simplified spelling

simplified spelling

English spelling is notoriously complex and difficult to learn. English spells its 42 spoken sounds in over 400 ways! Children spend years memorizing thousands of spelling exceptions in order to learn to read and write. Those learning English as a second language are hindered by this haphazard system.

The SoundSpel system, which has origins that date back to 1910, is described in detail in the 1986 publication “Dictionary of Simplified American Spelling” (ref 1). Soundspel is based on very simple, consistent spelling rules:

  1. Short vowels are a single letter, as in: sat, set, did, dot, cut
  2. Long vowels are followed immediately by an e, as in: sundae, see, die, toe, cue
  3. No silent letters
  4. Most double letters are removed
  5. Consonants such as f, s, j have a consistent, single sound and spelling:
    tough, phone, city, judge, gorgeous
    → tuf, foen, sity, juj, gorjus

A few other sounds, rules, and exeptions (refs 1,2) will be obvious to the reader. This results in a spelling system with nearly one-to-one correspondence between sounds and spelling. For example:

hat, have, laugh, plaid
→ hat, hav, laf, plad

red, head, said, friend
→ red, hed, sed, frend

herd, earth, birth, journey
→ herd, erth, berth, jerny

hide, fight, find, sign, knight
→ hied, fiet, fiend, sien, niet

roll, hole, soul, goal, bowl
→ roel, hoel, soel, goel, boel

tough, love, judge, tongue
→ tuf, luv, juj, tung

knight, receipt, asthma
→ niet, reseet, azma

Organizations that support spelling reform include the American Literacy Council, founded in 1876, and the English Spelling Society.