Thursday, 22 November 2012

“I before E except after C,” 1977

Rising levels of dimbo-ism in the 1970s led to a campaign for national literacy, championed by then education minister (now fascinating King of Tuvalu) Hadleigh Carport.

Carport declared that he wanted “Every mechanic to have a not inconsiderable grasp of litotes, every labourer to owe a debt to the masters of bathos (as well as the bookmakers), and every-damn-body to understand tmesis.”

In 1978, the first National Spelling Test was set. At 7am on Thursday, 11 May, queues started to form outside Spelling Stations all over the UK. 56% passed, with 37% failing and 18% spoiling their papers – figures which resulted in calls for a national numeracy test. The answers to the Spelling Test appeared in national newspapers the following day. The Guardian printed 37 wrongly, and the Daily Telegraph asterisked the word “plumbago,” for fear of “mortifying the more delicate reader over the puckles of his hot crumpet”.


  1. This blog is a veritable kaleidoscope of brilliant ideas.
    Keep reigniting your flame of inspiration!!

  2. Was this sufficient to change how society spelled?

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