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A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling
by Mark Twain (see below)

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

While this is often attributed to Mark Twain, it is disputed. Many claim that this is an excerpt from The Economist which was written by M.J. Shields (or M.J. Yilz at the end of the letter). The full text of this letter is available in Willard Espy's Words at Play and again in Giles Brandreth's The Joy of Lex. Scholars studying the works of Mark Twain don't have any evidence that this was Mark Twain who wrote this piece. Mark Twain did, however, present several lectures (mostly in his 70s) on the topic of spelling reform. Properly attributed lectures include Simplified Spelling which was written in 1899 which is a satire/response of another essay written by George Bernard Shaw and Cadmus which satirized writing reforms with a story of ancient Greece and Egypt.

Several 'reforms' listed in the essay is satirizing a particular reform that has been presented at one time or another.

  • Superfluous and silent letters - proposed by Noah Webster and Benjamin Franklin
  • Double consonants - proposal by a scribe called Orm in the year 1180
  • Cut Spelling proposal - see http://www.les.aston.ac.uk/book/cutspelhb.html for a book on one more recent (1996) proposal. This addresses the 'which' and 'one' in year 2.
  • Checked Spelling proposal - Deals with voiced, unvoiced sounds. See http://victorian.fortunecity.com/vangogh/555/Spell/CCS-nut.html For more information on this.


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