Spell out success

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
Masha Bell (TES, May 27) points out how the most user-friendly spelling in Europe helps Finnish literacy - with such flow-on effects that a country with only 5 million people is a world leader in many fields. A major reason why the semi-medieval, war-torn state of South Korea was able to become a major industrial nation was that in 1945 it switched to a national writing system, hangul, that is so clever that 99 per cent literacy became possible, and a foreigner can learn it in a day.

The British 1870 Education Act was passed because "we must educate our masters" following the extension of the franchise. We can hardly say that the masses are educated yet, masters or not. Accuracy in reading is so rare that there is even an accepted theory that reading is a process of reconstructing a text for yourself - fair enough for poetry and literature, but disastrous in the business of the nation.

It is high time to repair English spelling to be a more efficient component of communications technology.

Dr Valerie Yule

57 Waimarie Drive

Mount Waverley, Victoria Australia

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