Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The Imprint
Jackson, F. Ernest Mason, J. H. Johnston, Edward
Persistente ID:
It is curious to note that Typoclastes, as Mr. Johnston pointed out to 
me, would abandon the use of the small letters in favour of capitals. But 
he gives examples for comparison, and these to me are conclusive-against 
Mr. Bridges rightly holds it " a great advantage to have an alphabet 
which retains historical spellings as much as possible, and which shows a 
modified sound by a modified symbol." He cites the different pronuncia- 
tion of the word salvation in Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Shelley. But this 
assumes that the speakers are conscious of the changes they may make, 
but there is nothing in the sign itself to connect it with the sound : it is an 
arbitrary symbol, to which experience shows different people would give 
different values-quite unconsciously. For the change to be perceived, a 
visible language, an organic alphabet, would need to be used, and this 
involves some training in phonetics. 
Dr. Sweet says : " I feel convinced that the path of progress [of phonetic 
science] lies through the visible speech analysis, and that the first duty of 
the very few who have a practical command of it is to do what they can 
to spread the knowledge of it." Only when science has accurately system- 
atised the spoken sounds of a language, and defined them With precision, 
only then, and not while we rely on arbitrary association unaided, shall 
we be able to write symbols of sounds that will be understood and not 
merely interpreted. We need, then, the scientific organic system of signs 
for the use of the phonetician, the teacher, and the pronouncing dictionary, 
and alongside of it an alphabet on the lines of that suggested by Mr. 
The gain will be too great to be exaggerated, but the price will be 
enormous inconvenience. It will be far greater than the change the Germans 
are making from a Gothic alphabet to roman. It will be comparable to 
the introduction of the decimal system into our coinage, or of the 
metric system of measurement. 
This revolution would throw our printing ofiices out of gear, and the 
Press is intimately related to all our common life, and the inconvenience 
would be felt everywhere. 
" The really serious objection to any change in our spelling," says Mr. 
Bridges, " is, I believe, not suiiiciently seen. We now read our handwriting 
by word-units and not by letters ; and we recognise the units on the basis 
of the current universal spelling. IF ONCE THAT SPELLING BE 


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