|............||How to spell better
color coded spelling for introducing the English writing system
alc - Compiled by the American Literacy Council
The list below notes some spellings which ar
given in American
type indicates how the word would be spelled in Spanglish
U may alreddy be using some or all of these
spellings in ur
When you encounter heterophones such as live for liv and laiv or [ea] for beak and break, you are probably running into pairs that use both the old Saxon spelling system and the post 1400 vowel shifted pronunciation. At one time words that are spelled the same either rhymed or referred to the long and short pronunciation of the vowel.
There are a number of strategies that can be used to improve your spelling.
One of the first inolves realizing that what you are spelling is often an archaic pronunciation. You are spelling someone elses dialect not your own.
For example gauged
appears to be spelling [gow-ged] or [gah-oo-ged].
the [au] diphthong has several pronunciations depending on which a sound and which u sound is being referenced. There are at least three of both.
tear /tir/ is spelled that way because that was the way it was once pronounced.
pronunciation changes over time, spelling often remains the same.
LOJIKON is an alternative, optional writing system for international use, employing logical and reasonably consistent symbols for consonant sounds. LOJIKON spellings are given in brackets below. Vowels are adjusted occasionally where necessary.
Standard sound-symbol correspondences for consonants
ch will stand for the one sound as in church, and will not be used for the sounds in chemist, machine.
f will replace ph, which usually denotes Greek origin, knowledge of which fact may be interesting but is not essential. Hence telephone (telefone), philosophy (filosofy).
g will stand for the initial sound in get, but not as in gem, for which j will be used; hence gem (jem).
j will stand for its normal English sound, replacing g, dg; hence gem (jem), judge (juj).
k will replace c, ck, ch where these have the sound of k; hence car (kar), rock (rok), chemist (kemist); also loch (lokh).
qu will be replaced by kw where so pronounced, hence acquit (akwit), quarter (kwarter), queen (kween), quick (kwik), but by just k elsewhere, hence queue (kue), mosquito (moskito).
sh replaces many confusingly different spellings for the initial sound in ship, hence machine (mashine), sugar (shugar), nation (nashon), special (speshal), ocean (oshan), schedule (shedule, or skedule for Americans), conscious (konshous), pension (penshon), passion (pashon), negotiate (negoshiate), Russia (Rushia), Asia (Ashia), luxury (lukshury).
s will supersede c when that has the sound of s; hence ceiling (seiling).
s or z? The frequent
use of s for the sound of z can cause confusion. The use of z where so
pronounced is suggested, even though it may produce some Unexpected results,
such as result (rezult), raise (raize), advice (advise), advise (advize),
his (hiz). Plurals and possessive forms of nouns, and present tense third
person singulars of verbs mostly have a z sound, as in dogs, says, but
sometimes they have an s sound, as in cats, talks. In these
th & dh The digraph th will be kept for the sound in thick or thin, but dh will be used for the sound in this or then; hence the (dhe), this (dhis), that (dhat). This change will affect many frequently used words. If used, it should be used consistently.
[th ū– is much more frequent than the sound in thin thung so it can stay the way it is with h serving as the marker. thh can be used if it is essential to mark the uknvoiced version of these two related sounds. ]
tu can be replaced by ch where clearly so pronounced. Hence: feature (feachure), picture (pikchure), but tune (tune).
x can be replaced usually by ks, but sometimes by gz where so pronounced; hence box (boks), excess (eksess), exist (egzist), examine (egzamine).
zh will be used for the middle sound in pleasure (pleazhure).
The gh problem This digraph at present occurs intrusively and illogically, and is usually silent. It can be dropped, sometimes along with a vowel in the cluster. Sometimes, however, it will be necessary to substitute a vowel or the consonant f. The following examples illustrate the patterns: sight (siet), night (niet), plough (plou), though (dho), through (thru), thorough (thoro), cough (kof), rough (ruf).
Doubled consonants In the absence of enough vowel signs, consonants are often doubled to show that a preceding vowel is short. Thus we have short and long vowels distinguished in canning: caning, tinny: tiny, comma: coma, supper: super. The context would normally distinguish the meaning of such pairs, but to prevent any ambiguity it is reluctantly recommended that doubling be retained where it serves this function. Elsewhere doubled consonants are simplified, hence accommodation (akomodashon).
Silent consonant letters Like Victorian children, only to be seen but not heard, silent letters abound in the present spelling of English. They need to be dropped, though this may sometimes entail substituting a vowel or doubling another consonant.
b is dropped from debt (det), doubt (dout). It is too late to teach millions in South Asia that plumber rhymes with summer and not with number — they will continue to pronounce the b, so it is best to leave such -mb endings intact.
d is dropped when dg becomes j, hence judge (juj), pledge (plej); also Wednesday (Wenzday).
g is dropped from sign (sien), but not when sounded, as in signature.
h is dropped from honest (onest), honour (onour); heir (eir), ghost (gost), ghastly (gastly).
rh has silent h in English speech, but it can be kept by speakers in South Asia who pronounce it in rhyme, rhythm (rhydhm).
wh has silent h in most English speech, but not in South Asia, and it is therefore kept in when, where, why.
k can be dropped from knave, knee, knife. The word know is used very frequently and would be ambiguous if spelt now or no; the spelling is therefore adjusted to noe; hence also known (noen), knew (nue). The ambiguity of knot (not) is thought to be acceptable, as it is a rarer word.
l is dropped from calm, palm, talk, walk and the vowel adjusted (caam, paam, tauk, wauk).
n is dropped from words like solemn (solem), but kept in solemnity.
p is dropped from words like psalm (saam), psychology (sykolojy).
r is kept, even when it is not pronounced (as frequently in southern English speech). Speakers whose mother tongue is not English are firmly advised to follow those accents such as Scots in both pronouncing and writing the r in words such as far, farm, more, cork.(kork), etc.
s is dropped from isle (ile), island (iland).
t is dropped from often (ofen) and from tch, hence catch (kach).
w is dropped from initial wr, hence write (rite), wrong (rong), and when silent in initial wh, hence who (hoo).
Note The word rite meaning ‘ritual’ is unchanged in LOJIKON, but it also has the meaning of present write, whose silent w is dropped. Since right appears as riet in LOJIKON, we find the same vowel written in two ways. This is unavoidable, as LOJIKON does not tackle the vowel system except for minimum adjustments.
F A S T R S P E L
fiv principls tu repair English spelling:
1. Cut out th clutr
of surplus letrs in wurds that serv no purpos tu represent ither meaning
2. Consistant spelngs for consonants, e.g. F rather than PH.
3. Consistant morfemic
and gramaticl prinsipls modifi th basic alfabetic sistem.
4. This wil result in mor predictabl spelngs for th 20 vowel sounds. This can be don bi cutng th numbr of posibl spelngs from over 218 tu forty, bi mor consistant aplication of present spelng prinsipls tu represent th spoken wurd, modifid tu visualy sho structural feturs of the English languaj itself, tu help reading for meaning. Eventualy vowel spelng patrns can be fewer stil.
This wil rezult in mor predictabl spelngz for d 14 vowel n 10 blends. This can bi dan bai cutng d nmbr v posibl spelngz frm over 218 tu forty, bai mor consistant apliceishan av...
5. For the present,
up tu 30 of th most comon short wurds with exess and irreguler spelngs
can remain unchanjed as 'sight' wurds tu avoid disrupting the apearanss
of text e.g. WERE ARE HAVE COULD WHO ONE. Lerners can cope with 30.
‘FASTr Spelng’ is a clean-up of th present spelng sistem tu make it mor consistant.
Tables and Charts
Note the difference between the saxon pronunciation used for Old and Middle English and today's pronunciation.
P.S. Last summer I was given the Hovde Family Spelling Book. Published in 1927, it had been passed from one to the other of the six children in my mother's family as they attended the Swea School near Camrose, Alberta. The book is a heritage treasure to me as I envision the rows of pig-tailed little girls and grubby-overalled little boys who studied from it. The book is dog-eared, tattered, discolored, marked up, underlined, and well-used. Scribbled on the inside front cover is a verse, not much different from what one might find nowadays: The more you study, the more you know, The more you know, the more you forget, The more you forget, the less you know, So why study?
The mor yu studdy,
the mor yu no
Introductory notes to the teacher say, "Society looks upon the ability to spell words correctly as one mark of an educated person. To have perfect spelling in all pupils' written work should be the aim. Nothing less should satisfy you or your pupils."
Preceding the 62 pages of Word List for the Grades, the following is given: "Children of any grade should be able, by the end of the year, to write perfectly all the words in their own grade list or in the lists of any lower grade."
Sources of Information
Spelling Links, Reflections on Spelling and Its Place in the Curriculum, edited by David Booth, 1991, Pembrooke Publishers.
Spelling Through Phonics, by Marlene J. McCracken & Rabert A. McCracken, 1996, Peguis Publishers.
A Guide to Children's Spelling Development for Parents and Teachers, by Mary Tarasoff, 1992, Active Learning Institute.
Spelling for Parents, by Jo Pheonix & Doreen Scott-Dunne, 1994, Pembrooke publishers Limited.
Frindle, by Andrew Clements. Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books.
Hovrde Family Spelling Book [out of print]
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