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About The Book...


Most people with any interest in the English language know that it has the worst alphabetic spelling system in the world. What they don't know in any great detail, however, is how this sorry situation came about. They don't know, for instance, that a 17th-century English schoolmaster named Edmund Coote had a major role. And they might be surprised at the parts played by greed, intentional complexity, and downright blunders.


With this in mind, Niall McLeod Waldman has written Spelling Dearest. This book chronicles, in an irreverent and satirical way, the major happenings and minor annoyances that together form the history of English spelling.


Spelling Dearest brings together many of the shocking facts and dirty little secrets surrounding English spelling. Good spellers will be intrigued by thought-provoking background information on a subject they encounter and conquer each day. Bad spellers will feel empowered when they discover, it took multiple mistakes and missed opportunities by well-respected people to create a spelling system as complicated as ours. Parents and teachers of poor spellers will feel relief and sympathy when they realize, it's not the children's fault they can't spell. It’s the fault of our needlessly complex spelling system.


Despite its serious subject matter, Spelling Dearest is down-to-earth, entertaining, and engaging. A great read for English language and history buffs.







"Amazing! Waldman's treatment of a motley millennium of English spelling is fast & furious, pithy & profound."

Joe Little, Managing Director, American Literacy Council (July, 2004)


"With deft humor and delivery, Waldman brings us through the spelling history of the worlds most powerful language."

Christopher Klim, Senior Editor Writers Notes Magazine (March, 2005)


"Woldmin's acownt of the historee and horrurs of Inglish spelin is troolay brilyant — a wittay, sparklin jem ov a boock."

Daniel McGowan, Author of Going Mental and Constructive Awareness (July, 2004)


"Spelling Dearest is more than dates and facts; it is a witty explanation of how the English-speaking world communicates with each other."

Sarah McGoldrick, Staff Writer, Fergus-Elora News Express (24 November, 2004)


"It's an informative, free-flow, humorous and historic look at how we screwed up so badly for so many years."  

Angus Lind, Columnist, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans (10 December, 2004)


"This fascinating book is a blow-by-blow description of how English spelling got so messed up. Great account and good fun."

Dr. James H. Kanzelmeyer, Ph.D., Creator of AKSES Writing System (29 December, 2004)


"Relentless detail and a superb caricature of the major historical personality in each chapter."

Dr. Valerie Yule, Ph.D., Australian Style (2 December, 2004)


"Illustrated by a large collection of clever cartoons by the author."

Ross Eckler, Senior Editor, Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics, (February, 2005)


"This amusing book contains satirical history lessons and has a playful, whimsical style."

Mike Stimpson, The Chronicle-Journal, Thunder Bay (19 December, 2004)


"Certainly something I'd borrow from the library."

The Canuck Librarian (30 March, 2005)




Other Written Comments…


"I am enjoying it enormously."

Desmond Morris, Author, Artist, TV Personality. Author of The Naked Ape (12 August, 2006)


"Enjoying reading Spelling Dearest ....would like to use a piece of your writing in my classes."

Veronica Abbass, Professor, Seneca College (06 October, 2005)


"I enjoyed your writings very much. And your great sense of humor. Thanks again for the pleasure of reading your book. My mother tongue is Estonian. My mother, after learning from me how to pronounce colonel correctly said that in English they write cat but pronounce dog."

Allan Kiisk, Retired Engineer, Researcher, University Professor. (26 January, 2007)


      "Great book!...I just wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed it, and indeed how wonderfully

     readable it is! You have great writing ability!" 

Christopher Jolly, Publisher and Co-Creator of Jolly Phonics (5 August, 2005)


"I really enjoyed reading your romp through the history of English spelling.

I would love to see it rival the popularity of Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

It has the same light-hearted approach with a serious core."

Isobel Raven, Retired Teacher, Author of The Future of Fonics (25 Sepember, 2004)


"As an ESL teacher, I'm constantly apologizing for English spelling and grammar to my students.
Thanks for the amusing read about the bumpy road English spelling has come along."

Andrew Kean, ESL Teacher (3 January, 2005)


"Fantastic! I'm on the last few pages of the book. I haven't been able to put it down since I ordered it from Amazon a couple weeks ago....I've always been irritated by the written English language and your book has certainly been an entertaining and educational experience."

Terry Prodanyk, High School Teacher, Thunder Bay (16 January, 2005)


"I really enjoyed your book. I thought the sketches were especially good. I laughed often at your gems about Samuel Johnson. I liked the book, too, because I did not always agree with you. A book is no good if it only confirms ones prejudices."

G. Wesley McCullough, Former School Principal and Head of English Department. Author. (10 November, 2004)


"Just finished reading Spelling Dearest, I am amazed the history behind English spelling has so much depth to it."

Nick Curtis, Student (September, 2004)





Writers Notes Magazine Reference Book Award (2005)/Best New Writing: The Eric Hoffer Award (2005)




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