Legacy Spelling: Indefensible yet Undefeatable

Legacy Spelling is so wildly dysfunctional few would defend its merits and yet it has resisted nearly every attempt to improve it. It thwarted the brilliant mind of Benjamin Franklin and defeated President Roosevelt. It is the undefeated world heavy weight champion of spelling chaos because it turns our strength into weakness.


Pattern Recognition: Blessing and Curse

Our brains are wired for pattern recognition. A few musical notes in a specific pattern causes us to remember a song. A two dimensional photo reminds of the real life person and our feelings about them. Patterns access memories and are used for prediction. We see 2, 4, 6 and our “pattern recognizer” predicts 8, not sandwich.


The pattern recognizer isn’t an unfeeling machine however. It produces emotions. When patterns are easily recognized we feel at ease. But when we are presented with new patterns we can feel surprise, skepticism, annoyance, irritation or even hostility.


Have you ever known someone that dyed their hair a bold new color and every time you saw them you rubbernecked? That was your pattern recognizer trying to cope with a new pattern. Have you noticed kids you haven’t seen in a long time are surprisingly taller? Why is this a shock? Of course they are going to grow when you’re not around, but our pattern recognizer stumbles over the new pattern.


Improved spelling means different patterns and different patterns cause negative emotions. It’s not a fair fight. We don’t have to convince an impartial jury but a jury that is wired against our cause.

And if this automatic opposition weren’t bad enough, when confronted with different spelling, a natural reaction is “Why bother learning this? I already know how to read.”

Improving spelling does come with a cost, so it’s reasonable to question if the cost is worth it. On a personal level, for an expert in Legacy Spelling that answer is no. It feels like extra work for nothing.


Here then is why all battles for improved spelling fail. Beyond the ordinary obstacles of inertia and apathy are a pair of strong forces. The ones that need to be convinced have pattern recognizers synced to Legacy Spelling and any new patterns generate feelings of irritation. At the same time their lower brain is agitated their higher brain rightly reasons that there is no personal gain from the effort.


Overcoming apathy and low and high brain opposition in one person is a feat, so how is it possible to accomplish this in hundreds of millions of Legacy Spellers?

Head, Heart and Eye.



The pattern recognizer doesn’t understand logic. As long as the patterns match it is content to ignore dysfunction. But highlight the dysfunction (Which is spelled right cripple or triple?) and the logical mind takes notice and a small earthquake shakes the foundation of Legacy Spelling. Humor’s ability to entertain, reach a wide audience and lower resistance is a great medium for reaching the head.



To justify the cost of spelling improvement we must speak to the heart.

  • Show the suffering caused by Legacy Spelling on both personal and society levels
  • Show how spelling is the foundation of reading, reading the foundation of education and education the foundation of society
  • Show the impact of improved spelling across the globe
  • Show that Solar Spell gives English an improved chance of becoming Earth’s universal, planetary language.
  • Broaden perspective by reminding that the most remembered generations are the ones that sacrificed to make the world better.
  • Frame improved spelling as a gift our generation can give to future generations.
  • And show the impact as improving the lives of billions for hundreds and possibly thousands of years to come.


None of our pattern recognizers are going to be happy about improved spelling. That’s a fact of our biology. But everyone can get accustomed to new patterns with repeated exposure. The first time a Legacy Speller sees the number 1 spelled as wun, there’s resistance but continued exposure allows the new pattern to move from resisted to tolerated to accepted and finally to preferred since it not only satisfies our pattern recognizer but our preference for order over chaos.

Exposure begins at the grassroots level of T-shirts and coffee cups and builds through technology such as selecting Solar Spell for subtitles and auto-correct and culminates in an awareness campaign larger than any presidential campaign and spanning the planet.


To defeat the undefeatable requires heroic effort. Half measures won’t get it done, but by focusing on Head, Heart and Eyes we can bend the future in a better direction and improve the lives of billions for hundreds of years to come. They are worth the fight.