History of Reform of English Spelling (HOROES)

Christina Paulston paulston+ at pitt.edu
Sat Oct 19 14:58:43 UTC 2002

Take a look at the German spelling reform of the 90'ies, and you'll see it
is a hopeless undertaking. You'll end up with a spate of lawsuits from
Alaska to the antipodes, not worth the effort. cbpaulston

>From: Educational Linguistics <educational_linguistics at hotmail.com>
>To: lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
>Subject: History of Reform of English Spelling (HOROES)
>Date: Fri, Oct 18, 2002, 11:27 PM

> After a long silence, some people might want to be involved in a concrete
> project work. The following is a serious suggestion:
> History of Reform of English Spelling (HOROES)
>>>From Ormulum to Shavian: Eight Centuries of English Spelling Reform
> English spelling per se is a linguistic problem (phonology/morphology), but
> it has often become an education issue (literacy). However, reforming
> English spelling would be a sociolinguistic matter, in which factors far
> beyond the language per se have to be taken into account, and this is
> probably why English spelling remains largely unchanged despite various
> attempts to reform English spelling over the centuries.
> *AIMS*
> As English is now entering a globalizing age, it would be very timely for
> us:
> 1) to review what our predecessors attempted and why they failed(?);
> 2) to analyze different factors in reforming English spelling;
> 3) to predict what could be done in order to stand a better chance of
> reforming English spelling for the benefits of present and future
> English-language teachers, learners and users worldwide.
> This project will be able to make original contributions to:
> 1) English Language: When many people’s attention tends to have moved from
> phonetics to pragmatics, relatively little effort has been made to save this
> problematic and yet often neglected aspect of the English language so it
> would be very important to "revive" this issue in English (historical)
> (socio-)linguistics;
> 2) Education: When more and more English-speaking people, both native and
> non-native, have been struggling with English spelling in one way or
> another, it would be necessary to draw education and language professionals’
> attention, again, to English spelling reform in (the history of) language
> education;
> 3) Academia: Although there are publications, both online and printed, on
> English spelling and its history, there does not seem to be a book length
> treatment of the history of English spelling reform from Ormulum and
> Shavian, so this would be a much needed, even if not unique, publication
> developed out of this project.
> If any individual or institution is interested in this project, please state
> what kind of contribution you are prepared to make. For example,
> 1) Literature: Are you able to collect most if not all of the primary and/or
> secondary sources on English spelling reform?
> 2) Expertise: Do you have any expertise in any particular period or aspect
> of English spelling reform?
> 3) Resources: Can you provide human and/or material resources in support of
> this project?
> 4) Funding: Are you able to fund this project, its research and/or
> publication?
> 5) Dissemination: Can you contact any scholar or institution with a possible
> interest in the project?
> This could be a project for the humanity at large! Hope to hear from any of
> you in due course.
> *Please note that this is purely for academic/professional purposes.*
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