We Ar The Living

Why Change English Spelling?

The folloing facts ar disturbing evidence that sumthing needs to be dun about the way the English language is ritten. English spelling is identifyed as a cheef culprit.

  • English spelling is too dificult for moast peeple. Eeven after 11 years at school barely haf ov all English speakers becum confident spellers. English is full of unredictable, irregularly speld words wich must be individualy memorized at grait cost in time spent.
  • Italian children can spel accuratly after just 2 years at scool. Italy has only haf as meny dislexics as UK. Unlike English, Italian spelling is very regular. Other european nations hav all updated their spellings to make them mor regular. English has never been regularized.
  • Around 7 million British adults and 40 million US adults ar functionaly illiterat, i.e about 10%...& rising.
  • The dificulty in English shoes up not only in rit ing the language but also in reading it. English speaking adults always cum near the bottom in international studdys on reading comprehension.


Thare ar basicly six arguments given by those who opose the updating of English spelling. They wish to retain the traditional spelling [“TS”] as it is, with its inconsistencys, on one or mor of the folloing grounds:

1) The etimological argument (the spelling makes it easier to identify the word's origin)

2) The dissiplin argument (memorizing hundreds of irregular spellings is good for children)

3) The eleetist argument (I can spell and you can't- hahaha!)

4) The caos argument (changing the spelling system wud just caus mor confusion; - esp. it wud be very “hard for me to change” to a new way of spelling)

5) The esthetic argument (the extra letters make the words look nicer)

6) The cost argument (all the old books wud hav to be republishd in the new sistem, wich wud cost too much)

7) The “my job” argument (I make my living teaching remeedial TS & if it wer made easy it mite cost me my job)

1) The etimological argument. This is unjustified. Only linguists and other specialists nowadays need or want to care about the origin of words. How meny peeple today kno enuf latin to cherish the original / filius=son/ meaning of the word / filial /? And wy shud they, since i t ’s likely to be mixd up with the greek word philos-, originaly meaning luvver, or offen gay luvver?

Also in meny cases the current spelling distorts the root word. If the word "dungeon" was spelled "dunjin" wud it be easier or harder to tel that the word originates from the Middle French word "donjon"?

2) The dissiplin argument doesn' t hold up very well either. Isn' t one ov the main purposes ov education to teach children how to think? But in order to spel today’s TS, logic and consistency must be tossd aside. Meny boys rebel agenst this senseless drudgery, they leav scool in anger, & they gro up as non-readers, with a lak of respect - based on their scool expeerience - for wot adults think is “ rite”.

3) The eleetist argument is the domain of class-concius types who seek to gain & maintain hy status in society by master ing a spelling code wich is very dificult to lern, cannot be reasond to & in most cases cannot be lernd by foreners or the children of illiterat parents. Is this fair? We spelling reformers think not.

4) The caos argument. Adults scoold in the old way cud indeed expect to hav sum trubble adjust ing to a new sistem. A modrat change, such as u ar reading now, has an advantage over mor radical change, in that it is easy to read. A little loosening of the rules wud also help, permitting varius plausible ways of riting the vowls... ee or ea for the “ee” ’ sound, for example. This mercy, along with the removal of superfluus letters that make no sense in today’s workaday world, wud reduce the danger to an individual of being marginalized as a “poor speller”. This is the way things wer in Shakespeare’s time, mor permissiv. 40 million American adults can' t read a newspaper or the words on a prescription, or fil out an aplication. Spelling revision is needed!

5) The esthetic argument is subjectiv. Spellings have changed meny times over the years. At wot point in history did the words aquire just the rite number of extra letters? Wot ’s butiful about an irrational , never edited hodgepodge? Much of the so-calld buty about the spelling itself actualy amounts to fassionable leftovers, such as redundant final e, from the conquest of England by the Norman French in 1066.

6) The cost argument. As to reprinting the old books, that is not dificult nowadays, & printers wud not suffer doing it - they wud make munny.

7) The “my job”argument. It’s tru thare wud be less need for remeedial reading teachers, spel checkers & spelling bees. But the transition to new spelling cud employ thees same peeple in guiding the transition, for example teaching children & foreners to read a dictionary code, & to transit from the whole-word lerning method, wich did not prove successful, to the original & now improved fonics aproach, wich works wel.

If yu're stil not convinced, heer ar sum mor reasons to simplify spelling:

1.Simplifyd spelling wud graitly reduce illiteracy, wich in turn wud lower crime and unemployment .

2. The cost of continuing to liv with our outdated spelling is estimated to be in the meny millions of dollars annualy:

a) remeedial education

b) time spent in training & in correcting errors in the worlds of bisness & publishing, [spelcheckers ar ofn rong]

c) loss of otherwise employable but spelling-challenged applicants

d) medical errors

e) cost of crime & of running the groing prison sistem.

3. A simplifyd spelling sistem wud free up mor time to teach other subjects in school .

4. Simplifying English spelling wud make it easier to teach as a foren language. English is in an exelent posicion to be a universal language.

It has:

a) a large number of nat iv speakers

b) a welth ov litrature and other meedia

c) simpler grammar than meny other languages

d) uses the lat in alfabet, the world's moast widespred riting sistem.

For more information see

www.spellingsociety.org [an international group]

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