Spelling mistakes in note about spellings!(79 Posts)
DS brought home a note about 'Spelling Practise' asking us to 'practice spellings with you're child.'
Do I say anything or just feel at the teacher's own spelling mistakes?
Has anyone else had similar mistakes in letters from school?
I hope that even just a quick scroll down that list helps lucky gifted spellers to appreciate a bit more how much memorisation learning to spell English 'correctly' involves, and perhaps makes them a little more forgiving towards people who occasionally slip up.
Those 500+ words are the hardest, but they are only a fraction of the minimum of 4,000 common words with tricky bits in them.
Coming back to the problem of spelling mistakes.
Of the 91 main English spelling patterns, 80 have some exceptions, but some have very few, e.g. the short /a/ sound is spelt differently in just 3 not particularly common words (plaid, plait, meringue). They are not much of a problem.
Only 20 patterns have more than 50 exceptions, and the most time-consuming to learn and therefore also most error-causing are doubled consonants, spellings for /ee/ and long /oo/ and heterographs. The latter cut across several spelling patterns.
I have a collection of 335 words which have different spellings for different meanings, but for about 80 of them most people learn just one (e.g. pigeon/pidgin, turn/tern). I have grouped the main 253 by the sound which they spell differently and will paste them in. They'll come out a bit jumbled, because i've got got them in tables, but just scrolling down will show u why they absorb much learning and teaching time.
If those 253 words all had just one spelling for their different meanings (like 'mean, lean, sound, found, bound and 2,000 others), learning to spell English would clearly be vastly less time-consuming than it is now.
They also make clear that phonics is of very limited use for learning to spell English. More useful for learning to read.
*Words with more than one spelling problem
air / are / ear ...
au / aw
e / er
born/borne cast/caste fiance/fiancée
ee / ea ...
i, i-e / -y
o-e / -o
cue/queue* due/dew hue/hew revue/review
unstressed vowels in endings
-al / -el / -le
-en / -on
-er / -ar / -or
-y / -ey ...
bogy/bogey caddy/caddie chilly/chilli story/storey
Doubled / not doubled consonants
Other unpredictable consonanants
c/ k/ ch/ qu
r / wr
s / c
s / z
w / wh
Its/it’s bow/bough boy/buoy hart/heart
shoot/chute* marshal/martial complement /compliment
...it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
In a tub, no doubt.
Perhaps, this is why, when not communicating verbally and face-to-face, most people indicate irony through the use of, say, inverted commas.
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
To be fair, friday16, sarcasm is much harder to signpost in writing than in speech where the speaker's tone is usually recognisably sarcastic. If you deadpan sarcasm then a lot of people don't pick it up. However... I agree with everything else you've said
MashaBell I'm familiar with your work from the TES forums, but nothing you've said so far is a convincing argument against primary school teachers needing to be able to spell the words which they have to teach their pupils to spell. Look at the Support for Spelling document, for example, which provides a fairly comprehensive scheme of work for teaching spelling in the primary school. If a teacher can't understand and memorise the spellings within it, she or he shouldn't be teaching.
God, this is more fun to read than geophysics.
Ahem. Sorry. As you were...
I was teaching language and not mind reading skills, Friday. Perhaps, this is why, when not communicating verbally and face-to-face, most people indicate irony through the use of, say, inverted commas.
When I wrote Which explains, of course, why people in Europe find English very difficult to learn, resulting in its complete failure as a worldwide common language of interchange. that whooshing noise you heard was sarcasm going straight over your head.
My precise argument is that English has proven to be a worldwide language because it's relatively easy to learn compared to other languages (say, Mandarin Chinese) which are very hard to non-native speakers.
In fact, while working for the British Council and a number of universities teaching English to foreign learners, I hope you taught them to look for irony, sarcasm and the like.
James Pitman's ITA was clever attempt to smooth children into fluent reading: it introduced children to the idea that the sounds of the language have been assigned spellings and that the language, despite the arguments to the contrary that Masha comes out with, is perfectly phonetic. Because English is complex from the point of view of sound/spelling correspondences, Pitman simplified it and invented a set of symbols so that, for example, there was one way to spell the sound /ee/ and not many ways. There were two main problems with this approach: first, fixing the sound/spelling system restricted its use to one accent of the language; second, the transition to accepted orthography had to be well taught and, in most cases, it wasn't.
To claim though, as Friday 16 does, that 'people in Europe' find English very difficult to learn is poppycock! They don't. In fact, while working for the British Council and a number of universities teaching English to foreign learners, the almost universal consensus among foreign learners was always that English is easy to learn. Of course, there are always difficulties with pronunciation but then this problem is the same for anyone learning a non-mother tongue language. At the risk of a little gratuitous personification, I bet that English is sitting there laughing its socks off at the idea that it is a 'complete failure as a worldwide language of interchange'.
New words like 'spiv' and 'chav' are no longer decorated with a useless –e.
Do you have a big box of made up "facts"?
"Spiv" was never spelt with an e in any remotely modern usage. OED lists it as slang of the 19th century with an e, but has no citations.
"Chav" might, theoretically, have had an 'e' because it was derived from Romani "chavi", with the terminal vowel sounded. However, as OED doesn't have it spelt like that ever, and traces its introduction only back to 1998, at which point it was spelt "chav", I call "evidence please".
Can you produce a written citation of "chave" (not in its obsolete farming sense) or "spive" to show this change?
John Hart wrote back in the 16th C that 'the learned are not interested in helping the unlearned'.
Yeah, because what one person said in the 1700s absolutely reflects thinking, society and culture today. Around the same time they were burning Catholics at the stake, but we don't draw many conclusions from that about ecumenical debate today.
that's only what opponents of any proposed changes invariably do.
As the old joke goes, they laughed at Einstein, but they also laughed at Coco the Clown.
It's not LANGUAGE change we are after - just modernisation of English SPELLING.
As if the two are separable in a culture massively dependent on written English, and where in fact one of the things that moved mass communication from writing to speech (the supplanting of the letter by the telephone) is now swinging back again. Twenty years ago teenagers spent all their time on your home phone; now they text and twitter and Facebook, which are all written.
A few changes are taking place. U is becoming common.
Common in every sense of the word. Try putting it in any formal communication and see what happens. Indeed, try putting it in any communication outside semi-literate thirty-somethings: my teenage children are scathing about people who use text speak, pointing out that as everyone has predictive entry on their phones it's just an obsolete affectation.
And is, by the way, an inability to spell "you" a major problem amongst learners?
Your idiosyncratic spelling is slowing my brain down Masha. Hard to attend to meaning when I'm trying to decipher textspk.
it's ancient history, and no-one really gives a shit about what an historian thought was a good way to teach English forty years ago.
I think that it does matter. Different ideas about how best to teach children to read and write, how to help them cope with the inconsistencies of English spelling, have been causing and disputes and numerous expensive surveys, commissions and reports for the past century.
I do not want to imply that (a) secretly, everyone supports spelling reform and (b) some nefarious conspiracy of old men is all that keeps it from sweeping all before it.
It's mainly lack of awareness of how English spelling differs from other writing systems and what costs its inconsistencies incur that has prevented modernisation of English spelling. Indifference to the plight of the lower classes is another reason. John Hart wrote back in the 16th C that 'the learned are not interested in helping the unlearned'.
U like to make out that spelling reform is simply a big joke - utterly rejected and treated pretty much as a laughing stock, but that's only what opponents of any proposed changes invariably do.
Could you point to a single change to the language that you or any of your kind have managed to execute over the past few decades?
It's not LANGUAGE change we are after - just modernisation of English SPELLING. A few changes are taking place. U is becoming common. So is 'luv'. New words like 'spiv' and 'chav' are no longer decorated with a useless –e.
Or any indication that anything you've ever said has convinced anyone that you understand the problem of language acquisition, never mind that you have any sort of solution to it?
Lots and lots from teachers and parents. Also lots of messages from dyslexics and parents of dyslexics for helping them to understand the main reasons for their difficulties with learning to read and write.
Or will you just, here as on TES, continue to cut and paste ...lists of words that your "research" has produced?
Yes, because u cannot understand the reading and spelling difficulties which English spelling inconsistencies cause without looking at the words.
I wonder what alias u used on TES?
Stating that opinions differ does not imply they gave it any consideration. Saying that people "should examine the question" is not giving something support.
None of this really matters: it's ancient history, and no-one really gives a shit about what an historian thought was a good way to teach English forty years ago. However, it's part of your pattern of deception: you always want to imply that (a) secretly, everyone supports spelling reform and (b) some nefarious conspiracy of old men is all that keeps it from sweeping all before it. Everything is read in that light (incidentally, the 1953 measure passed two stages, not three: the clue's in the phrase "second reading", and as first readings are pro forma in fact it was only debated once). You make "mistakes" that always give the impression that these measures were not, as actually happened, utterly rejected and treated pretty much as a laughing stock (and that, in the 1953 debate, Pitman in particular made an absolute fool of himself).
But anyway, enough of ancient history. Could you point to a single change to the language that you or any of your kind have managed to execute over the past few decades? Or any indication that anything you've ever said has convinced anyone that you understand the problem of language acquisition, never mind that you have any sort of solution to it? Or will you just, here as on TES, continue to cut and paste endless, and often completely incoherent, lists of words that your "research" (published in no peer-reviewed journals at all) has produced?
U seem to be getting very worked up about this, and yet your quoted paragraph from the Bullock report leaves no doubt that they gave some consideration to spelling reform: "The views of members of the Committee differ on the question of spelling reform". There is certainly a great deal in the report (p. 84-90) about the learning difficulties posed by the inconsistencies of English spelling.
I readily admit that I was wrong about the 1953 Spelling Reform Bill being thrown out by the Lords. It was not passed on to them, because as u rightly say,
"The bill's sponsors realized that it was likely to meet strong opposition and it might be rejected by the House of Lords."
^In passing, the Bill in 1953 was only asking for a trial anyway. Had it passed, that trial would have been ITA,^
The bill did pass all three stages in the Commons and that is why the Ed. Sec. Frances Horsbrugh agreed to finance the research with ITA which took place in 1963-4. It is described in detail in J. Downing's 1967 book "Evaluating the Initial Teaching Alphabet: A study of the influence of English orthography on learning to read and write".
Because many schools right across the world used ITA for many years, long after the original research by the National Foundation for Ed. Research and the London Institute of Ed., (because they were so impressed with the literacy progress children made on ITA), the origin, purpose and results of the study became obliterated.
The Bullock committee were "not unanimous on the value of i.t.a.", but they did not dismiss it either. They recommended that "that teachers should examine the question of i.t.a.", as u quote.
My memory of reading the Bullock report many years ago didn't include remembering that it came down in favour of using more ITA, so another dig into the text shows that Masha is, again, spinning stuff to suit her argument.
"As a Committee we are not unanimous on the value of i.t.a., but we believe that as there is no evidence of adverse side effects at a later stage schools which choose to adopt it should be given every support. We also feel that teachers should examine the question of i.t.a. on its merits. We hope they will make their own objective assessment of the various arguments for and against, and not accept the tendentious statements that are still made by some of its advocates and opponents."
That's a bloody long way from "came down in favour of using more", wouldn't you say?
Despite this, the Bullock report (1975) which gave serious consideration to spelling reform and was split on it,
* in 1953 the House of Commons had passed a Spelling Reform Bill which was predictably thrown out by the Lords*
Oh Masha, why do you keep making stuff up? Or, as those less charitable might say, lying?
Bullock made no recommendations on spelling. At paragraph 6.21 he explicitly rules out considering it:
"Various solutions have been suggested to the problems presented by the irregular system of spelling in English, the most radical of which is its actual reform. We received evidence in favour of this measure, and it was suggested that we might include attention to it in our recommendations. The views of members of the Committee differ on the question of spelling reform, and this difference of opinion is probably a fair reflection of the range and intensity of the views held by teachers and the public at large. However, the majority of us remain unconvinced by the case for national reform of the system of spelling in English. We consider the issues involved too complex and the implications too far-reaching to enable us to stretch our brief to the extent of giving the subject the detailed study it needs. In the circumstances, therefore, we do not feel able to make a recommendation on it."
They were split on spelling reform in the same way they were split on whether to have thin or thick cut marmalade for breakfast: the views on a topic that was not part of the remit of the enquiry were different. They weren't "split" on it in any useful sense, and they explicitly gave no consideration to spelling reform.
But obviously, given you think differently, you'll have the evidence to hand to show us the "serious consideration" Bullock gave the topic?
Moving on, the Commons did not pass a bill on spelling reform in 1953 and it wasn't thrown out by the Lords.
The bill received a second reading and went off to committee, but was withdrawn shortly afterwards by its sponsors. In the debate, Labour MP James Ede said the bill would only confuse the less intelligent by making them learn two ways of spelling, a rather prescient comment. Presumably your studies of English preclude you spending as much time as might with Erskine May and Hansard, but the bill never went near the Lords, so they had no opportunity to see it voted down, and second readings are granted to pretty much all bills that are not obviously deranged. As happened to the first iteration of the bill you cite, which was voted down 87:84 in 1949 (and which reaches low farce when Isaac Pitman cites Cyril Burt in his favour: that's Burt the charlatan and fraudster, with his made-up researchers and false statistics).
When you're making stuff up, you might consider looking at your own organisation's website, which has the merit of, unlike you, being accurate: "The bill's sponsors realized that it was likely to meet strong opposition and it might be rejected by the House of Lords." Back in the real world, private members' bills which receive a second reading on a thin majority on tiny voting figures (65 to 53) have precisely zero chance of progression anyway, so blaming it on the nasty Lords is all a bit otiose. That this is trailed as the high water mark of spelling reform shows just how low the tide actually is.
In passing, the Bill in 1953 was only asking for a trial anyway. Had it passed, that trial would have been ITA, and it would have failed just as it did in reality. So even had the 1953 bill been enacted, the outcome (Pitman pushes ITA, it turns out to be a disaster, everyone goes home unsatisfied) would have been the same.
There's a nicely formatted version of Hansard for the debate here. It is a total car crash.
that's what it was! ITA! I could already read when I started school in 1965 but had to learn again with a really weird alphabet and I never understood why.
So u wer not part of the original 1963-4 study which was carried out to establish if a more regular spelling of English would enable children to learn to read and write faster. (This was done because in 1953 the House of Commons had passed a Spelling Reform Bill which was predictably thrown out by the Lords, but the Commons vote made the government think that it should at least find out if spelling reform would make a difference.)
U wer the victim of stupid teachers who thought that they could obviate the need for spelling reform by using ITA for just the first year of learning to read and write, believing that this would help children cope better with traditional spelling afterwards. They even used it with children like u who could already read when they started school, which was utterly insane.
Beginners did really well with ITA for the year they were on it, and bright pupils generally suffered only a minor setback at the switch to normal spelling, but slower ones regressed badly. Despite this, the Bullock report (1975) which gave serious consideration to spelling reform and was split on it, came down in favour of using more ITA, although by then most teachers had come to see the stupidity of doing so.
Anyway ..... back to the OP..... I think mistakes like that in letters/emails are unacceptable. Everyone can make mistakes, but it only takes a minute to ask someone to do a quick proof read. I am a teacher, and while I would be mortified if I sent something with glaring errors out to parents, I would hope they would let me know!
I could already read when I started school in 1965 but had to learn again with a really weird alphabet and I never understood why.
And that's precisely what our Lithuanian friend wants: special "school spelling", to be taught in state schools (because private schools will laugh and ignore the initiative) so that state-educated children can learn incorrect English that is not used by their parents, prospective employers, publishers or any other country. It was a total disaster then; when she says "learnt to read faster" what she means is "learnt to read something that wasn't English faster". And only in the world of the Spelling Society (slogan: "looking forward to another century of achieving absolutely nothing") would it be anything other than a total disaster now.
Fortunately, one positive (there aren't many) to come out of the Gove years is the fragmentation of curriculum control and examination, so it would impossible to enforce this. Even if Ofqual intervened and mandated Newspeak at GCSE, schools would simply move to iGCSE or IB MYP which obviously wouldn't.
In reality, no government would do anything of the sort; ITA wasn't a central government initiative, and the misguided "educationalists" who promoted it have now been firmly put back in their boxes. Parents, today, would not accept that the man in Whitehall knows best: parents are substantially better educated (the cohort who currently have children learning to read are about 30% university educated, cf. 3% for the cohort of parents whose children were affected by ITA) and the idea of the 1960s that learning to read was a task that parents should stay out of has no traction.
No head would propose teaching Masha-speak, no governors would accept it, no school that did so would retain its pupils. You can imagine the head's presentation at open day. "We don't teach people to read standard English, we teach a special sort of English that needs special books that parents will struggle to read, and your children won't be able to read any of the books you have at home nor will they be able to read newspapers, books in libraries, anything on the Internet or indeed anything other than the stuff we have in our resource packs. And unless you speak in an RP accept, it's going to be particularly hard for you, so you northerners, Scots and, of course, you ESL/EAL parents can just suck it up. No, wait, come back, I haven't finished yet, where are you going..."
It's main achievement
writes the expert on English spelling and grammar.
..and after spending 20 years of teaching children when to use which.
I wonder if even a single person has never ever been caught out by the 'wrong' heterograph? They are the most pointless spelling hassle of all.
Heavens - that's what it was! ITA! I could already read when I started school in 1965 but had to learn again with a really weird alphabet and I never understood why.
I distantly remember my bafflement and my fathers anger and the relief the day they handed me an Enid blyton book which had normal words in it. I had thought my father had taught me the wrong way to read.
The broad West Yorkshire accent might not have helped!
It's main achievement
writes the expert on English spelling and grammar.
I don't know that German spelling reforms have been that successful. Pretty much every German I know (who are all in their 30s or older) still uses ß rather than ss,
The German reform of 2005, despite being quite minor, was very successful in the sense that schoolchildren now commit far fewer spelling errors. It's main achievement was to regulate the use of ß after long vowels and ss after short ones. Their use was much less predictable before 2005.
The last really big German spelling change was after WW2 when they switched from Gothic script to Roman. That one also took at least a generation to take hold completely, and many older people never changed at all. That's how most European spelling reforms have worked: old and new spellings co-exist for a while, just as many different spelling styles did in English until roughly 1700.
Not having any kind of language authority would probably make modernisation of English spelling trickier. Earlier reforms were shaped mainly by dictionary makers, Johnson especially. Their compilers tend to claim that they merely describe usage, but people now consult them as authorities on spelling.
But the biggest English reform of all, i.e. the cutting of surplus letters in the 17th C, appears to have occurred in a very random, completely uncoordinated manner, perhaps mainly because people could see that this was sensible?
So perhaps this could happen to something like the current consonant doubling mess too (shoddy – body, very – merry, sloppy - copy), if people like me keep pointing out how time-wasting and pointless its current irregular and unpredictable usage is? Spelling reformers started advocating the dropping of surplus letters at least a century before it finally happened.
That single change alone, i.e. adopting systematic use of consonant doubling, (shoddy, boddy) would greatly reduce the time which pupils currently need for learning to read and write and make the English long and short vowel method (din – diner – dinner) far more fathomable.
In any case, I don't know that German spelling reforms have been that successful. Pretty much every German I know (who are all in their 30s or older) still uses ß rather than ss, especially where you'd otherwise end up with compound words with triple sss in it. I imagine it would take a generation or two before it's really fixed.
Besides, like French, there's an official body to regulate German. English doesn't have that. The nearest thing we have is probably something like the OED, but that's descriptive, not prescriptive.
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