Printing and When printing was first introduced into Europe there was no standard of spelling, but attempts at spelling invariably conformed more or less to the sound of the word. As this sound was frequently quite different in different localities the at tempts to represent it phonetically produced widely varying results. A similar result may be seen to-day in the conscious attempts of certain British writers to reproduce the Low land Scotch, Yorkshire, Cumberland, Devon shire and other dialects and of American dialect writers topresent graphically the manners of speaking English of the negro, the various foreigners in the country, the New England, Ohio, Western and Southern dialects. As there is no prescribed standard for the representa tion of these dialects so there is no uniformity of spelling employe,d by the different dialect writers. This condition represents well the lack of uniformity in spelling among writers of English previous to the introducing of spelling and even for some time afterward. But the multiplicity of books made possible by the in vention of the printing oress, the vast reduc tion in the cost of reproduction and the conse quent spread of the printed word from the commercial centres made the imposition of some standard of spelling necessary. Unfortu nately the imposition of this standard came at a time when the English language was still rapidly undergoing phonetic changes, and the standardized spelling made no provision for the modification of itself in conformity with the changes taking place. The Renaissance brought into the English language many foreign words, generally in their native dress, and these in troduced new sounds and letters and combina tions of letters, thus adding to the confusion, which became gradually greater as many of these foreign words, in the mouths of the il literate, were modified in pronunciation while still preserving more or less closely their original spelling. In the course of time these various many-sided influences, syllables and sounds that were pronounced, at an earlier stage of the language, became mute; but still the rules of printing and custom engendered by them retained them. These attempts to pro mote a certain arbitrary uniformity and ac curacy, while beneficial, contributed power fully to the increase of the confusion already existing, by failing to provide for the recogni tion of signs becoming mute and of syllables and letters changing their phonetic value. This naturally continued to increase the ambiguity of the phonetic values of the letters of the alphabet and to augment the irregularities in their use. No longer the name or given value of a letter and its sounds in actual use corresponded. To such an extent has this confusion been carried that there is, at present, not a single letter in the English alphabet that does not represent two or more sound values. The vowels, being
the actual voice sounds, are the most irregular in this respect. An analysis of these sounds is most suggestive of the confusion existing in English phonetics. Thus o has 10 sounds; a e, and u have nine each; i has eight; while y has two as a vowel and three as a consonant. Were these sounds not duplicated they would represent 48 different vowels; but they are constantly replacing one another, thus making confusion more confounded to the foreigner who attempts to learn the English language. The confusion in the use of the consonants is great. One of them, c, has six sounds; four, j, s, t and x, have five sounds each; three, d, g, have four each; six, f, h, 1, n, q, 'have three each; and the remaining seven have two each. The confusion in English orthography is still further increased by the presence of a great number of silent letters, some of which, how ever, serve to determine the value of other let ters. There are but 44 sounds in the English language yet they are represented by about 500 symbols and combinations thereof with their various applications.
Phonetic Spelling.— Many attempts have been made at phonetic spelling, and the more scientific of these have come pretty near per fection, the failure to achieve perfection being due, in some cases, to a desire to achieve the practical over the purely scientific and phonetic. The best of these attempts have been made by the writers of methods of shorthand, one of the earliest and most satisfactory of which was that of Isaac Pitman (q.v.), which, with its derivatives, is the most widely used of short hand systems. Pitman furnished an alphabet of 24 consonant and six long and six short vowel sounds, as follows: Consonants, p, b, t, d, ch. j, k, g (in go), f, v, th (in thigh), th in thy) s, z, sh, zh, m, n, ing, 1, r, w, y, h; long vowels a (oh), a (say), e (see), a(all), o, oo; short vowels, a (that), e (men), i (is), o (not), u (much), u (good). For this purpose Pitman invented a series of new symbols quite distinct from those of the ordinary Roman alphabet, and he added a series of four diphthong sym bols representing the sounds i, ow (now), of (boy) and ou (you). These diphthong sym bols and the sh, zh and the two th sounds are but duplications of sounds already expressed by other simple symbols in the Pitman alphabet. The work of Pitman and of some 200 workers in the field of shorthand together with many who have followed in his foot-steps has tended toward the simplification of English spelling to some small degree so far as the actual re forms accomplished. But the work is really greater than it appears, since the moral in fluence and the example of success attained of shorthand writers are already strongly thrown in the balance for radical and effective spelling reform, the demand for which growing slowly but nevertheless surely. See SHORTHAND;