Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/714

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there is a hill, they do not wait for geological agencies to level the hill. They go at it with steam-shovels, drills, and dynamite. Another objection that is made to all simplifications of spelling is that they remove the marks of derivation in words. In many cases this is untrue; in the others it is of no consequence. The Italian sees the Greek Φωτός and γράφείγ just as plainly in his fotografia as the Anglo-Saxon does in his photograph. As for the marks of derivation from Old French, the Teutonic languages, Arabic, etc., the majority of persons do not see them at all, and those who do and can interpret them are above the need of such aids. It is with words very much as with men. The influence of heredity makes it instructive to know the character of a man's parents and grandparents, but men do not go to business every day carrying charts on which their family trees are delineated. So with words; in every-day use only their present values concern us, and their histories should be left to the dictionaries as family trees are left to genealogical records.

A general simplification of English spelling promises to be one of the events of the near future. Articles in favor of it are appearing with increasing frequency in our leading magazines, the latest being by Brander Matthews, in Harpers' Magazine for July. The philologists as a body desire the change, and there is not one linguistic scholar of any prominence who opposes it. When publishing firms nowadays select editors to make or revise our leading dictionaries, they get spelling reformers, for all the men competent to do such work are of this class. The late President Porter, who edited the International Webster, has expressed himself in favor of simplification; Prof. W. D. Whitney, editorin-chief, and several of the other editors of the Century Dictionary, are active workers for this reform; Prof. F. A. March, who is in charge of the departments of spelling and pronunciation in the forthcoming Standard Dictionary, is President of the Spelling Reform Association, and many of the collaborators on this work believe in logical spelling. In England, Dr. James A. H. Murray, editor-in-chief of the Philological Society's Dictionary, the greatest lexicographic work on the English language ever undertaken, is an unhesitating advocate of orthographic reform, as is Prof. Walter W. Skeat, author of the Etymological Dictionary. If English spelling were to be made phonetic next year, or in 1900, a few persons might cry, "Give us back our silent letters," as the mob cried, "Give us back our eleven days," when the calendar was changed from old style to new; but only a few months would pass before all would be asking, "Why was this not done generations ago?"