Th Batl ov Britain nd ov speling
Yew Barrow Lodge, England, Sep. 1939. ritn in Sayspel
Az wor with Germany ttretnd, we childrn frm Broom House Lane priimri scuul nir Eccles, Salford-Manchester wur ivacyuaatd tu Grange-over-Sands, a smoul vilij bii th see in th hili laac district ov nortt west England. A fyu miilz autsiid Grange woz an anti-aircraft batri traaning camp frm wer targut flagz puld bihiind Hurricane nd Spitfire fiitr plaanz wur aamd at nd ocaashnli shredd bii acyurut, practis gunfiir frm daun beloo.

On Sundays, gooing tu nd frm th vilij church, mi ivacyuaashn frend, Terry Gough nd i boott 7 yirz oold, in march-step wud smartli saluut evri yuniformd airmn that we pasd. Lucing bac, i bileev it maad them praud; it surtnli did th tuu ov uz, wen thaa saluutd bac.

Thaa nd ther Hurricanes nd Spitfires bacd bii th unforgetubl cahm, difiiunt nd inspiiring speechz ov Winston Churchill, wur aur hirooz. Meni ov theez airmen wil suun aftrwurdz hav givn ther liivz in th Batl ov Britain, fout in th sciiz abuv Suthrn England
Supermarine Spitfire 1940

Oultugethr, ther wur for boiz nd for gurlz aajd 6 tu 10, bilitd at this casl-liic manshn could Yew Barrow Lodge, bilt nd livd in bii ritiird Curnl Porrit with hiz wiif nd oonli sun, Captn. R.W. Porrit huu we breefli sou in yuniform on his last vizit hoom. Trajicli, Captn. Porrit woz cild at Dunkirk in 1940, urli in th wor. He woz th furst membr ov parlimnt tu dii in th secnd wurld wor. I can stil sens th devustaashn brout upon hiz nobel perunts at th nyuz ov hiz dett .
Bicoz th vilij scuul woz smoul, ivacyueez wud atend morningz nd th childrn ov th vilij aftrnuunz. In adishn, a teechr woz brout intu Yew Barrow Lodge part-tiim. Mis Shaw woz hr naam. She woz mor strict than luving, wich cud xplaan aur ocaajhnl hoomsicnus.

Wons a muntt she asembld ol aat ov uz araund th larj diining houl taabl, tu riit hoom. It woz aur oon priivit batl, this tiim with wurdz; won wich aur perunts shorli apreeshiaatd.

Aur letrz olwaaz bigan, “Dear Mam and Dad, I am well nd happy.” It maa hav been cmpoozd bii th ministri ov difens fr yus bii ivacyueez, tu ceep up th morul ov sepraatd familiz.
Sins at th aaj ov sevn, riiting “Dear Mam and Dad, I am well and happy” woz eezi, we did not miind wot folood in that th rimaandr ov aur short individyual corispondns woz furst speld aut yuzing alfabet letr-cardz, laad aut on th taabl bifor uz. It woz a gesing gaam Mis Shaw did not enjoi.

She wud corect aur mispelingz bii riaraanjing th cards, acumpanid bii freeqnt admonishnz, purhaps aamd mor at English speling than at uz childrn.

Th episood at Yew Barrow Lodge endd dramaticli in 1941 wen a singl German bomr maad a niit raad on th manshn naamd Yew Barrow Lodge, lejhrli pasing ovr a numbr ov tiimz az we cidz maad a 100 yard dash fr it along th darc drive-way daun tu th vilij.
I rimembr mor vividli th rifreshing run ttruu th cuul niit air than i du ov eni fir ov cuming tu harm. Th manshn bihiind uz woz burning, anuthr bitr bloo fr Curnl Porrit nd hiz wiif. At leest, noobodi woz hurt.

Y th Luftwaffe pinpointd this manshn, we wil nevr noo.Aftr we wur bomd aut ov aur manshn nd spent that niit nd th folooing morning in th litl textiil shop daun on th cornr ov th driiv, aur muthrz ariivd on th traan frm Eccles-Salford tu pic uz up.

Thaa ttout ther woznt much point in uz beeing ivacyuaatd if we wur gooing tu get bomd aut eniwaa! Its hard not tu laf wen u ttinc abaut it; aur perunts shorly did.

Winston Churchill was probably the greatest orator in the history of England.The English language was his weapon that ignited the fighting spirit of the United Kingdom and the British Empire against the German war-machine. From the time of his first broadcast, nations were aware that they had a leader in every sense of the word.
As a boy, together with my father, I had the good fortune of listening to Churchill’s wartime addresses on the BBC radio. Cool, calm and collected; sonorous and leisurely; never a trace of doubt as to what the final outcome of the war would be. Unforgetable oratory by a great statesman, famous for his humor, the cigar he rarely lit, and his ‘V’ for victory sign.

Th Batl ov Britain cntinyud:

Tugethr with aur naabr, mi Dad at 119 Lancaster Road, Salford 6, had bilt a smoul air-raad sheltr, joining aur tuu bac gardnz. German air-raadz ovr Manchester nd Salford in 1941 wur preeseedd bii air-raad siirunz hauling in th midl ov th niit.
We wud huri frm aur bedz tu th sheltr, aur muthr with pots ov tee nd a bool ov biscits, th naabrz with cofi nd sandwichz, maacing th afer qiit coozi.

I wud foul asleep on a bunc until th od bom landd cloos inuf tu shaac th sheltr, won 50 yardz awaa in a sports feeld, anuthr bom 50 yardz in th opozit direcshn in th midl ov th rood blooing aut a fyu windooz ov th loocl dentists haus, wich nobodi seemd tu miind.

An aur laatr th oul-cleer siirunz wud saund, waacing me fr th last tiim bifor gooing bac intu th haus nd wirili up th sterz agaan tu bed.

Until then mi fahthr had patroold th streets with uthr famili fahthrz, xtingwishing smoul fiirz startd bii German insendiari bomz, using smoul wotr pumps nd bucits ov sand.

Dyoring th daa, we wur bac at Broom House Lane scuul, fiiv minits awaa frm aur haus on th biic.

In thooz daaz, oonli won famili in ten had a car; iim glad tu saa we didnt.

It ment we cud plaa futboul, cricit, nd with a lentt ov roop strechd acros th street, eevn tenis until th iventyul car caam bii riqiiring th roop tu b loourd breefli.

Tuordz th end ov th wor in 1944 i woz 12 yirz oold nd woz reeding th daali nyuz paapr on th saaf siid ov th English chanl, intensivli folooing th ritreets or th advansz ov th British nd American armiz engaajd in Europe, Nortt Africa nd Asia.
Reeding woz riwording wiil dictaashn at scuul nd riiting in jenrul woz a frustraating matr ov geswurc fr moost ov uz, bringing bac memriz ov por Mis Shaw.

She probubli misd uz aftr we had left Yew Barrow Lodge. Iim shor she wud hav been a difrnt pursn had sh been alaud tu teech uz simpl, lojicl, fonetic, cnsistnt spelingz az woz nd iz th caas in uthr cuntriz.

We wud oul b betr of tudaa had riformrz ov th past such az Samuel Johnson, stedfastli opoozd th caaos ov irisponsibl, freequntli ridicyulus English spelingz. i.e.traditional: colonel, scissor, acquiesce, eyesight, gaol, receipt, wry, reconnaissance, rhyme.
Sayspel: curnl, sizr, aqies, iisiit, jaal, riseet, rii, riconisuns, riim.

Years later, as learning to spell in phonetically constructed German and Spanish proved to be comparatively easy, it became obvious that the problem with English spelling was its inconsistency. It meant spellings, as we children spontaneously wrote them, made more sense than what Miss Shaw was obliged to teach us.

Not the teaching system, not the teachers and not the pupils are the cause of poor English literacy standards. An unsystematic orthography and its dogmatic supporters were and still are the cause. They should not be allowed to stand in the way of an infinitely simpler spelling system that would help raise sufferers out of their state of social isolation; the direct result of illiteracy.

Consolidate ‘phonetic’ spelling as other countries have done over recent centuries, and the problem is solved. There will be poorly founded opposition which nevertheless can impede progress, partly from the privileged who already spell well, and otherwise from a short sighted public who wrongly imagine having to spend years learning to spell again what in truth need take only a few weeks. Phonetically simplified spelling would benefit everyone.

Traditional spelling would still remain an option to writers. Phoneticians (specialists in phonetics) know all this but unlike our airmen, at war they have failed to show the tenacity required to win the fight.

A short relevant anecdote: While working in California, 1965-1970, I designed a control valve for hydraulic elevators, before returning to Europe to start my own production of the valve in co-operation with a German elevator company.

At that time, competing valves produced in Germany and Switzerland could be supplied in 8 to 12 weeks.

Upon my arrival at this company I met with the owner, Herr Reinhardt, who after the formal introduction in German, asked me, ‘Was für eine Lieferfrist wird das Produkt haben’? (What will the delivery period be for the product?). ‘Einen Tag’! (One day) I answered in German. He thought I hadn’t heard correctly and asked his engineer to repeat the question in English, which the engineer did.” What will be the delivery time”? He asked. ‘One day’ I repeated, this time in English. ‘Ach’ ! ‘Er hat nicht verstanden, lass es!’, Uttered the owner impatiently, (he didn’t understand, never mind!). I suppose reducing delivery periods from 8 weeks down to 1 day was hard to believe; but once in production that is the way it was, and still is.

When I read that conservative spelling reformers estimate 20 to 50 years to achieve a revision of English spelling, it takes me back to 1970 when I wondered how low some people set their sights. Using computer, CD and Internet technology, completed reform schemes could be introduced to educational bodies and the public throughout the world in a matter of weeks.
Ignorance, indifference and bureaucracy should not be allowed to obstruct comprehensive reforms, beneficial to all people.

Welcom to Saaspel ...........
     Sayspel, Pfaffenstr.1, 74078 Heilbronn, Germany                                                              
Copyright Roy W. Blain