SS17. 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 March 2002 part 1.

Editor: Alan Campbell.

Final issue?

With the publication of this issue Allan Campbell resigns as editor of Simpl Speling.

At publication date no replacement had come forward. (Anyone interested should contact Chris Jolly.)

It is therefore likely this is the final issue of Simpl Speling.

Planning to attend US spelling bee.

In a move new in the Society's history, some United States members, along with representatives from the American Literacy Council (ALC), are likely to attend the 75th annual National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, on May 29 and 30.

ALC members plan to be active. SSS members will probably only observe this year, and consider action for next year.

Committee member Elizabeth Kuizenga, US representative Alan Mole, Tim Travis, and Pete Boardman expect to be there. Other SSS members who would like to meet colleagues at the event should contact Elizabeth.

The National Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, is a well established US event, and usually has good media coverage.

While many see the spelling bee as an affirmation of spelling as an important educational project, others, including some past participants, think it glorifies an illogical spelling structure.

Resignation after 20 years as chair.

Chris Jolly has announced that he is to step down from the position of chair of the Society. At the new year he issued the following statement:

'I have been chairman of the SSS for just over 20 years now, and I think it is time for a change. As a result I have decided not to stand for re-election at the next AGM in April. However, I will be willing to continue as a member of the committee, if re-elected.

'At the time that I took on this role there were only three active committee members (Stanley Gibbs, Mona Cross and myself), no emails but the occasional letter, and a homely newsletter from Mona.

'Time has moved on and we are a much more active society now. There are more of us on the committee, with a wider range of experience, and many who are overseas who play an active part. I look forward with confidence to our finding a new chair who has new ideas and energy to take the Society forward.'

See: Reflections of the outgoing chairman.


The Annual General Meeting
of the Simplified Spelling Society will be held at
10:45am, Saturday, April 27, 2002.

Guest speaker - Richard Wade:
and the world vote to elekt new standard spelings.

A committee meeting, open to all members will follow.
All members are invited to attend.

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

Finland tops OECD survey of 15-year-olds' reading ability.

Finland, on its own, was top literacy nation in the results of the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), published in December. It was also the one with the smallest gap between top and bottom achievers.

The study looked at the reading, maths, and science standards of a quarter of a million 15-year-old hi school students in 32 countries. Finland, 546 points, was followed in the reading section by Canada (534), New Zealand (529), Australia (528), Ireland (527), and then followed Korea, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, and Austria. The United States was 15th. In the Canadian score, Alberta topped Finland's tally at 550.

Politicians and educators in the top-scoring countries raved about their placings, particularly in the UK and New Zealand, where other recent surveys have returned poor results for learners and adults. But the US Secretary of Education did not mince his words: 'An average score is not good enuff!'

Other critics saw the downside. For example, in New Zealand, one critic noted that 20% were in the top bracket, and this above-average achievement dragged the country's placing up from what it might have been because of its large tail: 8% of girls and 18% of boys in the bottom bracket.

Some suggested a country's performance should be judged on how well its lowest achievers did. Korea had 90% of its students in the middle levels, compared with 66% in New Zealand.

It was noticeable that English-speaking nations, with the notable exception of the US, scored well. Some put this down to effective teaching and remedial work.

Peter Gzowski, literacy advocate.

Peter Gzowski, 67, a nationally known and well-loved Canadian broadcaster and writer, died in Toronto in January.

He was the host for many years of a nationwide broadcast called Morningside. He had a deep interest in all things Canadian, from 'sea to sea to sea', and he gathered his audience into a community of shared information, concerns, and humor.

One of his passions was literacy, aroused when he interviewed a representative of Frontier College, a Toronto-based school for latecomers to literacy. In 1986 he founded the Peter Gzowski Invitational golf tournament (PGI) to raise money for adult literacy programs. His original goal was to raise a million dollars for literacy. PGIs are now held all over the country. They have raised more than $6.5 million.

Isobel Raven, Canada. See Journals, Newsletters.]


In history

110 years ago: 1892. The Modern Language Association endorsed reform ideas of the Spelling Reform Association. A bill was introduced into the US Congress to establish an experimental program teaching children to spell using simplified spelling. 100 years ago: 1902 Melvil Dewey first discussed spelling reform with Andrew Carnegie.

All truth passes thru three stages. First, it is ridiculed. It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in being self-evident.

- Arthur Schopenhauer, pioneer German philosofer.

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.

- Samuel Adams, US statesman.

[Jean Hutchins: see Journals, Newsletters.]

What one member has been doing.

Sowing the seed with special educational needs people.

Jean Hutchins, England.

I belong to several SEN (Special Educational Needs) and dyslexia emailing discussion forums. Dyslexia forum has about 400 members and senco-forum about 900 who are all education professionals. I am well-known and respected as a spokesperson for the British Dyslexia Association, as a retired specialist dyslexia teacher, and as an ex-BDA computer committee member re software, etc, for dyslexics.

It would not be suitable for me to send unsolicited messages advocating spelling reform, so I have looked for opportunities to mention it in responses to discussion. It has seemed to be seed sown on stony ground, but now and then a shoot grows!

There was a flurry of interest in year 2000, which resulted in one short-lived new SSS membership. One adult dyslexic wrote, 'I really dislike the spellings that sound the same but are spelt differently, eg, sum and some, or the spellings that are spelt the same but pronounced differently, like read and read, why not read and red? I would really like it if we did write it the way we say it; it would make life so much the easier. My dad always said it was not his spelling that was the problem, it was the English language.'

Another wrote, 'Don't believe in spelling reforms. Would it not be better if we all spelt as we felt; after all, we speak in different dialects and accents, with some degree of mutual intelligibility. So why not drop this pedantry altogether, there is no natural correct spelling any more than there is correct universal pronunciation.'

Members brought up ITA and German spelling reform, the well-known spoof about a European Union ruling, Shaw's ghoti, etc. Questions about US spellings in spellcheckers and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority recommendation for standard science spellings (which just happened to be US spellings) gave me another opportunity to mention SSS. And so did the Italian research showing irregularly spelt literacy was harder for children to learn.

Then last October, there was a little break-thru. Out of the blue, a senco-forum member wrote, 'I know it's a correct spelling, but until I saw hiccough, it hadn't dawned on me that -ough can make the sound 'up'. Now if that isn't ammunition for Jean and the Simplified Spelling Society, I don't knew what is. With that clue, I offered chaitschough as a poor man's ghoti-word. What does it say and why/how?' (Someone else suggested tiardo.) (*Answers below.)

The writer thought up all the pros and cons and was absolutely amazed when he went to SSS web, read items and followed links and discovered the welth of ideas. 'I never cease to marvel at the depth and breadth of my own ignorance. Altho ITA rang a distant bell, I didn't know quite what it was. But I do now. I've also been introduced to: Saundspel, the Phonology Forum; Truespel; AKSES; the Index to Applied Grapho-Phonology; RES (Restored English Spelling); TO (Traditional Orthography); New Spelling (Ellis, 1932); SAMPA (Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet); ESP (English Spelling Priorities); RITE (Reduced Irregularities in Traditional English spelling); and Unifon ('an augmented-alfubet reform group').

'A whole new world awaits me. Sorry for wasting good email space, suggesting that this was somehow a novel idea, when loads of people already do as I was suggesting. On the other hand, having discovered that there are multiple systems, media, methods, orthographies and approaches to simplified spelling, I can see why change hasn't swept across the nation. I'm sure we need a commission....'

Another member wrote, 'All I'm suggesting is that, when peeple rite, they allter spellings if they so wish. They can be torking on enny subject (this is harder than u think!)'. I have been the only one to take up her suggestion, simplifying a few words in most of the messages that I send, not enuff to offend, maybe not enuff for them to notice as there has been no response (or maybe they just think I am getting dyslexic in my old age).

Altho predominantly UK, senco-forum has international members. 'In The Netherlands we regularly simplify spelling each, say, 50 years. The effect is insecurity among all spellers.... And indeed: with Dutch spelling there are only two countries involved.'

The cream was when an absentee returned to the forum, asked what he had missed, and was told, 'Oh, and another strand has been talking about making spelling easier and more logical. Don't these people realize that this would lead to 50% redundancy within our collective ranks?'

The thread had already died by then. It is about time I had another go!

* chaitschough = ketchup: ch = k, as in chemist, ai as in said, tsch = ch, as in kitsch; ough = up.
* tiardo = shudder: ti = sh, as in station; ard = udd, as in standard-, o = er, as in mother.

Back to the top.
On other pages: part 2, part 3, part 4 (Supplement).