How Famous Writers Really Feel About Spelling

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  • Archaic, Cumbrous, Ineffective
    "English orthography . . . is archaic, cumbrous, and ineffective; its acquisition consumes much time and effort; failure to acquire it is easy of detection."
    (Thorstein Veblen)
  • The Wuss Speller
    "It is a pity that Chawcer, who had geneyus, was so unedicated. He's the wuss speller I know of."
    (Artemus Ward, Artemus Ward in London, 1867)
  • Reforming the Abuses
    "The question now occurs; ought the Americans to retain these faults which produce innumerable inconveniencies in the acquisition and use of the language, or ought they at once to reform these abuses, and introduce order and regularity into the orthography of the AMERICAN TONGUE? Let us consider this subject with some attention.

    "Several attempts were formerly made in England to rectify the orthography of the language. But I apprehend their schemes failed to success, rather on account of their intrinsic difficulties, than on account of any necessary impracticability of a reform. It was proposed, in most of these schemes, not merely to throw out superfluous and silent letters, but to introduce a number of new characters. Any attempt on such a plan must undoubtedly prove unsuccessful. It is not to be expected that an orthography, perfectly regular and simple, such as would be formed by a 'Synod of Grammarians on principles of science,' will ever be substituted for that confused mode of spelling which is now established. But it is apprehended that great improvements may be made, and an orthography almost regular, or such as shall obviate most of the present difficulties which occur in learning our language, may be introduced and established with little trouble and opposition."
    (Noah Webster, "An Essay on the Necessity, Advantages, and Practicality of Reforming the Mode of Spelling and of Rendering the Orthography of Words Correspondent to Pronunciation," 1789)


NEXT:The Futility of Spelling Reform: Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, and the Rotten English Alphabet
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