An eccentric spelling of height

I came across the following anecdote in Coronet magazine (Sep 1955):

John H. Holliday, peppery founder and editor of The Indianapolis (Indiana) News, stormed into the composing room one day, determined to find the culprit who had spelled height—"hight." A check of the original copy showed that it was spelled "hight" and that, furthermore, the copy had been written by Mr. Holliday.

"If that's the way I spelled it, that's correct," he said—and the word was spelled "hight" in The Indianapolis News for the next 30 years.

I thought this sounded like an urban legend of journalism, but a check of The Indianapolis News archive confirmed that the newspaper did indeed consistently substitute 'hight' for 'height' — and not just for 30 years. They did it from 1887 until 1947 when, as reported by Time magazine, they finally updated their style guide.

The misspelling occasionally attracted the attention of readers:

The Indianapolis News - Aug 10, 1934



But as far as I can tell the paper never told their readers why they were misspelling the word. It was a long-running, private joke kept going for sixty years (long after Holliday had died) by the editors.
     Posted By: Alex - Wed Jan 18, 2023
     Category: Journalism | Puns and Other Wordplay





Comments
Looks like the same gremlins at work, with "...to misspell a certain a certain word. It is one of the duties of a good newspaper to print correctly..."
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 01/18/23 at 09:34 AM
I have come across a number of short stories over the years that make the case for simplifying the English language that range from the cogent to hilarious. The best one of them required one to read it out loud, otherwise it made no sense when read silently.
Posted by KDP on 01/18/23 at 12:49 PM
If U Cn Rd Ths u cn gt a gd jb w hi pa!
Posted by Phideaux on 01/18/23 at 04:54 PM
That looks like the exact sentences of most of those stories! I never learned to write like that - I kept all of the idiosyncrancies of the English language. There were enough of them encountered in my study of French, German and Russian.
Posted by KDP on 01/18/23 at 06:28 PM
KDP -- That line was the come-on used in advertisements for Speedwriting. They claimed it was much faster and easier to learn than Gregg shorthand and prepared you for a position as an executive's secretary or even a court reporter.

I remember reading somewhere that someone had written an entire novel that way. I was curious, but the thought of trying to get through pages and pages of that both terrified and disgusted me, so I never sought it out.
Posted by Phideaux on 01/18/23 at 07:11 PM
I thought Phideaux's post was the text on a Pennsylvania Highway Dept. road sign that had been hacked.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 01/19/23 at 09:15 AM
It does remind me of one of those trailer signs with changeable letters with a plea that people stop stealing their vowels.
Posted by Phideaux on 01/19/23 at 10:33 AM
And then there's Shavian. Which only really works if you speak with GBS' accent.
Posted by Richard Bos on 01/22/23 at 04:37 AM









Rules for posting: 1) No spam. 2) Don't be a jerk.