So why have all the serious attempts at reform been almost complete failures? Overenthusiasm. The medicine is always worse than the illness, and all too often reform has been a case of “throwing out the baby with the bath water.”
Many of us have taken up to twenty years to perfect our knowledge of English, and we just don’t like to be told that we have to start all over again with a funny looking alphabet or with weird diacritical marks or with spellings that we have to pronounce slowly before we can guess at what word they are supposed to represent.
It wasn’t easy learning how to read and write. We are proud of our skills. We reject “dumming [dumbing] down” a beautiful language. Some people say that English is difficult, but Vladimir Nabokov, Roald Dahl, Jack Kerouac, and Joseph Conrad all had to learn English, and they are acclaimed for their writing. Millions of people worldwide have learned English as well as those famous authors (much to the embarrassment of most Anglophones, who rarely learn another language) and they, too, would not accept any drastic changes.
Any new suggestion of a radical reformation of English spelling will be ridiculed and rejected outright. Reform must appear to be logical and obviously needed. Changes in spelling must be hardly noticeable and not distracting. They must appear to the average person as a simple and necessary change that can be immediately accepted.
Actual spelling change is, however, happening all the time. Some examples are catalog, color, donut, fantasy, hiccup, jail, plow, program, theater, tho, draft, and yogurt.
Like it or not, the archaic through has become thru and we now have drive-thru banks and pharmacies as well as drive-thru restaurants. Probably every highway department on this continent also uses thru on road signs. ‘No Thru Road’.