News8. (underlined words and letters are presented as headings or in italics here.)
On other pages: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 5.

Newsletter Summer 1985. part 4.


[Kenneth Ives: See Journals, Newsletters, Anthology, Bulletins, Book Written Dialects.]

Kenneth H Ives: Adoptability Criteria Applied to SSS Stage 1.

SPELLING REFORM STAGE 1, as adopted by the Simplified Spelling Society in April 1984, brings together the various reforms which have considerable backing in the field. What is needed, in order to get them readily adopted, is a "repackaging" for "adoptability" - easy teaching and learning for those who become interested in adopting spelling reforms. The following principles may well guide such an effort.

1. Most speakers and writers of English were not taut by fonetic rules, and the fonics of present English are so riddled with exceptions and alternatives that most casual users cannot easily and reliably apply a fonic rule. Hence:
a. Lists of words affected by a proposed change are essential. These, should contain the most frequent examples of the change.

b. For memorizability and for use by proofreaders, these lists should not exceed 15-25 words for any one change. The full list for SR 1 is 264 words, the short list 72 words. The revised list for DUE is 58 words. Both are unworkable.

c. Derivatives of words on these lists, which axe similarly pronounst should be similarly respelt.
2. Experience in publishing materials with some simplified spellings indicates that readers more often balk if more than about 1% of words are changed in spelling at a time (at least in early stages). This means several changed words appear on an average page in a small (14x22 cm or 5.5x8-5") book.

3. Some words need more than one change in spelling. This can confuse followers of reform if they are askt to change their spelling of a word a second time soon after the first change. In practice, this may mean that such words should be left off short lists of examples until their final spelling change is made. Some of these may need to be grouped into an early reform step.

4. Each step should have a clearly defined change or set of changes.

5. Examples given should usually include all those given in the most frequent 2,000 words (occurring 50 or more times in a million). These account for about 80% of words in an average text. A word counting less than 50 would appear less than once in 80 pages in a small book.

6. Early steps should include some of the most difficult and confusing of present spellings.

7. Early steps should include changes with the highest acceptability ratings, from surveys of potential adopters.

8. After a change has been introduced, words needing this change in addition to an earlier one can be included in lists for the second change. Words needing previous changes as well as this one can be included in lists for this change.

Applying these criteria to STAGE 1, we get a "teachable" package of 5 steps for adoption one at a time by adults.
STEP 1: Drop silent "gh", change it and "ph" to "f" where so pronounced, with some vowel spelling changes.
SR OUGH: altho, tho, thru, thruout; enuf, ruf, rufly, tuf; baut, braut, faut, aut, saut, thaut, thauts.

(These 15 words count 3,449 in a million average words of text.)

SR AUGH: caut, dauter, taut; laf, lafing, laft. (These 6 count 326)

SR PH: emfasis, fenomena, fenomenon, filosofy, filosofical, filosofer, fone, telefone, fosforus, fotograf, fotografic, fotografs. (These 12 count 424)

These 33 words of Step 1 count 4,199 or 0.4 % of an average.text.
STEP 2: Short "e" sound spelt "e". (SRI)
List 1: agen, agenst, ahed, alredy, eny enything, ded, deth, frend, frends, hed, helth, hed (verb), hevy, insted, meny, ment, redy, sed. (These 19 words count 8,246)

List 2: bred, brekfast, breth, frendly, frendship,heded, heding, helthy, heven, hevily, lern, lerning, redily, spred, thretening, wepon, wether. (These 18 words count 898; range 26-83)

The 37 words of STEP 2 count 9,144 or 0.9%.
STEP 3: Silent (useless) "e" dropt in "ar, hav, -ate" words.
SR DUE 1. ar, we'r, you'r arn't. (These count 4,641) hav, havn't, I'v, we'v. (These count 4,138) accurate adequate appropriate climat, definite delicate desparat, elaborat (adj.), estimat (noun), favorite graduat (noun) immediat inadequate privet, separat (adjective), ultimate unfortunatly. (These 17 words count 902)

These 25 words of STEP 3 count 9,681 or 1%.
STEP 4: Silent (useless) "e" dropt in "were, more, -ne, -se" words.
SR DUE 2: wer; mor, morover, furthermor; befor, scor, wor. (These 7 count 6,782) determin, doctrin, examin, gon, medicin. (These 5 count 411) defens, els, expens, fals, hors, hous, houshold, intens, loos, promis, purchas, vers, wors. (These 13 count 1,425)

These 25 words count 8,618 or 0.9% for STEP 4.
STEP 5: Drop silent "e" on "-ive" words pronounced "iv"; other -ve words.
List 1: activ, creativ, curv, detectiv, effectiv, executive, giv, impressive, liv (verb), nativ, negativ, objectiv, relativ, sensitiv, twelv. (These 15 count 1,378)

List 2: attractiv, collectiv, competitiv, consecutiv, destructiv, effectivness, exclusiv, expressiv, extensiv, initiativ, involv, legislativ, massiv, primativ, productiv, respectivly. (These 16 count 526; range 26-44)

These 31 words of STEP 5 count 1,904 or 0.2%
Total STEPS 1-5, 147 words counting 33,546 or 3.4%.
Final "s' rules for step 4. "-s" pronounced "s" except: 1. plural and possessive pronounced "z" except "ts". 2. Frequent words pronounced "z": as, has, is, his, was.

What these STEPS leave out are less frequent examples of the proposed changes. Thus STEP 2 lists 37 of the 264 words affected. List 1 accounts for over 80% of occurrances, List 2 for another 10%.

In conclusion, STAGE ONE as initially presented has too many examples for easy adoption at one jump - 177 words in shorter lists. It would make over 3% of changes in an average text. From experience, both factors are more difficult than the average user would find manageable. STAGE ONE was therefore reorganized, and divided into five STEPS for easier adoption. The principles proposed can be used to guide further spelling reform steps.

Kenneth H Ives: Some Early Further Steps in Spelling Reform.

With the adoption of Spelling Reform STAGE ONE by SSS in 1984, attention can turn to development and discussion of further stages. The 8 principles for "adoptability" proposed in a previous article need to be applied in these proposa1s.

Irregular words, and those requiring more than one change, are likely to be left aside if reform steps adhere to one rule each. Hence gathering many of these into an early reform step would clear up many troublesome anomalies.

Since "z" is the least used letter in the alfabet, tho its sound is 12th in frequency, at 3% of total fonemes, wider use of the letter seems called for as an early reform. The rule that "-s endings in plurals and posessives are pronounced "z" is so regular, and has so many examples, it should be let stand. The frequent examples of "-s pronounced z" (as, has, is, his, was) are a special problem and should also be left for later. This still leaves a great many which could well be regularized early.

The present rule for past endings is easy for writers, "add -ed", but not for readers. Adopting the reading rule to spellings would not increase the total rules, and would simplify reading. The rule is "-ed is pronounced 't' after k, p, s, sh, x, l m, n." Words which have alredy made the change include built, felt, kept, meant, sent, slept, swept (952 count, or 1/10 the tota1 so pronounced).

The most frequent letter in the alfabet is "e". Both SR1 and DUE steps improve the regularity of its use for the short "e" sound. Another early reform might well improve the use of "ee" for long "e" sound. At present, the most common spelling for this sound is "final -e in short words" - be, he, me, she, we. This is regular, and follows a more general rule that final single vowels are pronounced long, as if followed by an "e" (as many were earlier) (go, so, are examples of this larger rule). The next common spelling for long "e" is "ea" which is non-fonemic, and is used for several other sounds. While the "e-consonant e" spelling is less common than "ee', and is regular for readers, no rule helps writers to tell when to use that spelling.

Short word lists follow for a second stage of 6 proposed early steps of spelling reform.
Step 6: Irregular words, and 2+ change words.
wun, wunce, wuns, everywun, wun's; dun. (These 6 words count 4,336)

urly, urlier, urth; foren, grate (adj.), grately, grater, gratest; ieland, ielands; masheen, masheenery, nasheens; moov, mooving; nolij, peepl, peepls, skeem, wimen. (These 20 words count 3,175)

naiborhood, naibors, naiboring; thuro, thuroly. (These 5 count 183)

These 31 words of STEP 6 count 7,694 or 0.8%.
STEP 7: "s" pronounced "z", plus some vowel changes.
theez,.thoze; becauz, cauz, cauzed, cauzes; uze (verb), uzed, uzing; mezure, mezured; faze, fazes, fizical, fraze, frazes. (These 16 words count 5,373)

clozed, houzes, huzband, muzic, muzical, oppozit, otherwize, prezent, prezented, propozed, raized, rize, roze, rezult, rezults, thouzand, thouzands. (These 17 words count 2,237)

These 33 words of STEP 7 count 7,610 or 0.8%.
STEP 8: "s" pronounced "z" - more irregular and less common words.
bizness, bizy, cuzin, dizeez, duz, duzn't, eezily, eezy, reezon, reezons, sez, seezon. (These 12 words count 2,326)

chooz, choze, chozen; dezire, dezired, exercize, houzing, looz, noze, obzerved, pozitiv, prezence, raiz, refuzed, reprezented, suppozed, surprzed, unuzual. (These 19 words count 1,150; roots range 50-79)

These 31 words of STEP 8 count 3,476 or 0.3%
STEP 9: "-ed" endings pronounced "-t".
List 1: askt, developt, dropt, establisht, finisht, fixt, lookt, markt, publisht, pusht, talkt, stopt, wisht, workt. (These 14 words count 1,946)

List 2: accomplisht, approacht, attacht, burnt, distinguisht, equipt, jumpt, mixt, parkt, promist, remarkt, rusht, slipt, spelt, stept, washt. (These 16 words count 562)

These 30 words of STFP 9 count 2,508 or 0.3%.
STEP 10: "ee" for long "e" sound; "ea" spelt words.
List 1: cleer, cleerly, eech, eest, feer, heer (verb), heering, increes, increest, leev, reeving, meen, meening, meens, neer, neerly, reech, reecht, reed (verb), reeding, reel, reely, yeer, yeers. (These 24 count 5,971)

List 2: appeer, appeerance, appeered, appeers; deel, deer (adjective), eez, eezier, heet; leed, leeding, leeders, leadership; seet, teecher, teeching, teem. (These 17 count 1,442)

These 41 words of STEP 10 count 7,413 or 0.7 %.
STEP 11: "ee" for long "e" sound; "e consonant e" and "ei, ie" words.
e-e: compleet, compleeted, compleetly; concreet, extreem, extreemly, heer (Adverb), meer, meerly, seens, seveer, supreem, theem. (These 13 words count 1,783)

ei, ie: acheev, acheeved, acheevment; beleef, beleev, beleeved, beleevz; breef, breefly, cheef, feeld, feelds, receev, receeved, yeeld. (These 15 words count 1,412)

These 28 words of STEP count 3,195 or 0.3%.
The 6 STEPS proposed for STAGE 2 have 194 words, count 31,896 = 3.2%.
Steps 7 and 8 would increase the use of the letter "z" from 0.06% of letters to about 0.33%, over 5 times its present use, affecting over 60 of the 2,000 most frequent words.

The use of "-t" for past endings pronounced "t" expands them to about 3 times as many occurrences, raising "-t" spellings to 40 % of past endings so pronounced.

Steps 10 and 11 would about double the use of "e" spelling, from about 16% of "long e" sound to about 30%, and drop "ea" spellings from 19% to 9%.

In conclusion, even tho short lists are used, for "adoptability", substantial increases in fonemic regularity can be achieved by these proposed early steps of spelling reform. One reason for making these changes early is that future steps can then include examples needing s/z, -ed/-t, and ee changes, as these simplifications will alredy be familiar.

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On other pages: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 5.