If you wish to read the Reader’s Digest article mentioned in this post, you may be able to borrow a copy through your libraries Inter Library Loan Service. I was able to obtain a copy this way. It is worth the trouble.

October 1987 – p 138, “Jimmy Yen: Crusader for Mankind,” by John Hersey.

The Reader’s digest.

Wallace, De Witt, 1889-1981.

call number:1987/07-1987/12

See also: James Yen and Village China google books – click on “preview this book”.                 

Jimmy Yen – a story of one man’s influence on China’s literacy – among other things. Jimmy Yen – a story uv wvn man’z infloouns on Chienu’s liturusy – umvng vdhur thingz.
Jimmy Yen was a Chinaman who managed to go to Yale. It’s a long story, found in “The Reader’s Digest”, October 1987 – “Jimmy Yen: Crusader for Mankind”. I am only going to mention his work with Chinese coolies that were sent to France to help the Allies free up soldiers to go to the fighting. They had little idea what they were getting into. Jimy Yen wvz a Chienumun hoo manijd to go to Yael. It’s a long story, found in “The Reader’s Digest“, Oktoebur 1987 – “Jimmy Yen: Crusader for Mankind“. I am only going to menchun hiz wvrk with Chieneez koolyz dhat wvr sent to Frans to help dhe Aliez free vp soeljurz to go to dhv fieting. Dhae had litul iedeu whot dhae wvr getting into.
Jimmy Yen was associated with the YMCA from his days in China. He was asked by the YMCA to go to France to help with the coolies. He went just after he graduated from Yale. The coolie’s morale was very low and they were very homesick. One day three of them asked Jimmy to write home for them, which he did. Before long he had more requests than he could handle. He told the coolies that he would no longer write for them—they would have to write for themselves. He remembered an article* he read about suggestions for improving the literacy in China by providing a simpler form of writing. Jimmy started with about 600 word signs that covered most everyday speech. (After the war he increased this number to about 1,000, within a primer, with the help of a couple of college students.) His first class was about 40 students. Once their success became known, the demand became so great that Jimmy had to teach students to become teachers. In time, most of the coolies in France had access to this teaching. Jimy Yen wvz usoesheatud with dhv YMCA frvm hiz daez in Chienu. He wvz askd by dhv YMCA to go to Frans to help with dhv koolyz. He went jvst aftur he graduaetud frvm Yael. Dhv kooly’z moral wvz very loe and dhae wvr very hoemsik. Wvn dae three uv dhem askd Jimy to wriet hoem for dhem, which he did. Bifoer long he had mor rikwests dhan he kwd handul. He toeld dhv koolyz dhat he wwd no longgur wriet for dhem—dhae wwd hav to wriet for dhemselvz. He rimemburd an artikul* he red ubout sugjeschunz for improoving dhv lirurusy in Chienu by pruvieding a simpulur form uv wrieting. Jimy startud with ubout 600 wvrd sienz dhat kuvvurd moest evrydae speech. (Aftur dhv wor he inkreesd dhis nvmbur to ubout 1,000, within a priemur, with dhv help uv a kvpul uv kolij stoodunts.) Hiz fvrst klas wvz ubout 40 stoodunts. Wvns dheir sukses bikaem knoen, dhv dimand bikaem so graet dhat Jimy had to teech stoodunts to bikvm teechurz. In tiem, moest uv dhv koolyz in Frans had akses to dhis teeching.
* “Some Tentative Suggestions for the Reform of Chinese Literature”. * “Some Tentative Suggestions for the Reform of Chinese Literature”.
Jimmy was later to set up an educational program for all 180,000 coolies in France. Jimy wvz laetur to set vp an ejukaeshunul proegram for aul 180,000 koolyz in Frans.
Jimmy wrote a newspaper so they would have something to read. Jimy wroet a noozpaepur so dhae wwd hav svmthing to reed.
Eventually, people all over China were learning to read, where they had before accepted the lie that they were to dumb for such an undertaking. Iventuuly, peepul aul oevur Chienu wvr lvrning to reed, wher dhae had bifoer akseptud dhv lie dhat dhae wvr to dvm for svch an undurtaeking.
Jimmy went on from teaching literacy to teaching how to improve lives in many other ways, but that’s another story. Jimy went on frvm teeching liturusy to teeching hou to improov lievz in meny vdhur waez, bvt dhat’s unvdhur story.
One major fact remains; Jimmy Yen showed, again, that one man can make a huge difference. Wvn maejur fakt rimaenz; Jimy Yen shoed, ugen, dhat wvn man kan maek a huej difuruns.
Many spelling reformers believe that something like a government body is needed to ensure a new spelling system’s success. I don’t think so. First to the individual, then to the groups, then to the masses. Meny speling riformurz bileev dhat svmthing like a guvvurnmunt body iz needud to enshwr a noo speling sistum’z sukses. I doent think so. Fvrst to dhe induviduul, dhen to dhv groops, dhen to dhv masuz.





About Paul Stought

This blog will only be about spelling reform and Mentur. I am a retired machinist. I have been studying spelling reform since about 2000. I decided Mentur is what I would like to see as a user-friendly spelling system for English. Spelling reformers in general have widely differing views on the subject.
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