English for dyslexics

Dyslexia and Sayspel

Reading is easier than writing in that identifying a word and its meaning does not require knowing how to spell the word. In the case of writing however, it is expected that words be spelt ‘correctly’. Incorrect spellings result in poor school notes and have a discouraging effect on the self-esteem of the student who in other respects might be highly intelligent, as is often the case with dyslexics. Different styles of teaching them to spell have been tried with limited success.

Statistics show, the more phonetically consistent a spelling system, the higher the general literacy standards reached. The abnormally high percentage of poor spellers, illiterates and dyslexics in English speaking countries is the consequence of irregular English spelling.

Countries with phonetic languages, particularly throughout Europe, have a lower percentage of dyslexic sufferers than have English speaking countries. If no teaching system can produce satisfactory English literacy levels whereas a phonetic orthography obviously would, why is the appropriate action not taken? Even a small improvement in literacy standards could make a worthwhile difference in the quality of life for millions of individuals.

A major obstruction to the adoption of phonetic spelling, stems from those who can already read and write. Some imagine that phonetic spelling will undermine their present academic superiority over that of poor spellers, while others are agitated by the ‘trivial’ discovery of an unfamiliarity in simplified spellings. Still others claim that a spelling reform would cost too much and that classic books would be discarded or no longer understood. The chances are, that as hundreds of millions more people become literate, more classic books than ever will be published in standard and in phonetic spelling and will cost less.

The anti-reform dogmatists appear to be oblivious of the social plight caused by illiteracy and of how simple, phonetic spelling could help those who suffer with this handicap. What is easier for dyslexics is easier for all users of English, young or old and in every part of the world.

Sayspel focuses the 26 single letter symbols of the alphabet plus 19 double letter symbols (digraphs) onto the 45 sounds used in English speech. This means each sound will have its own symbol.

The Sayspel choice of which symbol for which sound is guided by English and Continental European phonetics. 700 million European plus 500 million Latin American populations, would welcome spellings closely related to Latin with many similarities to their native language.

American spelling reform for 400 million people with American accents will inevitably have a number of mainly insignificant differences to the European phonetic system.

As simplified spelling spreads, traditional spelling will continue to be widely written and read for decades to come. People will be free to work with either traditional or simplified spellings whichever they prefer. There will be no valid reason for anyone to oppose the preferred system of the other person. There can be little doubt however that with time, the majority will abandon irregular, traditional spellings in favor of simpler, shorter, phonetic spellings.

It is in the hands of dyslexics themselves, their relatives and their supportive teachers to persist that for social and humanitarian reasons, the option of phonetic English spelling be endorsed. Those who are convinced of Sayspels expedience could mount sustained pressure on educational institutions, publishers and the news media, ensuring success by approaching them frequently employing Sayspel phonetic spelling.

There are no laws binding us to spell according to English dictionaries but as stated, there will be people who will do what they can to discourage the use of simplified spelling. At some point, sections of the community, especially among the young, will inevitably pick up and spread easier English spelling until the responsible ministries and other relevant institutions wake up to its advantages, not the least of which will be the financial savings.

Using the one expedient spelling system distributed through the internet and CD’s by Sayspel supporters and other convinced activists, the opportunity to move the world towards speaking a simple common tongue can be grasped. The experience and persuasive engagement of compassion motivated dyslexics, their family, their friends, and their tutors will be a major factor in assuring success. The more supporters write, to teachers, departments of education, and their MPs, the more Sayspel will invest in a literate, educated, humane, prospering and hopefully, peaceful world.