Monday, November 10, 2008


Everyone knows that Melvil Dewey created the Dewey Decimal System. But did you know about his other idea that never quite caught on? Phonetic spelling. From Wikipedia:

In 1906, Dewey was one of the 30 founding members of the Simplified Spelling Board, founded by Andrew Carnegie to make English easier to learn and understand through changes in the orthography of the English language. His theories of spelling reform found some local success at Lake Placid: there is an "Adirondac Loj" in the area, and dinner menus of the club featured his spelling reform. A September 1927 menu is headed "Simpler spelin" and features dishes like Hadok, Poted beef with noodls, Parsli or Masht potato, Butr, Steamd rys, Letis, and Ys cream. It also advises guests that "All shud see the butiful after-glo on mountains to the east just befor sunset. Fyn vu from Golfhous porch."

Most of that didn't stick, although we do spell the word catalog the way we do (instead of the British catalogue) in part because of him.

Hav a butiful day!