English spelling is surely the invention of the devil himself

January 31, 1914.

January 31, 1914.

The difficulty in learning to spell.

At our school we have so many trials and troubles in learning to spell that I really think it is high time we tried, as some of your correspondents have pointed out, to make this branch of education easier.

We had a spelling lesson the other day, and the teacher showed me some of the absurdities of spelling. He said it was disgraceful that he was compelled to cram us with silly antiquated spelling puzzles, and these are a few of the words he asked us to write down and commit to memory:

bed, dead; bet, debt; ham, lamb; out, doubt; root, fruit; stuff, tough; lo, dough; cow, plough; key, quay; duty, beauty; lung, tongue; regard, guard; after, laughter; steeple, people; beef, thief; write, rite; wright, all right.

Teacher said there was a reference in one of Lytton’s novels to the possibility of English spelling having been invented by the devil, because it roused sinful thoughts about our ancestors who handed it down to us; and we had to write out a few samples of this kind:

psalm, hymn, damn, hallelujah, knight, knock, mnemonic, gnat, pneumatic, catarrh, reign, hour, buy, buoy, one, two, twelfth.

He said he had heard Professor Rippman lecturing on the best way of improving the spelling of English words, and that gentleman had declared that if the simple phonetic spelling advocated by the Simplified Spelling Society was put into operation, it would save us two weary years of grinding and would let us have a chance to be as well, if not better, educated than German children.

If that is true, I do hope we shall soon simplify spelling and thus make education better and less nonsensical.