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About Me - Jim Kanzelmeyer

Remote link to family and genealogy information.


Dedicated To a Cause

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. made a statement we all should take to heart:   "...we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for our country in return."   Speaking before Civil War veterans on Memorial Day, 1884, he encouraged them to put aside individual, selfish purposes and to exert their best efforts to strengthen common elements of society for the common good.

This web site is part of my personal response to that exhortation.

Personal history:

I was born near Manila, the Philippines (a U. S. territory then), on August 9, 1926.  My Mother and Father trained young Filipino men and women in Normal School as part of the U.S.-sponsored educational program.  The family returned to the States in 1929 to restore my Mother's health and settled in Glendora, CA, where Dad accepted a public High School teaching position.  Mom taught First Grade in nearby Claremont, CA, public schools.

I graduated from Citrus Union High School June, 1944 and was immediately enrolled in the Navy Specialized Training Program (V12) at the University of California, Berkeley.  I  received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry and was commissioned in the U.S. Naval Reserve June, 1947.  Retired in 1986 as LCDR USNR (ret).  I worked as Analytical Chemist for The Texas Company, Beacon, NY until I enrolled for graduate study at Oregon State University, Corvallis, receiving a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry in 1955.  I served as Assistant Professor of Chemistry at New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, from 1955 to 1957.  Hired as Analytical Development Chemist,  St. Joe Minerals Corporation, Zinc Smelting Division, Monaca PA, in 1957, I was promoted to Chief Chemist in 1963 and served in that capacity until retirement in 1987.

Publications include:
J. H. Kanzelmeyer and Harry Freund, "Ultraviolet Spectrophotometric Determination of Niobium in Hydrochloric Acid," Analytical Chemistry, 25, 1807-1809 (1952).
J. H. Kanzelmeyer, Jack Ryan, and Harry Freund, "The Nature of Niobium (V) in Hydrochloric Acid Solution," Journal of the American Chemical Society, 78, 3020-3023 (1956).
R. E. Van Aman, F. D. Hollibaugh, and J. H. Kanzelmeyer, "Spectrophotometric Determination of Antimony with Rhodamine B," Analytical Chemistry, 31, 1783-1785 (1959).
T. A. Collins, Jr., and J. H. Kanzelmeyer, "Spectrophotometric Determination of Indium in Zinc and Zinc Oxide," Analytical Chemistry, 33, 245-247 (1961).
R. E. Van Aman, and J. H. Kanzelmeyer, "Spectrophotometric Determination of Thallium in Zinc and Cadmium with Rhodamine B," Analytical Chemistry, 33, 1128-1129 (1961).
J. R. Knapp, R. E. Van Aman, and J. H. Kanzelmeyer, "Determination of Traces of Cadmium in Zinc-Rich Materials," Analytical Chemistry, 34, 1374-1378 (1962).
James H. Kanzelmeyer, "Zinc" in Treatise on Analytical Chemistry (I. M. Kolthoff, Philip J. Elving, and Ernest B Sandell, eds.), Part II, Volume 3, pp. 95-169,  Interscience, New York, 1961.
James H. Kanzelmeyer, "Quality Control for Analytical Methods," Standardization News (American Society for Testing and Materials), Vol. 5, No. 10, pp 22-28 (1977).

I was a member of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) 1963 - 1999, participating in Committee E-3 on Chemical Analysis of Metals and its successor Committee E-1 on Analytical Chemistry for Metals, Ores, and Related Materials.  Served as consultant on interlaboratory statistics to its precious metals subcommittee 1991-present.  As chairman of a subcommittee or task group, I was responsible for development and publication of these Methods and Practices:
ASTM E 396, Standard Test methods for Chemical Analysis of Cadmium (1970).
ASTM E 536, Standard Test Methods for Chemical Analysis of Zinc and Zinc Alloys (1975).
ASTM E 882, Standard Guide for Accountability and Quality Control in the Chemical Analysis Laboratory (1982).
ASTM E 1024, Standard Guide for Chemical Analysis of Metals and Metal Bearing Ores by Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (1984).
ASTM E 1601, Standard Practice for Conducting an Interlaboratory Study to Evaluate the Performance of an Analytical Method (1994).
ASTM E 1914, Standard Practice for Use of Terms Relating to the Development and Evaluation of Methods of Chemical Analysis (1997).
ASTM E 1950, Standard Practice for Reporting Results from Methods of Chemical Analysis (1998).
ASTM E 2054, Standard Practice for Performance-Based Description of Instruments in Chemical Analysis Methods (1999).
ASTM E 2055, Standard Practice for Referencing Test Methods for Chemical Analysis of Metals and Related Materials (1999).

How AKSES Came To Be:

One day as we drove home from school when I was about 9 years old, I asked my Mother why so many words are spelled so strangely. Her answer, "that's just the way it is," was unsatisfactory and so uncharacteristically vague for my school-teacher Mom that that place and moment was fixed in my mind for all time.  At the time I realized it was not an explanation, but rather a description of the status of our written language.  As a 9-year-old child, I recognized that English spelling was deliberately inconsistent for no good reason.

Spelling retains its hold, no matter how difficult to learn and use, because people do not recognize that an alternative form of writing is preferable or even possible.  I have never found a more intellectually honest explanation of spelling's long existence.  Most experts consider the question of replacing spelling impertinent and refuse to "waste time" answering questions about it. Those who address the problem write either illogical or self-serving responses, citing tradition, scholarship, and etymology as essential bases for arguments supporting spelling.

Growing up, WW II, undergraduate and graduate education, starting a family, and pursuing a satisfying career to sustain them took my full attention over many decades.  From time to time, the question "Why does the spelling 'system' seem so wrong?" reasserted itself, but I had no opportunity or time to consider the problem or solutions.  Then, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I found many independent examples that proved to me that spelling does not represent words systematically:

  1. Early work on man-machine communication via English suggested that the processes of converting between thoughts or spoken words and written words (or the reverse) is simplified if each word element is represented by a unique (phonemic) symbol.
  2. I found statements by Benjamin Franklin and Noah Webster claiming that Americans would learn to read and write more quickly and effectively if the new country would adopt a writing system in which each "speech sound" had but one "spelling."
  3. An i.t.a. (initial teaching alphabet) reading and writing program was adopted by the local school district (Hopewell Area SD, Beaver County, PA).  It lasted about 10 years and two of our 9 children attended Kindergarten and first grade under the program.  They learned to read and write phonemic text quickly, but those skills were useless for reading conventional text.  Conclusion:  If their remaining school experience had employed phonemic orthography exclusively, those boys would have had a 3-to-4 year head-start on education compared with children learning conventional orthography.  However, the i.t.a. program ended with first grade, and their further education was based upon spelled text, so the time spent learning to read phonemic text was wasted.  It was worse than wasted; the i.t.a. experience convinced the children that school is conducted with conventional writing deliberately to make the easy task of reading and writing harder.  This real-life experiment involving my own children proved two things:  1) Children master phonemic reading and writing about as quickly and completely as they acquire and understand speech, and 2) Reading and writing based on spelling is so difficult for most children that no matter how they are taught they cannot master it completely even in the usual dozen years of drill and hard work.
  4. I realized that Simplified Spelling plans, including Noah Webster's original proposal, do not completely rectify faults of traditional orthography.  Fault 1):  The spelling of a word is not predictable a priori from the way it is spoken, nor are the elements of a word recognizable a priori from a glance at its spelling.  Fault 2):  The spelling paradigm of written English is that the spelling of each word is fixed by "a spelling authority."  Individuals must memorize spellings, word-by-word, by strict reference to authority.  This "spelling system" inspired a prominent learning expert to state (as if a law of nature), "Children must be taught to read and write in laborious lessons..." [Emphasis added.]  That statement is true only if spelling is "the law."
  5. A phonemic paradigm of written English is based upon the common word-elements individuals share for speaking their common language.  For that reason, it is transparent to users.  Written words are communicated by processes exactly analogous to those used for spoken words.  No new language constructs (the hieroglyphs of ancient Egyptian, forms of Classical Chinese, or English "spellings," as examples) are needed.  Phonemic characters combine to form written words in the same way phonemic sounds blend together into spoken words.  An individual need not refer to a spelling authority, even for infrequently used words.
  6. Traditional written English is quasi-phonemic; it is only superficially a simple phonemic system.  Americans have a clear choice: 1)  Keep the spelling paradigm, thereby abandoning a substantial group from every future generation to substandard literacy, or 2) give all future children the gift of truly phonemic written English.
  7. Using a standard phonemic written orthography, all children read and write as well as they speak and understand spoken English before they enroll in First Grade, enabling them to assume a leading, active role in their subsequent self-education.  Teachers then become more effective guides in motivating students to learning how to achieve happier and more capable members of society.

The AKSES writing system, described on other pages of this web site, grew out of the above answers to my original question from 65 years ago, "Mom, why are so many words spelled  wrong?"  Subsequent thought and study changed that simplistic question to "Why do we continue to teach our children the separate language of spelling instead of permitting them to read and write standard English in a phonemic form?"  The answer must be that most people do not understand the consequences of our present writing system. Unfortunately, those who do understand seem unwilling to do anything about it.


Comments or Criticisms

I welcome comments, corrections, or additions from thoughtful readers, especially responses from those who are critical of eliminating spelling. Critics should compare the literary and etymological value of spelling in communication and education (if they exist) against its role as the single most significant roadblock to reading and writing for future generations of Americans.

Click this link to reply:


What fate do you wish for America?

     There are only 2 choices; by your actions you will select either A or B:

A)  Enable all children to read and write competently from the start of their schooling or

B)  Continue spelled English and condemn half the future population to non-reading semi-literacy.

Both outcomes are equally achievable.  Outcome B is inevitable if we do nothing more than we are doing now.  Outcome A is just as inevitable if We, The People, convince our legislators to encourage educators to use AKSES orthography to enable all children to read and write as well as they speak and understand speech by first grade.

I seek help getting this IMPORTANT MESSAGE to those who can do something about it.

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(Last worked on:  02-11-2013.) - James H. Kanzelmeyer