The Alphabet of Nature; or, Contributions Towards a More Accurate Analysis and Symbolization of Spoken Sounds; With Some Account of the Principal Phonetical Alphabets Hitherto Proposed . . . Originally Published in the Phonotypic Journal, June, 1844—June, 1845. Intellectual History, Alexander John Ellis, Spelling Reform, Linguistics.

The Alphabet of Nature; or, Contributions Towards a More Accurate Analysis and Symbolization of Spoken Sounds; With Some Account of the Principal Phonetical Alphabets Hitherto Proposed . . . Originally Published in the Phonotypic Journal, June, 1844—June, 1845.

London: S. Bagster and Sons; Bath: Isaac Pitman, 1845. First edition. 8vo, contemporary (original?) rose linen spine, blue green boards, [4], v, [3], 194 pages. Two folding leaves with tables, included in the pagination. Joints frayed, board edges rubbed, some general spotting and soiling; text block edges dust-soiled; a good, sound copy. Item #19002

These sheets with stab-holes and an added two preliminary leaves, suggesting the gathered sheets of the original appendix serial publication here gathered for separate book publication; the instructions to the binders in the added prelims note the need to fold two leaves to avoid injuring the tables when the leaves are ploughed. An important contribution to spelling reform and linguistics, an early attempt at phonotypy from the phonetic reformer and mathematician Ellis (1814-1890): “In August 1843 Ellis began a sixteen-year association with Isaac Pitman, the inventor of stenography, later known as Pitman’s shorthand. Both were deeply committed to the view that the condition of the bulk of the working classes in Britain could be improved by education, with particular emphasis on literacy. Encouraged and supported by Ellis, Pitman perceived that an obstacle to literacy for many people was the spelling system of English. Thus, they argued, a reformed spelling system of English (phonotypy), based on the sounds of the language, could be created from the phonetic system inherent in Pitman’s shorthand (phonography). . . . A variety of phonotypic alphabets were produced—not always by mutual agreement—with the aim of providing a more logical, and therefore more quickly acquired, method of learning to read English” (DNB). This copy with an interesting provenance; pencil ownership note at the head of the front paste-down of the American utopian thinker, eccentric land reformer, and phonetic alphabet inventory Louis [sic] Masquerier, 99 Java Street, Greenpoint [Brooklyn], with a pencil signature on the paste-down below that of Edwin Leigh, himself an inventor of a phonetic alphabet and important figure in American spelling reform.

Price: $650.00