The English language is full of weird spelling and pronunciation – which makes it hard for kids to learn how to spell. For example, words that end in “O-M-B” can sound entirely different, like: “bomb,” “comb,” and “tomb.” Then, there are words that sound the same but are spelled nothing alike, like “won” as in “winning,” and “one” as in the number. So, wouldn’t it make sense for words to be spelled the way they sound? Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie thought so. He pointed out that in languages with phonetically spelled words, like German or Spanish, children learn to spell in weeks, instead of the months or years it takes to learn to spell in English.
So, 100 years ago this summer, Carnegie founded the Simplified Spelling Board to promote the “new” written English. The system was created by Melville Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal system used in libraries. It eliminated “useless” letters, like “X” and “C”……Used the letter “W” to spell the word “which” and the number “one”……And spelled “soft G” words, like “geriatric” and “germ,” with a “J.” It also suggested writing words the way they sound…… Like, “easy” would be “E-E-Z-Y,” and “words” would be “W-U-R-D-Z.”
But despite support from important people like Mark Twain, and President Theodore Roosevelt, the recommendations never caught on with the public. But now, a group called the American Literacy Council wants to really bring an end to “illogical spelling” and reduce the illiteracy rate in the English-speaking world. They point out that kids who text-message each other are doing exactly what Andrew Carnegie envisioned – spelling words the way they sound, and as simply as possible……Like replacing the word “you” with the letter “U,” and spelling “great” “G-R” plus the number 8.
So, what do you think? Should English words be simplified so that everything’s easier to spell? Or should schoolchildren do what their ancestors have always done – spell things the way they appear in the dictionary.