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Kevin J Bochynski <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 26 Mar 1999 20:22:10 -0500
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I am posting this on behalf of Donna Richoux. --K.B.


In the Usenet group alt.usage.english, there has recently been a
discussion of three paragraphs that are attributed to Mark Twain. We are
turning to
you at TWAIN-L in hopes of finding an exact citation, as some doubt has
been raised as to whether it is genuine Twain at all. The three paragraphs, which can be found at

and maybe 100 other places on the Web, are as follows:
Mark Twain's plan for the improvement of spelling

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be
replased either by "k" or "s," and likewise "x" would no longer be part
of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the
"ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w"
spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile
Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might
fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear
5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so
modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai
Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant
"c," "y" and "x"--bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould
doderez--tu riplais "ch," "sh," and "th" rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a
kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
Can someone tell us a correct title, publication and year for this

It is clear from the fact that the text begins "For example" that this
is an excerpt from a longer essay. Thus the ad hoc title "Mark Twain's plan
for the improvement of spelling " was undoubtedly made up for the excerpt,
and has not been of any use in locating for the original source.

We have located several Twain essays about spelling reform, such as a
four-page piece in "Letters From the Earth," but not this material. Nor
is it in "What is Man?", the only collection of Twain essays in Project

I will spare you the discussion of why doubt was raised about the
authenticity of this passage, unless you are interested. However, a
major factor in the discussion is that exactly the same idea appeared in a
well-known 1946 essay by Dolton Edwards called MEIHEM IN CE KLASRUM

I look forward to your response.

Donna Richoux