Review of Let’s End Our Literacy Crisis (Bob C. Cleckler)

Let’sEndOurLiteracyCrisis,2ndRev download ebook free

This is an okay book about spelling reform. It includes argumentation for why spelling reform is needed. Some useful literature overview and references. Its tone is not very academic, and its style somewhat bombastic at times. I wud have prefered a more serious book. Still, this may be what is needed to convince some people. I will also be looking into some of the mentioned material. In particular:


  • Diane McGuinness, Ph.D., Why Our Children Can’t Read (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997)
  • Dr. Mont Follick, Reform English Spelling (London: Jason Press, 1946)
  • Sir James Pitman, Alphabets and Reading (New York: Pitman Publishing Company, 1969)
  • Traugott Rohner, Fonetic English Spelling (Evanston, Ill.: Fonetic English Spelling Assoc., 1966)
  • Lounsbury, Thomas R., LL.D, L.H.D. English Spelling and Spelling Reform. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1909.


Amazon reviews:


Below follows from quotes from the book, and some comments, and at last, an analysis of the system.




Page 61 of the 2002 report shows that the percentages of Levels 3

through 5 adults who were in poverty were 12, 7.67, and 4.67, respective-

ly (averaging the prose, document and quantitative literacy data). When

these percentages are multiplied by the number of adults in each level, it

shows the number of adults in each level who were in poverty. Adding the

total number of adults in poverty in Levels 1 and 2 and Levels 3 through 5

and dividing by the total number of adults in those two groupings of levels

shows that 31.2% of Levels 1 and 2 were in poverty, but only 10.1% of

Levels 3 through 5 were in poverty. Although there are many reasons for

poverty, since the report statistically balanced the interviewees by age,

gender, ethnicity, location, etc. and since there is no obvious provable

differences other than literacy level, if 10.1 percent is taken as being the

poverty not resulting from illiteracy and is deducted from the 31.2 per-

cent, the resulting 21.1 percent due to illiteracy, when compared to 10.1

percent, provides strong evidence that illiteracy causes more than twice

as many adults to be in poverty as all other causes combined.


Besides obivously intelligence?!



“Statistics Canada, which carried out the same kind of testing in the

United States, Canada, and five non-English-speaking European countries,

replicated these findings for the United States [in 1994]. The study also

showed that U.S. high school students and young adults (16 to 25 years

old) were six times more likely to be functionally illiterate (Level 1) than

those in Sweden…. Only 13 percent of today’s 16- to 25-year-olds [in the

U.S.] scored at Levels 4 and 5.” 10


If you think that the above does not apply to college graduates and

graduate students, on December 26, 2005 the Washington Post stated,


“Literacy experts and educators say they are stunned by the results of

a recent adult literacy assessment, which shows that the reading pro-

ficiency of college graduates has declined in the past decade, with no

obvious explanation….

The test measures how well adults comprehend basic instruc-

tions and tasks through reading—such as computing costs per ounce

of food items, comparing viewpoints on two editorials and reading

prescription labels. Only 41 percent of graduate students tested in

2003 could be classified as “proficient” in prose-reading and under-

standing information in short texts—down 10 percentage points since

1992. Of college graduates, only 31 percent were classified as profi-

cient—compared with 40 percent in 1992.”11


The obvious hypothesis, is that it becus colleges began drawing on a larger pool of people, and thus decreasing the intelligence of those admitted. This is testable. Compare 2003 and 1992 in college admissions. This number is rising a lot in Denmark, and i seem to recall it rising in the US as well. I googled around but cudnt find any data from the two years ago. For some reason its difficult to find.


I did find some circumstancial or imperfect data, like these:


See also


Overall it seems that im right about that. At least, thats part of the reason.


Anyone who has doubts about [that there are many illiterates living among us] should read John

Corcoran’s book, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read. Mr. Corcoran graduated from Texas Western College in 1961 with a degree in education. He admits that he cheated on tests in college—although

he states in his book, “I am not advocating cheating.” He had gotten into college without taking entrance exams because he had an athletic scholarship.

Amazingly, he became a teacher of tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades in California, where he taught for eighteen years, without being able to read! He taught social studies, typing, history, physical education, and one year he even taught English. Although his wife thought for twenty-five years that he could read, even if he couldn’t read well, she didn’t know that he could hardly read at all until she overheard him trying to read a simple child’s story to their three-year-old. It was not until then that she came to understand the emotional pain he had been living with all those years. He suffered emotional pain caused by feeling there was something wrong with him which prevented him from learning, by having to develop so many coping methods to hide his illiteracy, and by feeling alienated from his associates who could read.



I take it you already know

of tough and bough and cough and dough.

Others may stumble, but not you,

on hiccough, thorough, lough and through.

Well done! And now you wish perhaps,

to learn of less familiar traps?


Beware of heard, a dreadful word

that looks like beard and sounds like bird,

and dead: it’s said like bed, not bead

for goodness’ sake don’t call it “deed”!

Watch out for meat and great and threat

(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt.)


A moth is not a moth in mother

nor both in bother, broth in brother,

and here is not a match for there

nor dear and fear for bear and pear,

and then there’s dose and rose and lose

just look them up and goose and choose,

and cork and work and card and ward,

and font and front and word and sword,

and do and go and thwart and cart.


Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!

A dreadful language? Man alive.

I’d mastered it when I was five.


T. S. Watt





Most Americans are surprised to learn that pronunciations are usually

omitted from foreign language dictionaries. They are not needed because

the spelling adequately represents the pronunciation. They are even more

surprised to learn that students of other languages do not have spelling

classes throughout most of grade school, as our students do. “As ex-

plained by a Spanish student: ‘In Spain the teacher tells us the sounds of

the letters and then we can write or read any thing we can say.'” 7


I think all the scandinavian countries have pronunciation data in their dictionaries. But its a good point. Pronunciation data is superflouos if the spelling is regular.



Edward Rondthaler of the American Literacy Council points out, “A

1986 round table of British linguists called by eminent scholars to discuss

the underlying pattern of English spelling concluded, not surprisingly, that

only one rule in our spelling is not watered down with exceptions: No

word in English ends with the letter V.” 9

Since Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary lists the words rev and spiv, there are therefore NO invariable English spelling rules. If you cannot learn to spell by rules, then you

must learn by memorization and repetition. Many inconsistencies could

be highlighted, such as the different sounds of the double Cs in occa-

sional and accident (pronounced like K and like KS, respectively) or the

double Gs in egg, exaggerate, and suggest (pronounced like G, J, or GJ,

respectively). Perhaps the most impressive English spelling inconsistency

is the following:



Comparative Difficulty of English vs. Other


Noah Webster argued against the effort to freeze spelling in the introduc-

tion to his 1806 English dictionary. On page vi he states,


Every man of common reading knows that a living language must

necessarily suffer gradual changes in its current words, in the signifi-

cations of many words, and in pronunciation. The unavoidable con-

sequence then of fixing the orthography [spelling] of a living lan-

guage, is to destroy the use of the alphabet. This effect has, in a de-

gree, already taken place in our language; and letters, the most use-

ful invention that ever blessed mankind, have lost and continue to

lose a part of their value, by no longer being the representatives of

the sounds originally annexed to them. Strange as it may seem, the

fact is undeniable, that the present doctrine that no change must

be made in writing words, is destroying the benefits of an alphabet,

and reducing our language to the barbarism of Chinese characters

instead of letters.11


Some linguists may consider this an overstatement, but English is by

far the most inconsistent and illogical of the alphabetic spelling systems

and therefore the hardest to learn.


I wonder how one compares english to danish in this regard. DA spelling system is pretty fucked up as well. Im not completely confident the english one is worse.



The plan, though thoroughly thought through, was all for nought

when the rough trough full of cough and hiccough medicine made from

a hemlock tree bough floated down the shough into a Scottish lough

and sank to the bottom.


another gem



We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes.

But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.


Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese.

Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.


You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,

but the plural of house is houses, not hise.


If the plural of man is always called men,

why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?


The cow in the plural may be cows or kine.

But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.


And I speak of foot and you show me your feet,

but I give you a boot—would a pair be called beet?


If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,

why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?


If the singular is this and the plural is these,

should the plural of kiss be nicknamed kese?


Then one may be that, and three may be those,

yet the plural of hat would never be hose.


We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,

but though we say mother, we never say methren.


The masculine pronouns are he, his, and him.

But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim!


So our English, I think you will all agree,

is the trickiest language you ever did see!



and another, altho this one has not to do with spelling, but with irregular plurals. these are harder to fix, but one shud still try. just make all the regular forms ‘correct’ as well. so goose and goooses/geese.



Wood yew believe that eye didn’t no

about homophones until too daze ago?

That day inn hour class inn groups of fore,

we had two come up with won ore moor.


Mary new sicks; enough too pass,

butt my ate homophones lead thee class.

Then a thought ran threw my head,

“Urn a living from homophones,” it said.


Aye guess eye joust sat and staired into space.

My hole life seamed two fall into plaice.

Hour school’s principle happened too come buy,

and asked about the look inn my aye.


“Sur,” said eye as bowled as could bee,

“My future rode aye clearly sea.”

“Sun,” said he, “move write ahead,

set sell on you’re coarse. Don’t bee misled.”


Aye herd that gnus with grate delight.

Eye will study homophones both day and knight.

Fore weeks and months, threw thick ore thin,

Aisle pursue my ghole. Aye no isle wynn.



this is the absolute best! and very difficult to read as well.



There is no question that English spelling reform is long overdue. The pre-

sent practice of attempting to teach all American youth to read and spell

English is the foremost example of conspicuous consumption of a nation’s

resources since the building of the pyramids. Unfortunately for many chil-

dren, the belief is still widely held that our economy can still afford this

cruel waste….

It would be unbecoming of educators not to attempt hundreds of

new and devious approaches to the problem rather than advocating the

one logical (and eventually inevitable) solution.1


Arthur W. Heilman, Ph.D.

Phonics in Proper Perspective



Nice comparison.



Figure 8

NuEnglish spelling rules

Format to use on Magazine and Book Title Pages

and on Newspaper and Newsletter Mastheads


This shows how to read the simplif ied spel ling system, NuEnglish, you may see in this

reading material. The 14 vowels and 24 consonants (in bold, italicized capi tals, for high-

lighting) have only ONE pronunciation. (No emphasis—capital, bold, ital ic, underline, or

color—affects pronunciat ion in NuEnglish.)


1. The A, E, I, O, and U are pronounced as in “That pet did not run.”

2. The AE, EE, IE, OE, and UE are pronounced as in “Mae Green tried roe glue.” These

vowels may, instead, be spelled with a macron (a straight line above a, e, i, o, or u) as

in “Thā .ēt frīd tōfū.”

3. The AU, OI, OO, and OU are pronounced as in “Haul good oil out.”

4. The 18 single consonants are pronounced as in “YeS, VaL ‘ZiP’ KiM HiD ouR BiG FaN-

JeT Win.”

5. Six consonant sounds are spelled with two letters:

(1) CH is pronounced as in “chip.” This is the only way the letter C is used in NuEnglish.

(2) SH and (3) NG are pronounced as in “wishing,”

(4) ZH is pronounced as in muzhik. (Muzhik is an English word for a Russian peasant

in which the zh is pronounced the same as the S in treasure.)

(5) TH is pronounced as in “then,” and

(6) TT is pronounced the same as the TH in “thin.” This is because English spells the

sounds in “thin” and “then” the same.

6. Two letters represent more than one basic sound.

(1) The X is used only for the KS blend.

(2) The Q (not QU) is used only for the KW blend. All the other sounds of X and Q are

spelled out.

7. Traditional English spelling does not distinguish between the vowel sounds in “sue” and “fuel.”

NuEnglish spells the vowel sound in “sue” as ue and the sound in “fuel” as yue—sue and

fyuel in NuEnglish. (This is equivalent to placing an F sound before the word “Yule”).

8. The initial sound in words like “which” are actually pronounced as HW. Air is expelled

before the W sound, so it is spelled that way: hwich.

9. Sometimes the same letter is used at the end of one syllable and the start of the next

syllable. For example, the two Gs in the NuEnglish spelling “fingger” (finger in tradi-

tional spelling) are in two syllables. This is not a violation of the next rule, Rule 10.

10. There are no silent letters and no double letters having a single sound except OO and

TT. (If macrons are not used, the EE is also used for a single sound.)

11. All sounds are shown except the NG sound in NK and NX as in “bank” and “jinx.”

12. To show the accent, an asterisk is placed before the vowel in a primary accented syll a-

ble, but an asterisk is not used if the primary accent is on the first syllable .

13. Numbers are used instead of spelling out the number unless numbers are required to be

spelled out. Numbers must be spelled out on some legal documents, such as on a check.

Numbers should be spelled when numbers could be confused with letters such as I, L, or O.


There are other spelling rules to standardize your spelling if you want to be very sure that

what you write in NuEnglish will be easily understood. These rules can be found at and in the Spelling Rules section in Chapter 6 of Let’s End Our Liter-

acy Crisis, (Revised Edition or Second Revbision) by Bob Cleckler.



So, a table like the one i produced for New Spelling wud look something like this:


Sound (in IPA) Spelling Examples
p p pin
b b bin
t t tin
d d din
k k kin, cat→kat
g g got
f f fat
v v vat
s s sin
z z zest
j y yes, fuel→fyuel/fyul
l l van
m m mint
n n not
w w win
ʤ j jinn, gin→jin
h h him
ɹ r run


ch chip
ʃ sh wish
ʒ zh vision→vizhun
ŋ ng (nk, nx) thing (tank, jinx)
ð th then


tt thin


x ax


q quit→qit
short simple vowels
æ a that
ɛ e pet
ɪ i did
ɒ o not
ʌ u run
long vowels and diphthongs
ae/a Mae/ma, may→mae/ma
i: ee/e green/gren
ie/i tried/trid, try→trie/tri
əʊ oe/o roe/ro
u: ue/u glue/glu, noon→nuen/nun
ɔ: au haul, draw→drau
ɔɪ oi oil, coin→koin
ou count→kount, town→toun
ʊ oo good


Some comments.


1) Most strange is the choice of overlines instead of some symbol that is already found on a normal keyboard, like ´, `, ^, ¨, ~.


2) Inconsistent with the authors claims around the book, this system is not one-to-one, since it has both the redundant Q and X that complicate the rules for /k/ and /w/ fonemes. They are spelled K and W except when they are together in a syllable, then they are suddenly Q.


3) System is pretty much identical to New Spelling. Which is good, since it shows that there is generally agreement about which way to move the spelling.


4) The choice of TT for /θ/ is odd. Especially given the author’s dislike of doubled letters.


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