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The Inital Teaching Alphabet (ITA) was the brainchild of Sir James Pitman, who was also the inventor of Pitman's Shorthand, and was created in an attempt to reduce the amount of time it took to teach children how to read.

ITA is Sir James' extrapolation of his grandfather, Sir Isaac Pitmans ideas regarding 'phonotypy', and is essentially a phonemic system consisting of a reduced set of the Roman alphabet, as 'q' and 'x' are not used in the ITA, alongside 20 special characters to represent composite letter sounds such as 'oo' 'ng' and 'th'. All sentences written in the alphabet are also only written in lower case to provide uniformity.

ITA was introduced to UK schools in 1961, and proved popular enough to spread to the USA and Australia two years later. Children were expected to use ITA until the age of seven, before making the change to regular English. The thinking behind it was the a significant proportion of words in the English language are not spelt in the same way as they are pronounced. An example of this can be seen with the words through, though, bough, and cough, and Pitman hoped to make the language more logical and in doing so aid learning.

Although the teaching of ITA was never adopted into the formal curriculum, it is still in use, most notably amongst the Thai Hmong community in Wisconsin

Sources include:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1523000/1523708.stm
http://www.itafoundation.org/
http://www.barnsdle.demon.co.uk/spell/itaaddis.html

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