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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;
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8093. SPELLING, Reform of English.—
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3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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8093. SPELLING, Reform of English.—

A change has been long desired in English
orthography, such as might render it an easy
and true index of the pronunciation of words.
The want of conformity between the combinations
of letters, and the sounds they should represent,
increases to foreigners the difficulty of
acquiring the language, occasions great loss of
time to children in learning to read, and renders
correct spelling rare but in those who read
much. In England a variety of plans and propositions
has been made for the reformation of
their orthography. Passing over these, two of
our countrymen, Dr. Franklin and Dr. Thornton,
have also engaged in the enterprise; the former
proposing an addition of two or three new
characters only, the latter a reformation of
the whole alphabet nearly. But these attempts
in England, as well as here, have been without
effect. About the middle of the last century
an attempt was made to banish the letter
d from the words bridge, judge, hedge, knowledge,
&c., others of that termination, and to
write them as we write age, cage, sacrilege,
privilege; but with little success. The attempt
was also made, which you mention, * * * to drop the letter u in words of Latin derivation
ending in our, and to write honor, candor, rigor,
&c., instead of honour, candour, rigour. But
the u having been picked up in the passage of
these words from the Latin, through the
French, to us, is still preserved by those who
consider it as a memorial of our title to the
words. Other partial attempts have been made
by individual writers, but with as little success.
Pluralizing nouns in y and ey, by adding
s only, as you propose, would certainly simplify
the spelling, and be analogous to the general
idiom of the language. It would be a step
gained in the progress of general reformation,
if it could prevail. But my opinion being requested
I must give it candidly, that judging of the future by the past, I expect no better fortune
to this than similar preceding propositions
have experienced. It is very difficult to persuade
the great body of mankind to give up
what they have once learned, and are now masters
of, for something to be learned anew.
Time alone insensibly wears down old habits,
and produces small changes at long intervals,
and to this process we must all accommodate
ourselves, and be content to follow those who
will not follow us. Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors
had twenty ways of spelling the word “many”.
Ten centuries have dropped all of them and
substituted that which we now use. I now return
your MS. [463] without being able, with the
gentlemen whose letters are cited, to encourage
hope as to its effect. I am bound, however, to
acknowledge that this is a subject to which I
have not paid much attention; and that my
doubts, therefore, should weigh nothing against
their more favorable expectations. That these
may be fulfilled, and mine prove unfounded, I
sincerely wish, because I am a friend to the
reformation generally of whatever can be made
To John Wilson. Washington ed. vi, 190. Ford ed., ix, 396.
(M. 1813)


It is proposed that the plurals of words ending in
y and ey be formed by adding s only.—Editor.