H.L. Mencken > The American Language > Subject Index > Page 244
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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956).  The American Language.  1921.

Page 244
 
to be adopted without a long struggle or likely to cause errors in pronunciation. To the first class belonged tung for tounge, ruf for rough, batl for battleand abuv for above, and to the second such forms as cach for catch and troble for trouble. The result was that the whole reform received a set-back: the public dismissed the reformers as a pack of dreamers. Twelve years later the National Education Association received the movement with a proposal that a beginning be made with a very short list of reformed spellings, and nominated the following by way of experiment: tho, altho, thru, through, thoro, thoroly, thorofare, program, prolog, catalog, pedagog and decalog. This scheme of gradual changes was sound in principle, and in a short time at least two of the recommended spellings,program and catalog, were in general use. Then, in 1906, came the organization of the Simplified Spelling Board, with an endowment of $15,000 a year from Andrew Carnegie, and a formidable list of members and collaborators, including Henry Bradley, F. I. Furnivall, C. H> Grandgent, W. W. Skeat, T. R. Lounsbury and F. A. March. The board at once issued a list of 300 revised spellings, new and old, and in August, 1906, President Rooselvet ordered their adoption by the Government Printing Office. But this unwise effort to hasten matters, combained with the buffoonery characteristically thrown about the matter by Roosevelt, served only to raise up enemies, and then, though it has prudently gone back to more discret endeavors and now lays main stress upon the original 12 words of the National Education Association, the board has not made a great deal of progress. 36 From time to time it issues impressive lists of newspapers and periodicals that have made them optional, but an inspection of these lists shows that very few publications of any importance have been converted and that most of the great universities still hesitate. 37 It has, however, greatly reinforced the authority behind many of Webster’s spellings, and aided by the Chemical>
Note 36.  Its second list was published on January 28, 1908, its third on Janurary 25, 1909, and its fourth on March 24, 1913, and since then there have been several others. But most its literature is devoted to the 12 words and to certain reformed spellings of Webster, already in general use. [back]
Note 37.  In April, 1919, it claimed 556 newspapers and periodicals, with a circulation of 18,000,000, and 460 universities, colleges and normal schools. [back]

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