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  • A spelling reformer writes to Mr. Lincoln


Comments Jun 8, 2009 4:00 am

I went to Washington to raise awareness of the problems and costs caused by the inconsistency of English spelling in 2007 and again this year. I found that almost nobody had trouble understanding that the inconsistency of English spelling - with changing letter sounds as in ‘our, pour, courteous, tourist, courier,’ and ‘different spellings for identical sounds as in ‘leave, sleeve, believe, even’ -  makes learning to read and write much harder than need be, but that almost nobody had ever been made aware of this link before. That is the main obstacle to reform: people are not aware of the harm that the irregularities of English spelling do.  


Ben Franklin advocated spelling reform because he thought that the proper functioning of democracy depended on having a literate and well-informed populace. The fact that the people of both the US and the UK re-elected Bush and Blair even after it had become clear that they had taken their countries into an unjustified and illegal war makes me think that this may be due to both countries having relatively high levels of functional illiteracy and millions of virtually completely uneducated citizens.   


Masha Bell (2006),

‘Spellmender’ on You Tube,
Ex teacher of English and modern languages,

now independent literacy researcher and writer,
author of 'Understanding English Spelling' (2004),
'Learning to Read' (2007)

(and 'Rules and Exceptions of English Spelling' due out soon)

Reply to at 4:00 am