English Spelling Reform progress

Many of you will be familiar with this from endless e-maiIs. I first got to hear about the wonderful proposal while on a training course in Glasgow. It was the late 90s and we were all excited about it, especially me, as the only German on the course. Change was in the air. However, with a change of Government, all change was blocked.

If anyone among you is in touch with the movers and shakers in Europe, could you find out which stage has been reached?

"The European Union has reached agreement to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and it has accepted a five-year phased plan.

In the first year, “s” will be used instead of the soft “c”. Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard “c” will be replaced with “k”. Not only will this klear up confusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome “ph” will be replased by “f”. This will make words like “fotograf” 20 per sent shorter. In the third year, public akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expected to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of nerly doble vowels and doble konsonants, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horrible mes of silent “e”s in the languaj is disgrasful, and they would go.

By the forth yer, piple will be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” by “z” and “w” by “v”.

During the fifz yer, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from all vords containing “ou”, and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters. After zis fifz yer, v evil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru."

Kep praktising! Ju vil get zer!


I hear Europe is proposing a similar idea for Greece, as well?

Seriously, however, there have been a number of experiments done in the UK and USA “whereby children were initially allowed to spell words exactly as they sound (i.e. ignoring the irregularities in English spelling), with the result that these children learned to read and write faster, with no appreciable harm to their later spelling ability.”

This result holds true for a broad range of other languages as well, for example Chinese.


The advantage of this approach is so clear that, these days, pretty much all Chinese is typed out phonetically, and languages like Indo/Malay are often held up as a gold standard for ease of acquiring.

I wonder how they are going to deal with homonyms?

Meihem in e Klasrum