How Simplified Spelling Was Supposed to Fix America's Crime Problem in the 1970s
"Hav u ever considerd th meny benefits ov a simplified fonetic speling that soundz just liek it's riten?"
Edward Rondthaler was a typographer who made his name inventing a machine in the 1930s that allowed typesetting to be done much faster. But Rondthaler had some very peculiar ideas about the future of the English language. Specifically, he believed that illiteracy was causing a surge in crime during the 1970s and thought the only answer was to simplify the way that Americans spelled, hoping that the computer revolution would assist in his cause.
The March 1978 issue of Computers and People magazine included an article by Rondthaler laying out his arguments. Rondthaler, as chairman of the American Literacy Council, thought that making it easier for more Americans to learn to read would improve society immeasurably.
“In America, those of us who can read and write English have built a society that depends on widespread literacy. We offer broad educational opportunities to all—to all, that is, who can read and write. Those who cannot are left out. We've provided no role for illiterates, and have done nothing to make reading and writing simple,” Rondthaler argued.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Paleofuture Substack to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.