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BY PROFESSOR R. E. ZACHRISSON, of The Royal University, Uppsala, Sweden.

The vaast majority ov reedrs who hav givn time and thaut to this importent questtion wil probably agree with me on the foloing points:

(1) That in the interests ov Pees, Comers, and Culture, the civilized Nations ov the Wurld wil be bound to establish an International Langgwidg to be comonly uzed by the side ov the naetiv tungs.

(2) That oenly a living Langgwidg can be adopted for this purpos.

(3) That English must be chozen, becauz it has the simplest structure and the lardgest circulation, being spoken by mor than tuu hundrid milion peepl and being aulso the administrativ Langgwidg ov five hundrid milions, which meens that it is in curent use arming wun thurd part ov the wurld's population.

Neerly 100 yeers agoe wun ov the wurld's gratest filolodgists, Jacob Grimm, exprest himself as folos on the chaansis ov English as a wurld-langgwidg: "When we considr its richnis, intelectuality and condenst adaptability no wun ov aul udhr living langgwidgis mae be plased at the side ov English not eevn our German Langgwidg. Did not a whimzical, antiquated oythografy stand in the wae the ueniversality ov this Langgwidg wood be stil mor evident."

Not onely Jacob Grimm but evribody who has had the time and oportuenity ov seeriusly considring these matrs - from Queen Elizabeth's Chaanselr Sur Thomas Smith, who in 1568 publisht the furst wurk we pozes on English speling reform, til eny modern reprezentativ ov English filolodgy - wil hav to admit that ov aul langgwidgis ov culture English has the most antiquated, inconsistent and ilodgical speling. It is antiquated becauz it pictures a pronunsiation which has becum obsoleet long befor Shakespeare's time, it is inconsistent becauz its forty od sounds ar spelt in noe les than 500 diferent waes, it is ilodgical becauz meny ov its forms, e.g., debt, victuals, delight, heart, hearken ar fauls, in so far as they do not record pronunsiations which were in curent use at an urly date - such spelings ar from a linggwistik point ov vue meer Frankenstein monstrs.

It is not oenly the English speeking comuenitys, but the hole wurld that has to sufr from this unsatisfactery state ov things, for in its prezent orthografical garb English is not fitid for its hie mision ov becuming the ueniversl tung. Speling reforms hav been paast reesently in Germany and Sweden, sistems ov fonetik speling hav been dezined for Russian, Turkish, and Chinese - but England stil prides herself upon an orthografy which raadhr represents King Alfred's pronunsiation than that ov His Majesty King George the Fifth. Mae be, that the comon locution "the King's English" has oridginated in this wae.

The vaerius orthografical sistems which hav been framed reesently for the purpos ov rectifieng the English cacografy ar admirably thaut out and ar wurdhy ov the gratest consideration, but they deeviate tun much from the prezent speling, or ar tuu unsetld, with regard to deetales, imeedietly to have any chaansis ov being adoptid for jeneral practical purposis.

If we want to succeed we must wurk acording to the maxim, "Bild for the masis, and you wil win."

Aaftr twenty yeers ov resurch wurk in the cors ov which I hav had ocazion to egzamin and analize aulmost evry sistem ov fonetik or simplified speling ov English; I beleeve I hav at laast been abel to wurk out the principls for a nue sistem of English speling, i.e. Anglic, which auldhoe it is fonetik in principl (except in the case ov propr nouns and a numbr ov very comon wurds or soe cauld ideograms), practicaly agrees with the prezent orthogyafy in mor than haaf the numbr ov the wurds ocurying on wun printid padge. I hav not ventured to prezent to the English publik a purely fonetik alfabit, contaneing a hoste ov letrs not found in the Roman alfabit, which is the comon inaelienabl property and baesis ov neerly aul European langgwidges, English French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, etc. I hav resistid the temptation ov overlodeng the Roman letrs with inuemerabl marks, priks, and dots, aaftr the manr ov Bullokar, Hodges, and udhrs, for this wood hav ment the cuting ov nue expensiv type, and noe speling reform at aul. I hav tried to avoid as far as posibl the use ov spelings which mae hav a vulgr apeerens such as oner for honour, parden for pardon, maid for made, or to which there ar fue analodgys in the prezent orthografy, e.g., cee for key, euz for use, yunivers for universe, etc. At the same time I do not beleev in haaf mezures, but my sistem ofrs a numbr ov lodgical and consistent, thoe not aulwiz nue, spelings ov evry English sound. For this very reezn sum ov its forms mae apeer strandge to the jeneral reeder, but with the exeption ov a fue diegrafs, such as aa in aask (=ask), uu in suun (=soon), dh in badhe (=bathe), Anglic has fue spelings which ar not met with in manuescripts ov urly literery wurks or in the aensient corespondens ov roialty and noebelmen. Thus to giv oenly a fue ilustrations King Henry VIII. repeetidly rote won for one in holograaf letrs, and his dautr Queen Elizabeth went in for such spelings as stauke for stalk, and clack, hart, for clerk, heart.

"Shakespeare and the Bibel ar good enuf for me," sez the averidg Englishman, and razes his hands in hoely horor at the very thaut ov speling reform. But in the Foelio Edition ov Shakespeare's wurks, which at leest in sum cases reproduces his one orthografy, we note tuch for touch, vane, hare, sale, tanted, for vain, hair, sail, tainted, and in contemporary letrs and manuescripts we ofn hit upon such spelings as groe, bloe, thurd, etc., for grow, blow, third. Milton and Dryden rote sed for said.

Anglic oenly ames at bringing ordr into the prezent confuzion by jeneralizeng the moste comon ov the egzisting speling vaerients. Thus ee is ritn for the comon sound in such wurds as feel, chief, mean, people, receive, i or ie for the sound in like, lie, diet, high, height, by, buy, sign, guile, aisle, which at prezent is spelt in 21 diferent waes, ur for the sound in urn, fern, third, learn, now rendrd in 16 waes, etc. [1]

The triel corsis in Anglic at Uppsala wer finisht on Mae 30 this yeer (20 lesns ov 1½ ours on the baesis ov Zachrisson: Snabbkurs i engelska). Vaerios lesns hav been atendid by sum ov our formoste educationalists, such as Rector Magnificus Prof. Undén, Hed ov the Ueniversity ov Uppsala, Prof. Bárány, N.P., Prof. Lundell, the grate fonetician, Mr. W. Rydén, formerly Ministr ov Education, Dr. Kärre, the English expert on the Swedish Bord ov Education, etc. Aul these hav exprest as their opinion that Anglic has pruuvd very helpful and saves much time and laber in lurning English and that the transition to ordinery English takes plase very eezyly. Reprezentativs ov aul our leeding nuespapers hav asurtid in their reports ov the finel lesn that the rezults wer "astonishing," "splendid," &c.

On Juun 4 was formd the Anglic Fund (with a capital ov £4000) for the purpos ov makeng Anglic uzed and none aul over the wurdd. Tuu daes later a meeting took plase in Uppsala at which was formd The Anglic Asoeciation (Uppsala Section: Prezident Prof. Zachrisson, v. Prezident Prof. M. Siegbahn, N.P., Secretery H. Kökeritz, Phil. Lic.). The object ov the Anglic Asoeciation is to furdhr the solution ov the problem ov an international langgwage, fasilitating by this meenz international co-operation and peesful intercors between the nations.

The organ ov The Anglic Asoeciation is ANGLIC, Educational Revue, the furst numbr ov which wil apeer at the end ov this munth.

The Anglic cors is now aulso avaelabl on gramofone records, spoken by Mr. and Mrs. A. Lloyd James.

Anglic, which reprezents sounds not by meenz ov fonetik simbls but thru the meedium ov the nuetral Roman alfabit, does not faver idher the British or the American Standerd pronunsiation, but can be uzed in New York as wel as in London, in Aberdeen as wel as in San Francisco. In the smaul numbr ov iesolated wurds where the American and the British uezage difr (Brit.: clark, Americ.: clurk) we hav as a ruul reproduced the British pronunsiation, which at leest at prezent is comon in aul scuuls on the Continent.

At a conferens held in London this yeer between Swedish reprezentativs ov the Anglic muuvment and leeding British and American speling-reformrs incluuding Sur Mark Hunter, Profesr Daniel Jones, Mr. Walter Ripman, Dr. A. Lloyd James and Dr. Godfrey Dewey, the conferees agreed to giv the Anglic muuvment (aaftr surtn simpl but important aulterations had been made [2]): "their full support and co-operation in their respective countries and thru their respective organisations so far as practicable, both as an international auxiliary language and as a basis for reform ov English spelling for the English-speaking world."

Profesr Gilbert Murray, prezident ov the SSS, was not abel to be prezent at the conferens, but has exprest his concurrens and worm simpathy with the muuvment.

It has been argued that it wood be an unfare advaantidg to England and America if English was made the ueniversl langgwidg. The cheef aprehensions ar probably that the English-speeking cuntrys wood heerby obtane meens ov overruuling the hole comersial Comonwelth. A jeneral nolidg ov English wood, houevr, from a meerly comersial point ov vue meen increest fasilitys not oenly to England and America but aulso to aul udhr cuntrys. Nor wood a wurld-wide nolidg ov English meen a monopoly in the relm ov thaut and letrs, for aul books ov standerd value, from whatevr nation they hale, wood be translated into the international langgwidg and consequently enjoy a would-wide circulation. Wile travling in Germany and France I hav ofn spokn French with Russians, Spaniards, and Italians, but I had noe iedeea I was thus strengthning the grip ov France over the wurld or weekning the pozition ov the udhr cuntrys.

To the averidg English or American reedr the case mae be sumd up as folos: Jeneraly speeking we hav noe reezn to prefur English to udhr langgwidgis, but the hole wurld wants it for international purposis. What is an advaantidg to us wil aulso be an advaantidg to you. Now this very much desired end can be reecht much mor eezyly if you consent to reform yor speling. This is comon sens, and I am convinst there is noe staunshr beleevr in comon sens than you.

In its nue shape Anglic is "Simplified Speling" braut up-to-date, wurkt out in evry deetale, puerified from evry dout and ambiguity. We ar thus abel to plase befor the authoritys a definit plan for a nue speling sistem which morover has been poot to nuemerus practical tests.


[1] For deetales, see R. E. Zachrisson, English in Easy Spelling, sec. ed., Uppsala 1929, and Snabbhurs i engelsha i enhel enhetlig nystavning, Uppsala, 1930 and infra.

[2] Nue editions ov English in Easy Spelling and ov the Primer (Snabbkurs, etc.) incorporating these aulterations ar now being publisht.

A breef outline: Anglic or a Nue Scheme of Simplified English Speling is already avaelabl. The prezent articl is ritn in the oridginal speling.

But Spelling Should be Uniform.

The dream of a universal language has often filled the minds of cultivated men in their waking hours. It made a forceful appeal to the keen intelligence of Leibnitz. It inspired the linguistic theories of such men as Bishop Wilkins and Lord Monboddo. They conceived, not unjustly, that if they could reverse or annul the curse pronounced at the building of the Tower of Babel, they would earn a high place for themselves among the benefactors of humanity.

In recent times philologists have made various attempts to invent a language which should be at once so simple, so expressive, and so scientific as to command the assent and to ensure the intercourse of all civilised peoples. The languages, which are variously known as Volapuk, Esperanto, and Ido, are artificial languages, carefully devised for the purpose of facilitating oral communication everywhere.

Growth of Language.

But although these languages have been strenuously upheld by their several votaries, no one of them has come or apparently will come near to universal adoption. The fact is that a language is a natural growth, not a mechanical product. It cannot be arbitrarily constructed. It must spring, as it were, of itself from the soil of human nature.

An artificial language, then, is and must be, incapable of serving all the occasions of a natural language, or of expressing, like a natural language, all the shades of meaning for which such a language is used.

A World Tongue.

But in default of an artificial language which offers at least some hope of universality, it is necessary to ask: Is there any existing language which may, and perhaps will, come to be spoken all over the world? If there is such a language, it can hardly be any other than the English. French was once, and for a long time, the rival of English, but the popularity of the French language began to fail as soon as the range of ordinary communication among the peoples passed from Europe to the larger world outside Europe.

It is well known that, when Gibbon thought of writing his "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," he first consulted his fellow-historian, Robertson, about the language in which it should be written. Gibbon was almost equally master both of the English and the French languages. Robertson strongly urged him to write the book in English, because the United States of America, insignificant as they were at the end of the 18th century, yet seemed to promise the English language an ultimate extension which would lie beyond the reach of the French language.

The Spread of English.

Since Robertson gave that advice, events have greatly augmented its reasonableness. Not the French, but the Spanish language will in the future probably come next to English in the number of persons who speak it. But the English-speaking population of the United States has now risen to one hundred and twenty millions; and the three hundred and twenty millions of people in India, as they come to be educated, will more and more tend to be English-speaking.

In Japan not only is English widely understood, as I can testify from my experience in the University of Tokio, but the names of the stations are put up upon the platforms in English as well as in Japanese; and in China, "pidgin" English, as it is called, is the chief, if not the only means of communication among all the multitudinous races which make up the population of that vast country. Nay, in Europe itself, English has become, like French, the diplomatic language. The late Czar and the ex-Kaiser were wont to correspond in English. It is with surprise that an English traveller in remote parts of the world discovers how many natives in Eastern as well as in Western countries possess some command, greater or smaller, of his own language.

Good and Bad Linguists.

It may be safely stated that the peoples who are good linguists are those whose own languages possess little value outside their own countries; and those who are bad linguists are those whose languages are more or less widely used outside their own countries. Thus the Russians are generally far better able to speak foreign languages than the English or the French. But English is so much more likely than any other language to become universal, and the universality of English, as indeed of any one language, would be so great a blessing to mankind, that I have sometimes been tempted to doubt whether English men and women can well speak foreign languages, except at the cost of retarding the day when the whole earth shall again be "of one language and of one speech."

Reform Needed.

But if English is destined to be, at however remote a date, the universal language of mankind, there is one reform which ought, so far as is possible, to be effected. The difficulty of spreading it over the world is greatly increased by the vagaries of English pronunciation.

The late Lord Bryce, who was distinguished both as a traveller and as a writer, stated towards the end of his long life the definite opinion that the reform of English spelling was essential to the propagation of the English language. The learning of English would be immensely facilitated, if the same letters were always pronounced in the same way. It is enough to cite such words as bough, cough, clough, dough, enough, hough, plough, rough, sough, slough, though, through to show how many are the ways in which the same combination of letters may be pronounced.


How is a foreigner to acquaint himself with all these varieties of pronunciation? It is in the interest of the English language itself that I would plead the cause of simplified spelling. If the simplification were to begin, and to begin in elementary and secondary schools, at a certain date, it would gradually come into general usage, and the learning of English would no longer be so heavy a task as it now is.

The reform would, I think, be well worth making; for the English language is perhaps the noblest asset of the English-speaking world; and they who speak the English language should be of all people the most unwilling to discourage other people from learning it.

I will only add, in view of an appeal which has lately been made in the columns of the Evening World, that I hope all possible pains will be taken to prevent the vulgarisation of the English language by phrases which possess no warrant or sanction in its long history. That the well of English should remain undefiled is the true interest of the English-speaking world. The authorised version of the Bible and the plays of Shakespeare have established a true standard of the English language, although it is not always remembered that Shakespeare was living when the authorised version was published; and so long as they are familiarly known to the English-speaking world, the English language may, I hope, be expected to retain its ancient dignity, no less than its modern utility.


(By kind permission of "The Evening World.")

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