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Harry Lindgren

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Lindgren, Harry (1912-1992), engineer, linguist, Great Britain, Australia.

Harry Lindgren was born Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, 1912, emigrated to Australia 1935. Graduated B.Sc., Univ. of Western Australia. Taught a few years. Joined Commonwealth Patent Officer as an Examiner 1946 till retirement. Published articles in Australian, English and American journals and the book 'Geometric Dissections' (Van Nostrand 1964), the only complete treatment of this subject in any language according to Martin Gardner (of Scientific American) in "The Unexpected Hanging" (Simon & Schuster, 1969) which devotes a chapter to Lindgren's work, saying he "has broken more dissection records than anyone else living today".

In1969 he published Spelling Reform: A New Approach (Alpha Books, 104 Bathurst St, Sydney 2000, Australia), the first proposal for introducing phoneme-by-phoneme adjustment of English spelling to the speech it records, with several cartoons by Collette illustrating the absurdities and trauma of traditional spelling.

On September 1, 1971 he launched the Spelling Action Society, so named to acknowledge his Nordic ancestry, sharing its initials with Scandinavia's SAS airline.

He published the newsletter Spelling Action, to promote use of his Spelling Reform step One (SR1): Use 'e' for the clear short vowel sound as in 'hemorrhage' and 'led' as alternatives to current spellings (like -ise/-ize) and no other reform till SR1 is generally accepted and SR2 chosen. Doug Everingham wrote an index to his book which he compiled as an insert. As his helth failed Gary Jimmieson and later Doug Everingham took over the newsletter but the SAS withered away. Harry died in 1992.

The SSS for a time adopted SR1 as an alternative proposal but is currently adopting a different approach to piecemeal spelling reform, believing that for step 1 a more sweeping and obvious change, including omission of redundant letters, would gain more public support. SSS is currently discussing possibilities for a step one RITE (Reducing Irregularities in Traditional English) promotion.

While he envisaged existing spelling reform societies as the appropriate agents for deciding on SR2 and later reforms, Harry thought a year (or more in the early stages) should elapse between changes, especially to avoid problems for writers meeting print dedlines. Nevertheless, his book outlined two examples of possible ultimate phonetic schemes, Phonetic A using no diacritics, and Phonetic B which used French-style diacritics to dispense with the need for digraphs like au, oi, ng, sh.

Phonetic A includes in summary

bat bet piti [pity] pot but book..
pa'm fe'ri li'n ho'l fu'ri muun
[palm fairy lean haul furry moon]
dai lei koi hau lou
[die lay coy how low]
dair leir koir our lour
[dire layer coir our lower]

Apostrophe for the obscure vowel omitted before r not followed by a vowel:
tar fer [fare] wir [wir] sor [sore] fur
& omitted between consonants at start or end of a word
if English does not have consonants so combined:

knaiv hrou'k fnetk horr of'sr of's'rz
[connive heroic phonetic horror officer officers]
gramr sistr martr kulr hansm litl
[grammar sister martyr colour handsome little]
Hyphen in words such as
en-geij lait-haus caild-hood
[engage lighthouse childhood]

A sample of Phonetic A:

Hi hth disgreist mi, 'nd hind'rd mi ha'f 'milyn, la'ft 't mai losz, mokt 't mai geinz, skornd mai neishn, thwortd mai barg'nz, kuuld mai frendz, hi'td mai en'miz; 'nd wots hiz ri'zn? Ai'm 'Juu. Hath not 'Juu aiz? hath not 'Juu handz, org'nz, dmensh'nz, 'feksh'nz, pash'nz? fed with dh' seim fuud, hurt with dh' seim wep'nz, subj'kt t' dh' seim disi'zz, hi'ld bai dh' sem mi'nz, wormd 'n kuuld bai dh'seim wintr 'nd sumr, 'z 'Krsityn iz?

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