Ed Rondthaler Flips for Spelling Reform

Ed Rondthaler (1905-2009) was a typographist and the co-founder (with Harold Horman) of Photo-Lettering, Inc. A man of letters. A man of words. And, it turns out, a man of spelling…

Ed Rondthaler was an advocate for “simplified spelling“.

This creative video intrigued me both for the obvious logic and appeal of a simplified spelling which Ed Rondthaler cultivates with his clever flip cards, and for the innovative storytelling technique.

Although suffering from a late Autumn cold, a the always gracious Ed Rondthaler spent a day with us and our film crew on rainy, cold November afternoon. Framed by the muted surroundings of his Croton-on-Hudson Sears and Roebuck kit log house that he purchased from a Naval Commander in 1938, Ed talked about his years running Photo-Lettering Inc. and the surrounding developments with remarkable precision and clarity. A lifetime proponent of spelling reform, Ed was gracious enough to state a compelling case with a well worn flip chart. Ed would live on another two years before finally giving way to the Twenty-First Century at the ripe young age of 104. We cannot begin to express our gratitude to Ed Rondthaler for his time and effort in helping us preserve the Photo-Lettering legacy, but we hope to perpetuate his passion for spelling reform by showing this short film. (Ed Rondthaler on English spelling)

English: Ed Rondthaler at his residence in Cro...

Ed Rondthaler (Photo: Wikipedia)

According to Ed Rondthaler’s 0bituary in the New York Times on August 29, 2009, he “Edward Rondthaler was one of the 20th century’s foremost men of letters — actual, physical, audible letters.” (NYTimes.com)

He advocated phonetic spelling in order to “vanquish orthographic hobgoblins, promote literacy and make accessible to foreign readers English classics…” (NYTimes.com)

Although his dream of a transition to English written as it sounds was not realized during his lifetime, his legacy was secured long before his quest for SoundSpel.

Mr. Rondthaler had already established a national reputation by helping usher in the age of photographic typesetting. Phototypesetting was for decades a vital bridge between the hot-metal days of old and the digital typography of today. (NYTimes.com)

The Huffington Post’s Alastair Plumb featured Rondthaler’s zany video last January with this perfect introduction.

Displaying astonishing verbal and mental dexterity, he explains via a miniature flip chart just why English as a language makes no sense at all. Sounds a bit boring, doesn’t it? Trust us, it isn’t. (Huffington Post)

Trust me. It isn’t!

No Comments.

Leave a Reply