Don't be agast (or even aghast)! Tribune once trifled with standard spelling
Burocrat, iland and frater all had limited staying power
The Tribune's simplified spelling experiment led to some cringe-inducing headlines: Shoe clew? Drouth dust? (Chicago Tribune / January 29, 2012)
From Jan. 28, 1934, to Sept. 28, 1975, the newspaper adopted a system of simplified spelling, a cause dearly felt by publisher Col. Robert McCormick.
He wasn't the first at the newspaper to fight the fight. His grandfather, publisher Joseph Medill, also was a proponent in the mid- to late 1800s, when the movement gained popularity in the United States, though Medill never went so far as to force the changes into print.
Others who backed the "reformed" spelling included authors Mark Twain and Upton Sinclair, industrialist Andrew Carnegie and President Theodore Roosevelt. In fact, Roosevelt ordered the government printing office in 1906 to use simplified spelling — and it did for a few months — until Congress got him to stop.
But nobody said no to McCormick, and Tribune readers had to get used to spellings such as burocrat, clew, drouth, hocky, skilful, sofomore, thru, tho and thoro. Other spellings that McCormick pushed have since become accepted, such as catalog, analog, dialog, harken and canceled.
The official list of words expanded and contracted over the years. The first batch was 24. At its height, the list included dozens of words, some more painful (iland, crum, yern) than others (etiquet, definitly, ameba).
In 1955, the year McCormick died, the Tribune called it quits, sort of. While most words reverted to the dictionary spelling, editors kept the –og endings and tho, thru and thoro. Interestingly, the paper noted, not one reader commented about the change, which had been made without announcement a week earlier.
Finally, in 1975, thru was through and so was tho, Tribune editors wrote, as it became clear the public wasn't following their lead. At least not yet. It would be another quarter-century before texting teens would pick up where McCormick had left off.
More examples from Tribune's "sane" spelling list
Advertisment (for advertisement)
Agast (for aghast)
Aile (for aisle)
Bailif, sherif, staf, tarif (for bailiff, sheriff, staff, tariff)
Bazar (for bazaar)
Controled (for controlled)
Controler (for controller)
Criscross (for crisscross)
Distaf (for distaff)
Extoled (for extolled)