Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, J30, 2002/1 pp17-23.
[Cornell Kimball: see Journals, Newsletters.]

Spelling Reform: A Bibliography of Resources.

Cornell Kimball is an erstwhile transportation engineer who does computer support and troubleshooting for the highway department in California. He has been interested in language for decades. His detailed look into the workings of the English language led him to an interest in spelling reform.


This is a bibliografy of articles, correspondence and editorials from the publications of the Simplified Spelling society (SSS) and a few related sources. They deal with strategies for promoting reform, ascertaining popular reaction to reformed spellings, and with spelling reform in languages other than English. This list, a few websites included, is broken down by subject. Short quotes are given from some articles. The total listing includes items from the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society (JSSS), the Society's Newsletter, and Simpl Speling, as well as from a publication called the Spelling Progress Bulletin (later the Spelling Progress Quarterly). It is rounded out with [a link to a page with] a few websites run by SSS members.


Strategy: Promoting Idea of Spelling Reform.
Taking The Public Pulse: Popular Reaction to Reformed Spellings.
Spelling Reform in Other Languages.
Further Ideas to Consider in Planning.
More Ideas: Reviews of Books and Other Writings.
Lobbying Literacy Policy Makers In Britain.
Calls for an International English Spelling Summit.
How to Get the Media and Other Institutions to Use Simpler Spellings.
The Initial Teaching Alphabet.
An Application of a Small Set of Reformed Spellings in a Publication.
Changes on Limited Scale.
Common Arguments For and Against Reform.

Strategy: Promoting Idea of Spelling Reform.

These articles make basic points about promotion, ways to spred the word, and how to sell this to the public:

Campbell, Allan, Editorial, "Learning for the future," Simpl Speling SS5, March 1998, p.4, "The rite of replying," Simpl Speling SS13, November 2000, p.7. A quote from this runs:

"Public attitudes that change, change mainly slowly. Advertisers spend much on repeating expensive TV ads - to have their message sink in. It's the steady drip, drip, drip that wears the stone, and if our letters can be part of a series, the better our chances."

Cookson, Harry, "People find reasons to oppose change," Simpl Speling SS5, March 1998, p.3.

Downing, John, Ph.D., "Research on Spelling Re-form," Spelling Progress Bulletin, Spring 1980, pp.8-9.

Hanks, Patrick and Upward, Chris, "Feasibility of Spelling Reform," JSSS J8, 1988/2, pp. 24-28.

Hofmann, Thomas R, "International Requirements for Spelling Reform," JSSS J7, 1988/1, pp 20-22.

Kiwi, Chris, Letter to Simpl Speling, "Promoting reform in general," SS13 November 2000, p.4.

Kuizenga, Elizabeth, Letter to Simpl Speling, "A call to get 'into real action'," SS10 November 1999, p.5.

Kupfrian, Dr. Wilbur J., Letter to Spelling Progress Bulletin, "Where do we go from here?" Spring 1980, p.20.

"A great promotional program would be required before the average citizen perceives the inconsistent and complicated aspects of our spelling 'system' and of the advantages both at home and internationally of adopting more uniform spelling rules."

"Forming a strategy for introducing simplified spelling," Simpl Speling SS14, March 2001, p1 and Members' supplement pp.2-3 [edited report of a presentation by Jack Bovill]

Stark, David, "Implementing Spelling Reform - An Introduction," JSSS J10, 1989/1, pp.19-20 [a companion piece is listed later in the bibliografy].

Thommen, Matthew, "Selling Spelling: a marketing approach to orthographic change," JSSS J20, 1996/1, pp.25-27.

Upward, Christopher, Editorial, "Orthografic Ownrship: an aproach to winng suport for spelng reform?" SSS Newsletter, N10 April 1996, pp.6-11.

"If potential users needs ar not caterd for, those users canot hav a sense of ownrship and wil not be esily persuaded to adopt a reformd orthografy."

Yule, Valerie, "How to Implement Spelling Reform," Spelling Progress Bulletin, Fall 1980, pp.10-12.

"Spelling reform can only be achieved by looking at what is practicable, not at dogmatic idealism about what would be perfect; arguments must deal in evidence rather than in opinion."

Taking The Public Pulse: Popular Reaction to Reformed Spellings

Here are articles or letters about taking surveys, doing control studies, etc. to find out how people feel about spelling reform, their reactions to reformed spellings, that might be used to create a plan more salable to the public:

Baker, Robert G, Ph.D., "An Experimental Study of Attitudes Towards English Spelling Reform," Spelling Progress Bulletin, Spring 1983, pp.6-11.

Cunningham, Paul, "Teaching one's ideas, seeking reactions," Simpl Speling SS7, November 1998, p.3.

Gledhill, Dr John M, "A pre-Christmas office experiment," Simpl Speling SS9, July 1999, p.3.

Jolly, C J H, "The Marketability of Spelling Reform," JSSS J8, 1988/2, pp.17-19.

Thorstad, Gwenllian, "Children's Responses to Simplified Spelling, Part 1," JSSS J21, 1997/1, pp.3-8, Part 2, JSSS J22, 1997/2, pp.3-10.

Whitmore, Peter, Letter to JSSS, "Testing the -ITE market," JSSS J27, 2000/1, pp.35-36.

Wilkinson, Jean, "If U could spell Wednesday any way U liked..." Simpl Speling SS4, November 1997, p.6.

Yule, Valerie, "Experiments in public response to surplus-cut spellings in texts," JSSS J16, 1994/1, pp.7-16

Spelling Reform in Other Languages:


One notable recent - indeed still on-going - example is the spelling reform in German. Here are items chronicling many of the stumbling blocks and successes that the reform has met as it's moved ahed:

Under "Spelling Reform Around The World": "Germany," News8 Summer 1985, pp.7-8.

Under "From Around the World": "Germany," SSSN J3 Summer 1986, p.14.

"Institut für deutsche Sprache: Sprachreport 4/87" [summary and translation of account by Dr Wolfgang Mentrup], JSSS J7, 1988/1, p.32.

Augst, Gerhard; Upward, Chris; and Institut für deutsche Sprache, "The Latest on 'Re-regulating' Written German," JSSS J11, 1989/2, pp.15-17

Augst, Gerhard, "Update on the Reregulation of German Orthography," JSSS J12, 1992/1, p.15.

Harenberg, Werner, "Paket, Rytmus, Tron?"

Günther Drosdowski on Spelling Reform, Interview from Der Spiegel #25, 1995, translated by Margot McCaffrey in "German Reform: Two Years in Twilight," JSSS J19, 1995/2, pp.18-21.

Ed Chris Upward "Spelling Reform in German," JSSS J21, 1997/1, pp.22-24, 36.

Augst, Gerhard, "Update on the German Spelling Reform," JSSS J22, 1997/2, p.24.

"Notes from Switzerland," JSSS J22, 1997/2, p.24.

Augst, Gerhard and Schaeder, Burkhard, "Recht-schreibreform-eine Antwort an die Kritiker, Stutt-gart: Ernst Klett Verlag, summarized and translated by Upward, C. under the title 'Answering the Critics of German Spelling Reform'," JSSS J23, 1998/1, pp.20-23.

"The reform represents a compromise between different interests, and no one can expect it to incorporate all their personal preferences or theories."

"The German Reform: Judgment by the Highest Court and a Little Local Difficulty," JSSS J26, 1999/2, p.20.

Hutchinson, Gavin, "Opposition to the German Spelling Reform," JSSS J26, 1999/2, pp.21-23.

"German news agencies adopt (some) reformed spellings," [summary and translation of article by Jürgen Dittmann in Sprachreport April 1999], JSSS J27, 2000/1, p.23.

do Rock, Z, "German changes taking hold," Simpl Speling SS11, March 2000, p.2.

do Rock, "German newspaper backtracks on change," Simpl Speling SS13, November 2000, p.6.

Here are articles about spelling reforms in a few other European languages:


Trouille, Jean-Marc, "Changes in the Spelling of Dutch," JSSS J5 1987/2, pp.14-16

Cohen, Harry, "Spelling reform in the Low Countries," JSSS J19, 1995/2, pp.11-13.


Baddeley, Susan, "AIROE: an Association for Spelling Reform in France," JSSS J7, 1988/1, pp.30-31.

Baddeley, Susan, "Spelling reform in France: Past, Present and...Future?" JSSS J10, 1989/1, pp.10-12:

"As the task of making up for lost time becomes more and more urgent, reformers realise that over-ambitious reform schemes which have no hope of succeeding will only be a waste of time and effort.."

Baddeley, Susan, "Progress of the spelling reform debate in France," JSSS J11, 1989/2, pp.14-15.

Upward, Christopher, "A role for dictionaries in spelling reform: a French example," SSS Newsletter, N1 April 1991, pp.3-4.

Brown, Bob, "Can we learn from the French?" SSS Newsletter, N4 July 1992, pp.2-3

Baddeley, Susan, "The 1990 French Spelling Reforms: an Example to be Followed," JSSS J15, 1993/2, pp.3-5.

"Most people are simply not aware of the extent to which spelling has changed over the centuries, and this makes them immediately hostile to what they mistakenly consider to be an attack on a part of their 'national heritage.'"


Baker, Robert G, "Spelling Reform and Politics: the Case of Norwegian," SSSN J1, Autumn 1985, pp.8-9.


Cookson, Harry, "Spelling reform in Portuguese: what can we learn?" JSSS J21, 1997/1, p.21.

do Rock, Z, "The Spelling of Portuguese," JSSS J28, 2000/2, pp.24-26.

A bibliografy with a further listing of Journal articles about spelling reforms in other languages:

JSSS, "Writing reforms in other languages," JSSS J27, 2000/1, p.13.

The situation with Esperanto is of course not the same, but there are things to learn from the general idea of language planning:

Gledhill, Chris, "What can we learn from Esperanto?" Simpl Speling SS7, November 1998, p.7.

Further Ideas to Consider in Planning.

Brown, Bob, "English Spelling and the Computer," SSS Newsletter, N8 August 1995, p.5 [Report of Dr. Roger Mitton's address to the Annual General Meeting].

"Simplified Spelling on the Internet," SSS Newsletter, N10 April 1996, pp.5, 11.

Cookson, Harry, "Phonetic spelling: How far can we go in English?" SSS Newsletter, N10 April 1996, p.4.

Frith, Dr. Uta, "Cognitive Processes in Spelling and their Relevance to Spelling Reform," Spelling Progress Bulletin, Spring 1982, pp.6-9.

Gregersen, Edgar, "Morphological Consideration in the Creation of Rational Orthographies," SSSN, J2 Spring 1986, pp.14-17.

- "Compromise Spellings and World English," JSSS J27, 2000/1, pp.16-18.

Ives, Kenneth, "Diagraming Spellings," JSSS J14, 1993/1, pp.20-22.

Kerr, John S, "The Implications of Spelling Reform for Skilled Readers," JSSS J8, 1988/2, p.20.

Scragg, Donald G, "English Spelling and its Reform: Some Observations from a Historical Perspective," JSSS J11, 1989/2, pp.4-8 [1988 Inaugural Address].

Seymour, Dr P H K, "Psychological Processes in Spelling Recognition and Production," Spelling Progress Bulletin, Spring 1982, pp.9-10.

Upward, Christopher, "Heterographs in English," JSSS J4, 1987/1, pp.18-25.

Wells, John C, "English Accents and their Implications for Spelling Reform," SSSN J3, Summer 1986, pp.5-13.

Yule, Valerie, "Improving English spelling for readrs," JSSS J14, 1993/1, pp.10-18.

"International English Spelling and the Internet," JSSS J23, 1998/1, pp.8-13.

Also: Edgar Gregersen's "Compromise Spellings" article in the JSSS J27, 2000/1, pp16-18, shows some examples of a few of the main spelling reform proposals, Nue Speling, Cut Spelling, and American Spelling/ World English Spelling.

And: Information that can be used in planning a spelling reform can also be found on Valerie Yule's website. See links.

More Ideas: Reviews of Books and Other Writings.

Ives, Kenneth, Review of Ralph Cooper "Language Planning and Social Change" (1989, Cambridge University Press), JSSS J12, 1992/1, pp.9-11.

Jolly, Chris, "Three influential books of the past decade" [Brief reviews of: Peter Bryant and Lynette Bradley "Children's Reading Problems" (1985, Blackwell, Oxford); Margaret Snowling "Dyslexia" (1987, Blackwell, Oxford); Usha Goswani and Peter Bryant "Phonological Skills and Learning to Read" (1991, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hove, England)], JSSS J16, 1994/1, p.36.

Mitton, Roger, Review of Edward Carney "A Survey of English Spelling" (1994, Routledge, London), JSSS J19, 1995/2, pp.3-5.

Reilly, John J., "Richard Feynman & Isaac Asimov on Spelling Reform," JSSS 25, 1999/1, pp.31-33.

Upward, Christopher, "Revelations of a Cross-Linguistic Perspectiv" [Review of Margaret Harris and Giyoo Hatano "Learning to Read and Write: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective" (1999, Cambridge University Press)], JSSS J27, 2000/1, pp.30-33.

Lobbying Literacy Policy Makers In Britain:

JSSS J21, 1997/1, pp.27-29 [correspondence with Michael Barber, David Reynolds, Nicholas Tate].

JSSS J22, 1997/2, pp.33-34 [further correspondence with Michael Barber].

JSSS J24, 1998/2, pp33-34 [with Michael Barber, Nicholas Tate].

JSSS J26, 1999/2, p.29 [with Tony Blair and David Blunkett].

JSSS J27, 2000/1, pp.24-30 "Submission to the UK Parliament's Education Sub-Committee Inquiry into Early Years Education" [prepared by Masha Bell].

Bell, Masha, "Preparing a submission", Simpl Speling SS11, March 2000, Members' supplement p.2.

Gwen Thorstad, "Further representations to Commons", Simpl Speling SS12, July 2000, p.1.

In New Zealand


JSSS J25, 1999/1, pp.33-34 [correspondence with Wyatt Creech's office and Dept. of Education].

"NZ asked to take lead", Simpl Speling SS11, March 2000, p.2.

"'American spellings' issue raises the profile", Simpl Speling SS13, November 2000, p.2.

Campbell, Allan, "Lobbying in New Zealand", JSSS J28, 2000/2, pp.27 32

In Britain and New Zealand


"Society engages MPs on two fronts", Simpl Speling SS11, March 2000, p.1

A bibliografy of earlier submissions is listed in: JSSS J18, 1995/1, p.33.

Calls for an International English Spelling Summit.

Some proponents of reform have long called for an international body to oversee English spelling. Some examples are:

"Congress call 'to be encouraged'," Simpl Speling SS14, March 2001, Members' supplement p.1.

Yule, Valerie, Letter to Simpl Speling, "'Free spirits in the hills,'" SS14 March 2001, p.5.

How to Get the Media and Other Institutions to Use Simpler Spellings.

Bonsall, Damian, "What newspapers may require to alter their spelling," Simpl Speling SS11, March 2000, p.7.

Craig, Robert, "Three-stage policy," Simpl Speling SS14, March 2001, p.4.

Kimball, Cornell, "What One Member Has Been Doing", SSS Newsletter SS1, December 1996, p.6.

Lang, Tom, "An approach to Chambers", Simpl Speling SS12, July 2000, p.6.

Little, Joe, "How can we outsmart Murphy?", SSS Newsletter SS3, July 1997, p.1.

- "...or simply praise the Lord", Simpl Speling SS4, November 1997, p1.

Mole, Alan, "Spelling-reform books for libraries," Simpl Speling SS13, November 2000, p.3.

Rondthaler, Edward, "A Teaching Spell Checker", JSSS J22, 1997/2, pp.17-18.

Relton, Ted, "Publish - and be damned...", Simpl Speling SS4, November 1997, p.1.

Kimball, Cornell, "Dictionary alters thru entries," SS5 March 1998, p.1.

- Under "Snippets": "In three books on ergonomics ... " SS13 November 2000, p.3.

Jolly, Chris, "Talking with journalists from publishing houses," SS14 March 2001, p.3.

Upward, Christopher, "Th Potential of Stylgides as Vehicls for Spelng Reform, with a case-study of The Times English Style and Usage Guide," JSSS 21, 1997/1, pp.13-20.

Wilkinson, Jean, Letter to Simpl Speling, "Comics at the leading edge?" SS14 March 2001, p.4.

Yule, Valerie, "Style in Australia: current practices in spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, caplisation, etc.," JSSS J7, 1988/1, pp. 28-30.

- "Style Council 1988 in Melbourne Australia," JSSS J10, 1989/1, p.31.

The Initial Teaching Alphabet.

Downing, John, "The Transfer of Skill in Language Functions" [re-edited], JSSS J28, 2000/2, pp.3-11.

Threadgall, Ronald A, "The Initial Teaching Alphabet: Proven Efficiency and Future Prospects," JSSS J7, 1988/1, pp.18-19.

Upward, Christopher, "John Downing's i.t.a. Evaluation", JSSS J28, 2000/2, pp.12-15.

Another source for information on the initial teaching alphabet is a page on websites run by David Barnsdale and Steve Bett.

An Application of a Small Set of Reformed Spellings in a Publication.

This is a series of articles about the Chicago Tribune's use of up to 80 simplified spellings as standard in the newspaper:

Shipley, John B., "Spelling the Chicago Tribune Way, 1934-1975",
Part 1, JSSS J24, 1998/2, pp.3-10.
Part 2, JSSS J25, 1999/1, pp.3-10.
Part 3, JSSS J26, 1999/2, pp.16-19.

Changes on Limited Scale.

These quotes and references deal with proposals for reforming just a small set of spellings or of making modest rather than thorogoing changes to English spelling.

Barbe, Walter B., Editorial, Spelling Progress Quarterly, Spring 1984, pp.2-3.

"We cannot forsake standard English overnight, so our path must be one of moderation. Most obviously, we must remain aware of how our language is changing, both overtly and subtly. ... Words like thru, nite, and alien are all around us and demonstrate that our language is constantly evolving."

Campbell, Allan, Editorial, "Let's start from where we are," SSS Newsletter, SS2 March 1997, p.3.

"Our first step needn't be a Great Leap Forward that is counterproductive. World English has an array of improved and approved spelling options that are already familiar to readers."

Clausen, J, Letter to JSSS J10, 1989/1, p.3:

"The attempts in the past to simplify the written language have failed because the changes proposed have been too drastic all at once. Even your proposals for Cut Speling would seem to me again too drastic to get the nesesary support."

Cookson, Harry, Letter to Simpl Speling, "Partly accepted spellings," SS4 November 1997, p.5.

Craig, Robert, "Long service has seen many proposals," Simpl Speling SS4, November 1997, p.3. Referring to a few simpler spellings some periodicals:

"I feel that rather than pressing for our own particular systems we should cooperate to promote those changes which have majority support."

Everingham, Doug, "Wide-ranging involvement over many years," Simpl Speling SS11, March 2000, p.3.

"[I] asked the education minister about possibilities for spelling reform. He consulted some experts. Most of them advised only a small change like 'f' for 'ph' would be likely to succeed."

Free, Jon, Letter to JSSS, "Anglo-American variants," J28, 2000/2, p.32.

Gilet, Peter, Letter to Simpl Speling, "Foneticism a second priority?" SS9 July 1999, p.4:

"I am starting to think, from my own efforts at changing my spelling (in letters to frends and so on) that we have in fact grossly underestimated the momentum of a system used by millions of people."

His Grace The Archbishop of York, Letter to JSSS, "Acceptability problems," J11, 1989/2, p.3.

"Having read your literature my immediate reaction is that it contains some excellent ideas, but that you are probably trying to do too much all at once and that your proposals will suffer the fate of Esperanto. The fact that American spelling has not proved acceptable in this country [the UK] is, I suppose, an example of the resistances likely to be encountered."

Helm, Nelson, "'The excellent but unlikely' is killing 'the modest but less unlikely'," Simpl Speling SS6, July 1998, p.5.

"I expect the public will resist the first change most. Therefore, I suggest that we find some small, popular change, and sell it in isolation (not as part of a package)."

Ives, Kenneth, "A Spelling Reform Program for the 1990's For English Speaking Adults," JSSS J12, 1992/1, pp.11-13.

Kimball, Cornell, "Pragmatic Strategies for Promoting Spelling Reform," JSSS J23, 1998/1, pp.14-18.

Lang, Tom, Letter to Simpl Speling, "Favors use of best dictionary forms," SS6 July 1998, p.4.

- "When Parliament voted to simplify spelling!" Simpl Speling SS8, March 1999, p.3.

"I feel that any system requiring extensive changes in spelling stands no chance of gaining general acceptance."

MacLeod, Dan, Letter to JSSS, "Reform by spellchecker," J22, 1997/2, p.36.

"I don't know how it is in the UK, but here [in the US] informal simplifications like nite and tuff are pretty widespread. It seems like simply legitimizing these spellings would get things rolling."

- Letter to Simpl Speling, "Ergonomics has a lesson for spelling reformers," SS4 November 1997, p.4.

Stark, David, "2-The Principle of Minimal Interference," JSSS J11, 1989/2, pp.22-24:

"It may be an emotional response for someone to dismiss a new spelling as 'peculiar' or 'ridiculous' merely by looking at it. However, it will be easier to make them look a second time, and convince them that the new spellings are merely a more rational advance on the old ones, if the link with traditional orthography is clear."

Upward, Christopher, Editorial, JSSS J7, 1988/1, p.2 [Leapfrogging Webster],

- Editorial, JSSS J11, 1989/2, p.2 [Exploiting Alternative Spellings].

Common Arguments For and Against Reform.

Some of the main arguments against reform, as well as answers to them, are available on a website maintained by Justin Rye: see Links This material was adapted for the JSSS:

Rye, Justin B, "Spelling Reform - arguments against and for," JSSS J27, 2000/1, pp.19-22.

Some good countering arguments - especially disabusing the idea that English spellings always reflect their histories - are given in this reprint of an earlier SSS publication:

"SSS Pamflet Nr. 3 'Dhe Etimolojikal Arguement' bie William Archer," JSSS J27, 2000/1, pp.3-10.

Also notable for reasons for/against:

Anderson, George, "VIPs also can be poor spellers," Simpl Speling SS6, July 1998, p.2.

Hutchins, Jean, "Wy dyslexics need simplifyd speling," JSSS J10, 1989/1, pp.5-9.

Moseley, David V, "Spelling Difficulties Limit Written Expression," JSSS J13, 1992/2, p.20.

"Most illiterate English children would succeed in other languages," Simpl Speling SS12, July 2000, p.7 [Report of Ken Spencer's speech to the Annual General Meeting].

"Spelling change myths," SS14 March 2001, p.3.

Thorstad, Gwenllian, "Literacy Skills of English and italian Children," JSSS J13, 1992/2, pp.21-22.

Upward, Christopher, "German & English Spelling Difficulty Compared," JSSS J13, 1992/2, p.22 Further: The submissions that have been made to literacy policy makers, noted earlier in this bibliografy, are good sources for reasons favoring reform. Two in particular that give many reasons are in JSSS J14, 1993/1, pp.3-8, and JSSS J27, 2000/1, pp.24-30.

Other Topics: The General Nature of English Spelling, Its Problems, and Possible Solutions

A bibliografy accompanied a 1992 SSS Submission to the (British) National Curriculum Council: JSSS 14, 1993/1, pp.8-9.

Some Websites on Spelling Reform Topics

See links to webs of SSS members and journal authors.

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