Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Among many efforts to reform English spelling: Anglic, the creation of Dr. R. E. Zachrisson (1880–1937), professor of English at Uppsala University. A sample:

Forskor and sevn yeerz agoe our faadherz braut forth on this kontinent a nue naeshon, konsee vd in liberty, and dedikaeted to the propozishon that aul men are kreae ted equal.

Quoted in H. L. Mencken, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States , 4th ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936).
And a rejoinder to all such schemes, from a recent installment of Bryan Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day:
A person who has invested countless hours and endless labor learning to spell irrationally has an unconscious vested interest in the irrational system once he has mastered it, and no amount of argument on behalf of ease to his descendants will shake him.

Mario Pei, “English Spelling,” in Language Today: A Survey of Current Linguistic Thought (1967).
Also from The American Language
The American a : The American v. the Englishman : “Are you a speed-cop? : Benjamin Franklin and spelling : B.V.D. : English American English : Franco-American : “[N]o faculty so weak as the English faculty” : On professor : Playing policy : “There are words enough already” : The -thon , dancing and walking Through -thing and -thin’ : The verb to contact

comments: 4

Fresca said...

Maybe I could squeeze this in as an example of Lincoln's fame in the book I'm editing--which even starts with the Gettysburg Address--and, really, the speller is counting on the reader's familiarity with the passage.

Michael Leddy said...

Make sure to keep the italics for the long vowels. :)

Elaine said...

As with efforts to convert us (or just me) to the metric system, this will fail. I suffered to learn all the teaspooon/tablespoon/cup/quart measures, I have all the equipment for such measuring, and I'm not inclined to relearn/reform after 50 years of cookery. The whole time I lived in Europe, I mentally converted every baking temperature, every kilometer sign, every weather report, to familiar Fahrenheit/miles terms.
I think I have lots of company :0)

Michael Leddy said...

That’s a great comparison, and the metric system seems far more graspable than Anglic.