Theodor Ickler


Gerhard Augst als Rechtschreibpolitiker

Ist eigentlich dieser Text allgemein bekannt? Ich wurde daran erinnert, als ich die von R.M. zitierte Stelle im Diskussionsforum las.
Augst wiederum, der vor Uneingeweihten gern mit meiner angeblichen Gleichsetzung der Reformer mit den Nazis hausieren geht, wird bestimmt nicht gern daran erinnert, daß er zusammen mit Schaeder ein ganzes Buch dem bekannten Nationalsozialisten Mackensen gewidmet hat. Viel Spaß mit dem Text, der zugleich ein schönes Beispiel von Kongreß-Englisch ist!

Conference Report
Spelcon 2005

International English for Global Literacy

University of Mannheim – Sixth International Conference
29th - 31st July 2005

Prof.Gerhard Augst

The German spelling reform
An example for the Simplified Spelling Society’

Ladies and Gentlemen: I was involved in the company for German spelling reform from 1979 until 2004. I therefore would like to give you a report on the course and the problems of the reform in German speaking states and hope that you can take some advice for your plan for the English spelling reform.

A 2 page memorandum was published in 1996 where the following adjectives and participles appeared: “confused, absurd, great, ugly, catastrophic, ridiculous, cheated, raped, restricted, tormented, forced”. Some verbs in the same text conveyed: “ to play a wrong note, to eliminate sth., to tempt sb., to disgrace sb., to do harmto sb.”. And nouns that matches like: “impoverishment, confusion, to be unedicated, annoyance, compulsory measure, to take offence, ugliness. Orwellsche Vision (Orwell’s vision). One could ask as to what the reason was for such expressions of emotion? On the 1st of July 1996, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria and Switzerland signed a declaration of intent to carry out together a spelling reform in their countries. Seven countries in which German was the minority language or the second official language joined the treaty. A plan that had been cherished for over 100 years seemed to come true. But, on a book in Frankfurt, a senior secondary school teacher, by the name of Denck from Weinheim (Bavaria) came up with “10 thesis against the spelling reform” out of which came the above-mentioned adjectives, nouns and verbs. This resulted in many great German authors like G.Grass, M.Walser, C.Wolf signing his resolution immediately. Since 1996, furious debate raged in Germany, which is still unsettled (2005). However, before entering this subject, it is essential to know the history of the German spelling reform from 1700 to 1996 and present the contents of the reform in brief. My lecture is structured as follows:

1. History of the reform 1700-1996
2. Contents of the reform
3. Discussion 1996-2005
4. Advice for the SSS

1. History of the reform from 1700-1996

The conventions of German spelling became more and more stabilized during the 18th and 19th century. Reform attempts made in the 18th century e.g by G.Klopstock failed. We can see that the plan for reform and standardization always occur together, in which the standardization gets itself through. During the second half of the 19th century, the state intervened. Teachers were dissatisfied with the various spelling possibilities. So they came to an agreement that in one school, one spelling convention was to be taught by all teachers (e.g. Berlin 1871)

Furthermore they made a petition that each government (f.i. Bavaria 1878, Austria 1879, Prussia 1880) should publish rules and a small dictionary which were binding for the schools of the kingdom concerned (Schlaefer 1980:200). In 1876, the first conference on spelling reform in Berlin tried to find a uniform spelling for all German-speaking countries and to simplify it. This conference failed, however: there were two opposing parties: the one – led by the famous German linguist Karl Weinhold – wanted to change the spelling according to the principle: write in accordance with the historical development; the other – led by the equally famous linguist Rudolf von Raumer – followed the principle: write in accordance with your pronunciation.

The failure of the conference was aggravated by Otto von Bismarck’s opposition towards any alteration of German spelling while his was chancellor of the Second German Reich. Consequently after his death, there was a new conference at Berlin in 1901. The representatives of all German speaking countries decided not to change spelling in general, but they succeeded in finding one convention for spelling which was binding for all German states. They published their results in Regeln fur die deutsche Schreibung und Worterbuch “ Rules for the German spelling and dictionary”; (reprinted in Nerius-Scharnhorst 1980:351). In 1902, the “Bundesrat” – a representative parliament of all German governments – carried a motion advising all German governments to introduce this uniform spelling in their books and administrative bodies.
In the following years, all the governments published rules for spelling and a dictionary with many subsequent editions – all according to the agreement of 1901. This order had to be followed by the schools and administrative bodies; other writers and printers – such as those with newspapers – were merely asked to observe it. After World War II, there were no new editions. As some lexicographers (like Mackensen) tacitly started to change the spelling in their dictionaries, the “Kultusministerkonferenz” of West Germany (this is a metting of all ministers of education in the various states) put a stop to this development by deciding in 1955 that
the way of spelling established in the spelling reform of 1901 and the later continued to be compulsory for German spelling…in schools. In cases of doubt, the spelling used in the “Duden” and its rules are compulsory.

In the quoted passage, a famous trade name is mentioned: the spelling dictionary Duden. This book is connected with Konrad Duden (1829-1911), a Grammar School teacher and finally headmaster. In the last century, he tried to standardize German spelling conventions. He was at the conference in Berlin in 1876 and 1901, and in 1880, he published the first edition of his Vollstandiges orthographisches Worterbuch der deutschen Sprache (Complete orthographic dictionary of the German language; reprinted in 1980 by the Duden Bibliographic Institute).

In some respects, printers were still dissatisfied after the conference of Berlin (in 1901), because the agreement did not strictly rule out fluctuations and uncertainties in spelling, especially in the spelling of loan words. They therefore asked Konrad Duden to produce a special dictionary without any variations for them. In 1903, the so-called Buchdruckerduden (Printers’ Duden) appeared in its first edition. In the following years, Konrad Duden made up his mind to combine his dictionary for the general public with the Printers’ Duden. This book appeared after his death in 1915 as the 9th edition: Duden – Die Rechtschreibung der deutschen Sprache (Duden – the spelling of the German language). This edition made the rules which has been specially set for the use of the printers compulsory for everyone in schools and administrative bodies.

Every year thousands of men and women write letters to editors or even phone them, asking how to write this to that word or how to interpret this or that rule. The Bibliographic Institute team collected all these queries, and in every edition, it developed the rules and the spelling to cover these cases. So, in the 9th edition, you could find rules for punctuation, in the 15th edition rules for the separate or compound spelling of words. Through the years, the rules have become and are still becoming more and more complicated. Let me give an example: According to the rules of the conference of 1901, compound words could be written with three consecutive, identical letters in the middle, when the two identical letters in the final position of the first component were simply concatenated with the same letter of the following component. The latest edition, however showed that you must apply a whole array of rules writing: Ballettanzer, Balletttuppe – Ballettheater, Ballettthriller (ballet dance, ballet troupe, ballet theatre, ballet thriller (Augst 1982).

The conference of Berlin led to the adoption of one spelling convention by the nations participating, this being a compromise for the more ambitious simplification which they could not agree upon. Instead of being simplified, German spelling became more and more complicated, especially under the influence of the Duden. It is not astonishing therefore that the demands to change the spelling increased shortly after the conference. There have been many conferences and resolutions since that time. It is not necessary to mention them all. The most important resolution, binding at the time of the present discussion, is the “Wiesbadener Empfehlungen” (Wiesbaden recommendations) of 1958. The “kultusministerkonferenz”, mentioned above, established a committee of linguists, teachers, professors of education, printers and editors to consider the best way of changing the spelling.

The committee suggested a change of spelling the following main field: - to replace the capital letters for nouns by small letters. They called this a “gemaigte Kleinschreibung” (moderate use of small letters). Capitals should only be used for the proper nouns.

A new wave of spelling reform arose around 1970. The discussion was started by the Pedagogical Seminars. Influenced by the theories of Basil Bernstein, there was a general discussion on the deficiency in spelling abilities among lower classes. There were two possible solutions: either to have more spelling exercises in class, or to change the spelling. AS lessons were thought to be more important for the practice of communicative and stylistic skills, the Pedagogical Movement decided to demand a spelling reform. To reduce the number of fields of controversy, they only emphasized point one of the Wiesbaden Recommendations. Their demand was supported by the GEW (Tradeunion of education and Sciences), which held a meeting on this subject at Frankfurt in 1973 (Drewitz –Reuter 1974). At the beginning of this campaign, the conditions for reform were extremely favorable because the then socialist government of Willi Brandt had created a climate of reform. By getting rid of the capitals, he wanted to get rid of the capitalists (Drewitz Reuter 1974:127). On the other hand, Hans Habe, a conservative journalist for the conservative newspaper Die Welt, denounced the reform by forecasting a new era of illiteracy (reprinted in Augst 1974:133).

The international working group published a first draft in 1988, which concerned with the alteration of spelling of words in specific, e.g. Aal > Al, Boot > Bot, because the diphthong letters in German are exceptions to mark the long vowel. Also the connection for /ae/as should be given up in favour of the regular , e.g Kaiser > Keiser. With reference to this matter, the large daily newspaper FAZ titled: “Will we soon be writing Keiser instead of Kaiser?”, and a storm of indignation broke out in Germany. The proposal of the reform had to be drawn back. H.Zabel published an extensive collection of press articles, inclusive of reader’s letters with the title “The tilted Keiser” (Der gekippte Keiser) (1989).

The international working group worked further and presented a new draft as a rule to German spelling reform (“German spelling reform. Suggestions in its revision) (“Deutsche RS. Vorschlage in ihrer Neuregelung”).

This became the basis of state trade in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Hence, the KMK and the German ministry of the interior sent the draft to 43 associations requesting for a written comment/statement. In May 1993, a hearing took place in Bonn, in which 30 corporations/associations took place. Some proposals for changes of the draft took place. During which some proposals for changes of the draft took place. The most important thing was that it was not possible to enforce the spelling of nouns in lower case letters. A modified draft was again criticized by the Bavarian Minister of Education and the Arts Zehetmair in 1995, specially in reference to the Integration of foreign words e.g. Rhabarber > Rabarber and hence, had to be modified again. This draft was then consented by KMK in December 1995 and during January till April 1996 also by the Federal Cabinet, the minister-presidents of the countries and the Federal Minister of the Interior. Before the planned signing took place, the Federal Constitutional Court rejected an urgent request from a constitutional lawyer Prof. Groeschner from Jena, who is the name of his daughter, wanted to stop the federal Republic of Germany from signing the afore mentioned “mutual declaration of intent for the revision of German spelling” (“Gemeinsame Absichtserkarung zur Neuregelung der deutschen Rechtschreibung”)

2. Contents of the reform

There was a totally new formulated set of rules and regulations that replaced the one from 1902. Also the Duden privilege had to be stopped as it was only regarded as a carried out reform. The set of rules and regulations was subdivided into 6 parts. The 2 most important changes of each portion will be examined.

A. Phonome -grapheme

With regard to content, the only reform which one could quite easily notice in a continual text, is the change of the -spelling. Due to the principle of morphemes, there is no change between Fluss (until now Flu) and Flusse anymore, and the same with Kussen –du/er kusst (until now kut). The principle of morpheme was also decisive in abandoning the acceptance of the most English change y –ies, e.g. Husky –huskies (now: Huskys). The difference of spelling dass – das stays the same even though the international study/working group had proposed it’s task to be only – das.

B. Separate and compound spelling

Until present, one had to differentiate between concrete and figurative meaning as a criterion for separate spelling (auf dem Stuhl) sitzen bleiben or for compound spelling (in der Schule) sitzenbleiben in the sense of “having to repeat the course in school”. This Metaphorical criteria will be abandoned. But the following examples: baden gehen (to go swimming) and baden gehen (with a proposal) have always been written separately while the following examples: liegenbleiben (to stay in bed) and liegen bleiben (to leave work undone) have always been spelled together.
An adaptation to irgend + X (some + X) was also planned/intended. Until now, irgendein, irgendwas, irgenwer, were spelled together, but irgend jemand, irgend etwas were spelled separately. Hence, the latter will also be spelled together in the revised reform as: irgendjemand, irgendetwas.

C. Hyphens

The main problem caused here is due to the acceptance of compound words from English. English knows three kinds: writing sth as two or more words, hyphenating words, or writing something as one word. German on the other hand does not know compounds written as two or more words since in German the normal case is to write sth as one word. Therefore the revised version tried, if possible, to get by without writing sth as two or more words. For example: Engl. Compact disc > Germ. Compactdisc.

D. Capital and lower case letters

As the proposal by the International Association for Orthography to spell nouns with lower case letters was not approved, a decision was taken on a proposal for the modified use of capital letters. For example; the differentiation between concrete and metaphoric meaning, where the concrete would be spelled with an uppercase letter, the metaphoric with a lower case letter; Let’s consider the following phrase: “Auf dem trocknen sitzen” which is a German saying and would literally translated read “to sit on the dry” has a metaphoric meaning, which is “not to have anything to drink”. In this case “trockenen”, which means “the dry” is written in lower case letters. On the other hand “Auf dem Trockenen sitzen” (to sit on the dry) can have a concrete meaning, e.g. “to sit at the shore” and in this case “Trockenen” (the dry) is written in capital letters and auf dem Trocknen sitzen and auf dem Trocknen sitzen which has a concrete meaning – (at the shore) is written in capital letters. Besides, the writer need no longer needs to not write the time of day in lower cases letters as in – heute abend (this evening), gestern morgen (yesterday morning), since even linguists argue about whether an adverbial is used in relation to Abend, Morgen (Evening, Morning).

E. Punctuation

Here, the writer is granted liberty with regard to the placement of the comma in combination with infinitive groups since even better writers did not master the old Duden regulations with two main rules and eleven exceptions: Er bat sie instandig(,) nach Hause zu kommen
He urgently asked her(,) to come home
Additionally, main clauses joined by und or oder need no longer be separated by a comma because if one can list words and parts of a sentence without a comma, why not also main clauses?

die hubsch, kluge _ und Fleiige Frau ….
the pretty, clever _ and hardworking woman
die hubsche Frau, der kluge Mann_und das Fleiige Kind….
the pretty woman, the clever man_and the hardworking child
die hubsche Frau fahrt in die Stadt_und (sie) kauft ein
the pretty woman drives to the city_and(she) shops
die hubsch Frau fahrt in die Stadt, und der Mann repariert das Auto
the pretty woman drives to the city, and the man repairs the car

F. Dividing words at the end of a line

With regard to division of words, now the division of st is allowed. For example: fa-sten>fas-ten. In addition, ck (Zucker) will no longer be replaced by kk (previously Zuk-ker) when divided. In order to maintain the root spelling, ck moves to the next line intact, thus a spelling like Zu-cker. Words borrowed from foreign languages, can be separated according to the way the syllables are pronounced in speaking. For example: Heilko-pter>Helikopter, Inter-esse> Inte-resse.

All in all, the aim of the contents of the reform is to strengthen the basic rule and as much as enforceable to abolish exceptions and exceptions from exceptions. The effects in a continuous text are low. For example with regard the -spelling, effects are only two words out of a hundred; all other changes, without the , two words out of a thousand.

3. The development from 1996-2005

The Viennese declaration of intent recommended the introduction of the new spelling reform in schools in 1989/1999. Also the government offices began to adjust with the new spelling reform. The German news agencies switched over to the new spelling reform on the 01.08.1999 and with that also almost every newspaper, magazine and commercial with partly different individual orthographies e.g. Die Zeit (a weekly newspaper)

The publishing houses behaved differently, but in 2001, an average of 80% of every first published book was written in the new spelling. An agreement for a transition period until 01.08.2005 was made with the schools, in which the previous spelling regulations were to be marked as wrong and correction was to be provided, but they were not to be marked as mistakes. For example: Flu instead of Fluss. Publishing houses for dictionaries like Duden, Bertelsmann and many other smaller publishing houses immediately published new edition of their dictionaries (but with incongruent application of the rules), Soft-ware manufacturers offered converter programs from the old spelling to the new as well as new spelling control programs.

Through the Vienna proposal, a committee between the states was established for the German spelling reform with three members each from Austria and Switzerland and six members from Germany who were to accompany the new spelling and later develop the official spelling further. These members communicated with publishing houses for dictionaries to achieve a uniform interpretation of the rules, they answered a host of queries regarding the new spelling reform, since everything new led to feeling of uncertainty. In spite of
millions forms of information, many writers were still unsure of what had been changed. The commission published a status report every two years 1997,1999,2001,2003 where suggestions for detail and change were voiced.

This report of introduction to the new spelling is but only one side of what was carried out. The other side is the massive opposition against reform which became even greater over the years. The initiative was led by the afore mentioned, while the chronology is unimportant. The main groups are as follows.

The writers, among others, Grass, Aichinger, Kempowski, Enzensberger, Walser and also the Deutsche Akademie fur Sprache und Dichtung (German academy for language and poetry) who were invited for both the statement and hearing but perceived neither of the two. It founded it’s own spelling commission and published a “Kompromivorschlag” (compromise proposal) (sic!) in 2003 where except for the -new spelling reform, took back almost everything. In the year 2004, the KMK forced the academy to enter into conversation with the interstate commission. But this did not take place due to irreconcilable conflicts.

In several German countries, the people desire against the reform was initiated; the only country that managed it was Schleswig-Holstein which went successfully. The parliament could bring the reform in force only after two years.

Parents went to the administrative courts so that their children would be taught according to the old reform in their classes. The courts refused 18 times, 12 times they gave the parents the right until the Federal Constitutional Court finally in 1998 turned down the class-action lawsuit in a landmark decision.

In politics, the FDP was determined to be against the reform. Through a non-partisan application, the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament) occupied itself several times with this matter. In conversations between the KMK and the judicial committee of the Lower House of Parliament, an agreement was made up of 16 supporting Institutions whose professions were writers. For example: the association of magazine publishers, the association of journalists. This advisory council had to present the interstate commission their opinionated reports before being sent to state offices.

Linguistics was divided. Ickler denoted the reform as an “menschenverachtendes Massenexperiment” (inhuman mass experiment). To this, one has to know that this is a highly loaded expression, which characterized the criminal medical experiments carried out by the Nazis. Eisenberg, who critically worked out with the reform and who wrote Brochures to secretaries and students to learn, explained at the same time that the new/revised reform belongs to the “history’s heap of rubbish” (“auf den Mullhaufen der Geschichte”). He left the interstate commission and a few weeks later became a member of the commission of the German academy for language and poetry. Two scientists published a book “Rechtschreibreform und Nationalsozialismus” (spelling reform and National Socialism), in which they supposed that the new reform is the Nazis’ spelling reform that they did not accomplish in carrying out in 1944. The German academy for Language and Poetry took the book in one of their follow ups and their president presented it in the press. The potential suspicion of National Socialism was strengthened by Icklers conclusion that the old communist Dieter Nerius and the old 68er Gerhard Augst of the “Institut fur Deutsche Sprache” (Institute for German language) decided, behind the people’s backs, to force the spelling reform of the National Socialism upon the Germans.

A year after, when almost every newspaper decided to take in the new spelling reform, the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), which is a broadsheet daily newspaper, in 2000 returned back to the old spelling. The editor-in-chief in the culture section, Thomas Steinfeld explained that the new spelling reform is a “dangerous act”. This is a stable judicial formulation for serious facts constituting an offence. In summer 2004, the springer press and the “Spiegel” (a weekly magazine)

decided to join this course of action, above all the massive tabloid “Bildzeitung” which carried out a highly emotional campaign against the spelling reform for two months.

The interstate commission could not hold out against this pressure. The political authorities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland resolved to set up a “Rat fur RS” (counsel fro spelling) consisting of 37 people. It was lead by the Bavarian politician Zehetmair. Thus, this counsel’s responsibility was to find a solution.

4. Advice for the SSS

Spelling does not come from the outside in addition to the language, but is rather a part of the written communication the same as the sound is a part of the oral communication. The spelling is based on a written system which lets itself describe just linguistically as the sound system of a language. The writing of an alphabet script is neither phonologically nor syllabically sufficient to explain. It has much more a function of the logging of data for reading out and for the entry of mostly mute reading. In both of these cases, it has the goal of withdrawal of the meaning. That’s why the spelling has part in the rapid and unambiguous understanding which makes it visible by morphological, lexical and syntactical structures. It can be completely described by rules and exceptions. The linguistic theories concerning the recording of the writing system have changed in the past decade and will also keep on changing in the future. A reform proposal should always be in accord with the newest linguistic theories. The preparation should also not take long so that non-new theories endanger the theoretic basis of the reforms effort.
Besides the linguistic descriptions of the writing system, one should also take the functioning of psycholinguistics into consideration. The writer not only writes with the help of rules and exceptions, but also stores the writing as a written schemata. It is the same as when a child learns English or German, he/she organizes the sound schemata and meaning to a bilateral insoluble symbol. Hence, the child not only learns rules but also stores the written schemata more frequently for it’s meaningful words so that a bilateral symbol of the oral language becomes a trilateral of the literality. When all’s said and done, every reform is an “attack” on the arbitrarity and conventionality of many trilateral symbols and they frequently set off high emotional reaction. This is more or less unconscious defense of an existential threat to the literal communication system. Writing is not only a part of the written communication but is a part of the literality, of the written culture and with it has a historical depth.

The English and the German have written and read for over 1000 years and spelling is part of their long history. Visible cultural work of the literature, religion, humanities, natural sciences and the history of the country are well documented. Along with the psycholinguistic fear of losing the trilateral language symbols, comes the social psychology which is the fear of cultural tradition threat. To help the children pedagogically by means of a spelling reform to learn spelling easily is a respectable intension. It is just as legitimate social-linguistical motive for adults who do not write much, and may reduce their writing barriers by dealing with this problem. Both evoke individual and a social psychologically explainable fear which release an emotional, and potentially aggressive situation, which frequently surprises or appalls reformers who argue rational. Besides, those who in the end have to carry out the reform are those, who have mastered the old spelling. The displeasure that they have to change something which until now have mastered increases even more because initially every reform produces uncertainty, for what has been considered for correct is now in question.

The individual psychological, the social psychological and the historical-cultural phenomena explain, for the most part, the enormous emotion of the reform debate. But they cannot be misinterpreted as fundamental arguments against any spelling reform. This is made clear by two basic differentiations; sound/oral and spelling.
The German and the English spelling has been increasingly standardized since the invention of art of printing. That means, the spelling system and everything that exist through convention has a firm standardization in Germany until the enforcement of the state. While all other parts of the language are determined internally by linguistic competence as a last instance, an external instance is applied to the spelling, which can be dictionaries, set of rules and regulations and if necessary state enforcement. The spelling will turn to a “Distinction Capital” in terms of Bourdieus only through this standardization. The over the centuries standardizied linguists, poets, teachers and printers have partly carried their ideas and theories concerning the composition of a good spelling reform in this standardization. So, the spelling was adjusted to Latin and old Greek in the 16th and 17th century so that e.g. the English word “debt” received it’s “d” because of the latin debitum and the Middle High German spelling “Keiser” was latinised with “ai” to “Kaiser”. In the 17th and 18th century, the phenomenon of heterography was fully developed so that e.g. the difference between “seyn” to be and “sein” his or “Ton” sound and “Thon” clay. This was partly taken back mid. 19th century as the two examples show I, II “sein”; I, II “Ton”. In the early 20th century, the orthographical conformity of foreign words played the role of a linguistic, a national consciousness, which today has faded away, which partly led to the return of foreign spelling/writing: Cord>Kord>Cord,Ski>Schi>Ski. Let us consider the small reform of 1880/1901 to these interventions of the spelling reform e.g. Thon>Ton, it is clear that not only the spelling changes as language in general from century to century has changed by the invisible hand and will continue to change, but since the beginning of printing, there have been purposeful interventions in the spelling reform with different motives until two small reforms (1880/1901 and 1996). Since the beginning of the standardization, the spelling reform never fully asserted the principle “Leave your language alone”. Standardization and reform are therefore two sides of the same coin. The standardization as an intervention from the outside, the “right” and “wrong” instead of “usual” and “unusual” established and demands the simplicity of the spelling reform as a consequence so that the standardized spelling reform stays teachable and easy to handle. Standardization always leads to a casuistic of the extreme cases (so when to write 2, when 3 of the same spelling to a joint composition).
The spelling reform is not only phylogenic but also ontogenetic, a special case. A small child
learns his/her mother tongue without having a systematic language class. Case studies of the last two decades have shown that a child between the age of 5-6 learns the basics of writing/spelling without systematic teaching. But the learning of the standardized spelling reform with all its superior quality, requires a systematic schooling. It is therefore an act of conscious learning and requires much practice while learning a mother tongue, the complexity hardly plays a role which empirically shows, that the complexity of the spelling reform has a major influence on the speed and success learning.

The continual standardization of the spelling reform hence, also creates the necessity of a continual reform, even against every emotional response.

Here is some advice which has been derived from the German reform discussion.

The spelling reform is not concerned with a linguistically perfect system of spelling, changes should be made only to those which normal adult writers have a problem. Major reforms are not possible to be made in “old” spelling. An aimed variant as an imitation of the concept of the natural change in language hardly seems to function in a reform since those who should carry out the reforms, in this case, stay with the old spelling.

Spelling reform requires a favourable climate. In the 70’s in Germany, the spelling reform was a very responsive undertaking in the context of language barriers. While today in a rather conservative atmosphere of forming and promoting the elites the body of argument for a spelling reform is hardly able to connect.

Plans for spelling reform should not only seek approvals with the schools and the school politic but rather from the beginning should also include the news agencies, the media, the dictionary publishers and the software manufacturers.

Spelling control programs could make the phenomenon and problem of the spelling of word appear in a new light. If this has been a very important, often the most important part in the reform programs, this order of priority could be changed in favor of morphological and syntactical phenomenon.

What needs to be waited for, is whether writing short messages and chatting would lead to a breaking down of the norm in the long run which would also moderate the necessity of a reform.

There are certainly many good reasons to change the English spelling but it is of little use. As you have seen in the German as an example, you have to be prepared for a high emotional mudslinging. You need a long breath, much staying power and you should hardly reckon on recognition. In spite of all these, I wish you all the best with your plans and thank you for your attention.

The Chairman thanked Prof. Augst for his paper and opened the floor to questions.

Discussion and Question time

Edward Merchant: What did you decide to do with the letter ß (letter s) ?

Prof.Augst: Did not abolish the ß exclusively, compromise made E.g. Fluß - Flüsse
Now Fluss

Chairman: When did Germany abolish Gothic script?

Prof. Augst: Gothic script was associated with Nationalism and was abolished in 1941 by Hitler (within six months all school books were changed)

John Dalby: What was the reason for the 1944 reforms?

Prof. Augst: Two reasons: Change of Gothic script and change of German orthography. Hitler stated in 1944 with a spelling reform you could never win a war. Standardization of reform creates that only one orthography is right and the other wrong

Ze Do Rock: 80% of the German population against German spelling reform, why?

Prof.Augst: German language /only language nouns are written with an uppercase. This rule causes a high amount of orthographic mistakes. Authorities etc would not change this so we gave up on changing this.

Dr. Rollason: The FDP political party rejected the spelling reform. Who was for it and who against-Was it mainly political divisions between left and right?

Prof.Augst: 1972 Congress in Frankfurt in favour of the reforms, extreme efforts to be made to help lower classes, 1970’s era of new universities. Now it is different.

Isobel Raven: What do you mean by ‘Trilingual’ development in the study of children?

Prof.Augst: A percentage of children need to read and write before they go to school, but when they come to school they have to learn the standardised orthographics.

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