I wrote a little while back about my opposition to simplifying the spelling of English, but today one of my colleagues mentioned that he remembered a simplified spelling system that was brought in at his school for a year or so. This must have been back in the late 60s.
The Initial Teaching Alphabet, or ITA, relied on more than 40 characters (our alphabet plus a number of other characters to represent different vowel combinations and sounds such as the 'ng' of 'ring') to spell words in a more consistent, phonetic way. My colleague recalls entire books being written in ITA.
The idea was that children would initially learn to read in ITA, then move over to conventional English spelling. A number of schools brought ITA in, but it was never considered a resounding success. Many people who used ITA seem to blame it for their poor spelling in later life.
Incidentally, all ITA text was written in lower case, so I suppose it should really be called ita.
My colleague later found a BBC article about ITA that is of interest if you want to find out more. Or you can also see the full ITA alphabet online.
I'd be interested to hear from any Engine Room readers that have memories of ITA. Bonus points for anyone who writes in using the ITA alphabet!
The ambiguous Oxford comma
4 days ago