The Early 20th Century Society That Tried to Make English Spelling More Intuitive

English is such a complex and involved language, and many could argue that it’s perhaps too complicated. There are so many tenses in English, not to mention words that are spelled differently, and mean different things, but are pronounced the same – their, there, they’re. In fact, English can be such a complex and difficult language, that we often wonder how people can learn it.

Have you ever just hoped and prayed that the English language would just be that little bit simpler? Slightly less complicated and forced, and a little bit more intuitive? Well, it won’t surprise you to hear that you’re not the only one. In fact, in the early part of the 20th Century, there was a society that was created to try to make English spelling and language more simple – let’s find out more about them.

London Simplified Spelling Society

At the turn of the 20th Century, the LSSS was just one of the groups that were pushing for the simplification of the English language in terms of spelling. The group published its first journal in around 1912, which detailed how tricky and unreasonable English spelling was. In fact, one of the first things the group championed was the idea that there should be alternate ways of spelling words. They hoped that this idea would catch on, but it seems like not everyone shared their sentiments.

Pronunciation guide

In fact, the London Simplified Spelling Society even included and came up with a pronunciation guide. This was a guide that included many different alternate pronunciations of words that can be deciphered easily. You might have seen this guide before, and, if you haven’t, let us tell you it’s a little bit OTT. In fact, in some ways, this guide is almost more complicated and difficult to decipher than the spellings they were originally trying to combat. If you ever get a chance to check out this guide, make sure you do, it’s a curious and fascinating read.

Good company

Those who created the society found themselves in good company, for there were many people around that time calling for a reform of the English language, and spelling in particular. Indeed, even Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, were in favor of spelling reform. In fact, Irish playwright and polemicist George Bernard Shaw was actually a member of the London Simplified Spelling Society. So it’s clear there were many people, even well-known people, who worked with spelling and words, who supported the spelling reform that was put forward.

As you can see, there are a lot of complexities that remain with the English language and spelling. Anyone who has tried to learn English as a foreign language, or teach spelling to children will understand how difficult it can be. And it’s clear that even far back in the early part of the 20th Century people shared that viewpoint. Perhaps it is time to rethink the way that we spell words and look for a simpler way of exploring our wonderful language.