done more than anyone else in the past 10 years to revive the SSS from its lowest ebb, first with the conferences she started and then the newsletters... I reassure her of my appreciation of her outstanding qualities"; and from Valerie Yule: "Mona... has made a magnificent contribution to SSS".


At first sight, the small print on the new cover may appear just as background to the title. However it also offers ammunition for the spelling-reform cause, being a catalogue of nearly 3,000 words illustrating the plethora of frequently inconsistent spelling patterns in t.o. Though comprehensive, one could hardly expect it to be exhaustive, and readers are invited to write in if they discover patterns, or single words with particularly aberrant spellings, that are not covered. It will be noticed that some words occur more than once because they represent more than one inconsistency (e.g. knowledge ).

The overall arrangement is alphabetic, with A on the front at the top, and Z on the back at the bottom. But within most letters, especially vowels, there are subdivisions. Thus letter A begins with 15 word-groups, demarcated by a comma, each listing different uses of A for the same phoneme. A semi-colon separates these 15 groups from the next 13 groups, each of which lists different pronunciations for the same graphotactic use of A. A semicolon in turn separates these 13 groups from a list of words containing A linked by a slash (/) to phonemically similar words without A. The other vowel-letters are similarly analysed, but consonants are mostly simpler and classifiable in rather more obvious ways.

[See the cover text in Pamflet 15.]

Dates to Note.

25 January 1986.

 10.30-14.30, London. Dr J.C. Wells of the Department of Phonetics and Linguistics at University College London, and author of Accents of English, will address the Society on the subject 'English Accents and their implications for spelling reform'.

14-16 April 1986.

 Linguistics Association of Great Britain, Spring Meeting, University of East Anglia: Educational Linguistics Section to discuss "English spelling".

24-26 July 1987.

  Fifth International Conference of Simplified Spelling Society, Aston University, Birmingham; suggestions for themes, papers, participants, etc. to SSS chairman or editor of Newsletter.

Back to the top.