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ENGLISH SPELLING REFORM. TO THE EDITOR OF THE GUARDIAN. SIR,—In resuming this subject it will be as well to mention that the reform has been from time to time before the public in some form or other; and that various improved methods of spelling have been printed in newspapers and magazines, sup- ported by paragraphs and leading articles con- taining many forcible arguments. Most cf the professors of philology and lecturers on language at the English Universities, as well as the teachers of the public schools, are in favour of a revision in spelling. Ou the other hand there are people, who appear to be in the minority, who have a strong objection to any change, and have no desire to alter the current system or spelling, which is generally admitted to be so bad that it can scarcely be worse. R •vason and truth prevail, either actually or apparently, in most things, but in regard to spelling English, and in the use of letters to represent the spoken sounds it is found on examina- tion that reason is set at defiance, and truth, or phonetic truth, is disregarded, and that throughout the alphabet, from a to z," inconsistency and irregularity reign triumphant. One letter is made, to do duty for a variety of different sounds, whilst some letters when combined together are silent, not sounded. In truth English orthography, or the art of spelling the language, abounds in fallacies and evils, as everyone can testify who has given atten- tion to the matter, and particularly those who are engaged in teaching the young. As the case is at present no one can know with certainty how to pronounce any word which he has only seen written and not heard spoken, neither can he tell how to spell a word which he has only kc-ard spoken but never r.een written and hence are we led to the irresistible conclusion, which is not a pleasant one, that the ep -jllicg ot •English words is no guide to their pronunciation. ■ Such irregularity in spelling L,s arisen no doubt from the great difference? in character of the three main elements in the language—namely Anglo- Saxon, Norman-French, and Litin. Such being the case it is easy to imagine the troubles and sorrows of children learning to read and spell. Were they able to give full expression to their feelings and their mental anguish, it would be in seme such terms as these Oh this spelling, what a bother; its vagaries heap upon us many cares, and give us anxious hours, it multiplys our doubts and our troubles." Under the circumstances it is not. surprising to find that both the occupation of teaching to read, and learning to read, is regarded alike by teacher and pupil, as a heavy drudgery, for the quacks and quirks" of spelling are con. tinual puzz'es. Those engaged in elementary education can emphatically confirm by facts and experience the conclusion arrived at by a living philologist: to the effect thai, as usually managed, it. is dreadful task to learn to read, and, if possible, it is a still more dreadful t';sk to teach reading. The darkest shadow in the path of children is cast, by this spelling difficulty, which militates so powerfully against the acquisition of knowledge in all elementary schools. As an indication of the difficulties which foreign- ers experience in English spelling, it is related of Voltaire, the French poet, when undergoing sundry painful efforts in his attempts to learn English, he discovered that the letters a-g-u-e spelled ague (a word of two syllables) but that if the word ib in- creased by adding two letters to make p-l-a-g-u-e, the word became one syllable and so pronounced plague, he threw the book from him and fairly danced in bitter wrath, and wished in his rage that one-half the English nation might have the ague and the other half the plague. A clevar comedian ¡. used to amuse himself by making fun out of the; English method cf spelling words in one way and speaking theiu in another. He is reading his friend love letter Should my suit (which he pronounce'! like the word suet) be accepted. "— Brown corrects him, and says it is to be called sewt. The comedian giver, a stare of surprise at his Mend, shrugs his shoulders, and then proceeds—" Should my suit be accepted, I will live in hope of seeiug you wear this bucket." Brown again corrects him by saying it is not called bucket but bukay. The eemedian gives another earnest look at his friend, and settles the matter by saying "Now look Brown, I give you the suit, but I stick to the bucket." Another example of the uncertainty of spelling by sound is the name of the great poet Shakespeare, which is spelled in thirty different ways. It is possible also to spell certain words, such as scissors, in several hundred different ways. Numerous are the examples that might be given of the irregular and varying methods of spelling words on account of the want of system in Euglish OL-rhography. Such considerations as those which have been re- ferrtd to are evidence in support of the contention that a reform in English spelling is necessary and many are already convinced that it is not only necessary but practical, and that a reform of some laud cannot long be delayed. In this view, the Spelling Reform Association ia about to form a special committee for the purpose of investigating the merits of the different schemes of reiormed spelling. One amongst the new schemes is that knowu as the phonetic system, which has been tried for some time past in several schools as well as privately. It has been found practical, and very successful in lessening the difficulties of learning to read and spell. This system, and the results of experiments made with it: will be fur her referred to in another letter.—Yours, 27th October, 1879. FFERM.

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