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Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume IV (1876-1877)

Sawyer, W. C.
Letters an embarrassment to literature,   pp. [50]-55 PDF (1.9 MB)

Page 54

54      Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters.
present difficulties, this method enables a student to make a far
wider acquaintance with literature, and to give a better authority
to his authorship, than if he should read altogether by the delib-
erate examination of every page and word.
  The mechanical difficulty of rapid writing also, troublesome in
every literary pursuit, is peculiarly so in the higher education.
The use of lectures, in university instruction, is embarrassed so
much bv the necessarily slow and burdensome process of writing
out the lectures of the professors that we cannot afford to make
that use of lectures which is so popular in Germany, and which,
but for this obstacle, might be very useful in our own educational
  Only five or ten years ago, spelling reform was looked upon as
the impracticable notion of a few dreamers. At present, it has
the support of the leading philologists of England and America.
Indeed, the only work in this interest which is likely to abide, has
been done by our foremost linguistic scholars. Reports very fa-
vorable to this reform have-been made by committees of both the
American Philological Association and the National Educational As-
sociation. Some special organizations have been formed, both in
this country and in England, to promote this same end. The
Germans also have taken active measures to correct the compara-
tively few and slight orthographic defects of their language. The
Royal Commission, appointed by Minister Falk, reported such
modifications as violate the historic spelling just about as often as
they violate phonetic principles. Such a compromise, though now
the law of the Empire, could not hope for great popularity; but
it is noteworthy that the complaint that reaches our ears is chiefly
on account of the half-way character of the reform, rather than
because the sacred order of the letters has been disturbed. Under
such sentiments, a Reform League has been formed in Germany
aiming to complete the reform, and introduce it into common use.
They make a forcible showing of some of the advantages of the
reform, in the following mathematical fashion:
  "If, after the adoption of phonetic spelling, each child at school
were to save only one lesson in spelling every week, that, for sixty
millions of Germans, would amount to a saving of five million

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