The idiosyncratic spelling of English words is the bane of anyone trying to learn the language. Many people have come forward with ideas about how to make it more sensible, or at least remove some of the more absurd examples, but they have failed because languages tend to change from the bottom up, because some new usage emerges more or less spontaneously and then becomes the norm. Efforts to change things by fiat almost never seem to work.
I found this list of eight past attempts at spelling reform (proposed by people like Benjamin Franklin, Melvil Dewey, and George Bernard Shaw) that did not work interesting. What was particularly amusing was item #6 on the list where president Theodore Roosevelt tried to use the power of the presidency in this cause, but still failed.
As president he issued an edict to the Government Printing Office, informing them that they would henceforth adopt a list of 300 changed words, suggested by the Simplified Spelling Board (including partizan instead of partisan, and phenix instead of phoenix). There was an immediate outcry (and ample mockery of President “Rozevult”), and Congress overturned the order four months after it was signed.
He also wanted to replace ‘kissed’ with ‘kist’.
Noah Webster was perhaps the most successful in this attempt with his 1828 dictionary, the first of its kind in North America, where he dropped the letter ‘u’ from the British spellings of many words.
Eddie Izzard had some fun with the difference between American and British spellings and pronunciations.