In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt tried to shorten the spellings of about 300 words. Although the presidential directive was overturned by Congress, there was still a surge of support for this measure pushed by the Simplified Spelling Board. This article checked in a decade later to see whether most of the shortened spellings took off. But what about a century later?
In 2016, we indeed use honor instead of honour, check instead of cheque or checque, hiccup instead of hiccough, maneuver instead of manoeuvre, and plow instead of plough. But we haven’t substituted stedfast for steadfast, or wo for woe.
I particularly enjoyed this masterfully crafted sentence from the 1916 article, about proposed spelling changes:
But thru and thruout aroused the most excited protests. They were denounced as diabolical specimens of orthographic mayhem.
Is Spelling Reform, Ten Years Old, a Success?: Professor Brander Matthews Finds That the Public Has Had a Change of Heart and Is No Longer Contemptuously Hostile
From August 27, 1916
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