Spelling mistakes in note about spellings!

(79 Posts)
mrssmiling Thu 03-Oct-13 09:25:10

DS brought home a note about 'Spelling Practise' asking us to 'practice spellings with you're child.'
Do I say anything or just feel shock at the teacher's own spelling mistakes?
Has anyone else had similar mistakes in letters from school?

YDdraigGoch Thu 03-Oct-13 09:28:33

I would point it out to the teacher - though it may not be the teacher that typed the note. However, I would never let a piece of writing go out in my name without having checked it first.

My DDs' school's letters are usually dreadfully written, but it's the support staff who write them, not the teachers (though that shouldn't make a difference). What really annoys me is that they keep referring to "your son/daughter", when they could just say "your child"!

offwhitecurtains Thu 03-Oct-13 09:37:59

Yes. Quite a few times. From a teacher and from TAs (in their reading books, in their handwriting - definitely not out-sourced... 'you' and 'you're' seemed to be particularly troublesome). But in all cases the teachers were so nice, and I was fond of the TAs, and they all had other strengths, that I overlooked the mistakes. Also it was reception and Year 1 so I didn't think the kids would notice. If the children were older I might point it out politely, although I'd agonise over how to do it without causing offence.

spanish11 Thu 03-Oct-13 10:46:10

Yes, the Ta wrote, Your word it was X not Y.

Mashabell Thu 03-Oct-13 12:07:19

Some heterographs, like 'practice/practise' and 'it's/its', trip people up ad infinitum. In the US they have conflated 'practice/practise' to just 'practice' and the sky hasn't fallen in.

The distinction is utterly pointless and should be abolished here too. We don't differenciate between 'a notice' and 'to notice' or 'a promise' and 'to promise'. What's so special about 'practice'?

If it was up to me, I would make differentiation between all heterographs optional, from 'ad/add' to 'there/their' and 'two/too/to'. Let the pedants carry on using them if they must, but differentiating between them serves no purpose other than make learning to spell far more time-consuming than need be. Their identical sounds never cause any problems in speech. It's ludicrous to assume they would in a text.

The 2,000+ homophones with just one spelling for their different meanings (mean, lean, sound, round, ground...) never cause any difficulties to anyone. The 330 or so that we do spell differently are nothing but a silly convention which was created mainly by Johnson's dictionary of 1755.

But coming back to your question: to err is human, to forgive divine. We are all much better at spotting the spelling mistakes of others than our own. U can be sure that whoever wrote the note knows what it should be. S/he just made a mistake.

shellingtonboots Thu 03-Oct-13 12:17:51

Last week's homework had "practicing" and again in a letter yesterday "to practice".

The home-school diary has "stationary" for pens/paper etc for the second year running.

I know it's easy to be critical and everyone (including me - prob loads in this post as I'm pretending to be working...) makes mistakes. But I do think schools should set an example.

Having said that, I'm too chicken to mention it to them (just grumble to myself!).

BirdyBedtime Thu 03-Oct-13 13:29:35

We had a list of spelling words home headed Plantinum words - I did heave a big sigh and apparently the teacher was mortified when someone pointed it out to her, so mistakes do happen.

To me the 'you're' is more concerning a mistake than practise.

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 21:15:22

We don't differenciate

Nor does anyone else. On what planet, whether "reformed" spelling or the stuff that the rest of us use, would it be "differentiation" but "differenciate"? It's wrong in terms of standard English, and utterly pointless as one of your silly made-up "reformed" spellings. How is it more logical than differentiate and differentiation? The answer is, of course, that you make the spellings up as you go along.

And it's You, not U. I see you're writing I this week, not i. Making it up as you go along, again.

Mashabell Fri 04-Oct-13 07:10:50

'Differenciate' was actually a spelling mistake on my part - a logical slip.
'Difference', therefore 'differenciate', like 'appreciate' - but English does not work like that.

People who object to modernisation of English spelling often argue that this would destroy links between words, but English often does anyway, as with 'difference - differentiate', 'space - spatial' (cf. face - facial); speak – speech, nine – ninth, four – forty....

Very few people realise how this mess came about. The system was
messed up mainly by people who did not care how easy or difficult it made learning to read and write:

1) 9th C scribes who thought that having the letter u next to m or n made reading difficult (munth) and so used o instead (month, mother, mongrel).

2) Court clerks who were annoyed about having to switch from French to English (around 1430, after the end of the 100 years war between France and England), and changed simpler earlier spellings like 'hed, welth, heven' and 'reson, seson, speke' to head, reason, etc.'

3) First English type-setters (starting 1476) who were fond of adding extra letters to words, because they were paid by the line (come, some, have, give, inne, itte, hadde).

4) Dutch, Belgian, German and French printers of Tyndale's New Testament of 1525 and then his whole bible, because in England the printing of them was illegal until 1539, but people were desperate to read them. The bishop of London kept buying them up for burning in St Paul's yard, but they kept being reprinted in many places, in at least 40 different editions, with their spellings becoming more and more varied.

5) Private tutors to the rich who compiled the first English dictionaries and were not in the least interested in making learning to read and write easy for anyone, especially not the masses. They wanted to protect their jobs and superior status.

6) Samuel Johnson who thought that it would be a shame to lose all of the rich variety of English spelling (e.g. thare, their, ther, thair, there) and decided to link some of them to different meanings (their/there).

7) Jonson's veneration of Latin which led him to exempt many words of Latin origin from the English consonant doubling rule (as in 'diner – dinner). He bequeathed us the likes of 'habit, mineral, very', leaving the whole English short and long vowel spelling system in tatters (rabbit – habit, minnow – mineral, very – merry).

BrigitBigKnickers Fri 04-Oct-13 07:24:52

Wow Mashabel that's really interesting.

Coming back to the original op- The practice/ practise thing annoys me too. It doesn't matter how these words came about, there are rules and a teacher should know them- especially with the emphasis on spelling and grammar and the new SPAG test that came in last year.

(Am a teacher by the way)

englishteacher78 Fri 04-Oct-13 07:26:12

Practice = noun
Practise = verb
It's not hard. Provided someone teaches you the difference.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 07:39:05

Wow Mashabel that's really interesting.

It's also, in large part, bollocks.

For example, Masha ascribes the their/there distinction to Johnson (born 1709). But a swift glance at a First Folio from 1623 will show "There to meet with Macbeth" and "choake their Art" in the first dozen or so lines of Macbeth.

EBearhug Fri 04-Oct-13 07:52:08

I would have to. I had a letter from my grandmother when I was 11 or 12 or so, pointing out I had made the practice/practise error when I'd last written to her, and I wouldn't want anyone else to risk that. Not that anyone else shares my grandmother, certainly no one who makes such errors, and she's been dead several years now, and no one writes letters these days anyway, and... okay, shutting up!

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 08:02:52

The problem with these debates is that people won't agree terms.

So the spelling reform nutters think the purpose of written language is to mirror spoken language. This fails because acents vary from region to region so that a single "phonetic" spelling has to privilege one particular accent over all others. The only serious attempt to use phonetic spelling in Britain, ITA, took no account of this and resulted in a system of writing even more opaque than standard English for people in, say, Newcastle. Spelling Reformers tend to be unable to avoid using words like "defective" and "wrong" of such accents. Their claims about tutors conspiring to make English harder to learn (etc) look like a walk in the park compared to a proposal to re-spell English to make it easier for people in London to learn to read and write while making it massively, massively harder for those in Scotland.

So the claim that the purpose of spelling is to accurately mirror pronunciation is simply wrong. It isn't. They are pursuing an objective that is wrong, so arguments about how they pursue it are dialogues of the deaf.

Mashabell Fri 04-Oct-13 09:23:59

Masha ascribes the their/there distinction to Johnson (born 1709). But a swift glance at a First Folio from 1623 will show "There to meet with Macbeth" and "choake their Art" in the first dozen or so lines of Macbeth.
By the time Shakespeare's works began to be published, there was already a move towards standardisation, with printing houses adopting 'house styles', but during his lifetime people spelt as they pleased, often spelling the same word differently on the same page, as Elizabeth I often did.

Johnson was most definitely the final fixer of heterographs.

BurberryQ Fri 04-Oct-13 09:26:15

I would let practise/practice go but 'you're' for 'your' is, from a teacher, unforgivable and should be pointed out.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:46:52

"By the time Shakespeare's works began to be published, there was already a move towards standardisation, with printing houses adopting 'house styles', but during his lifetime people spelt as they pleased"

You're making it up as you're going along. Shakespeare's work "began to be published" twenty years before he died, while he was still an active playwright. The earliest is, IIRC, First Quarto of Titus Andronicus in 1594; Macbeth (to take my example) is thought to have been written in about 1606, so Shakespeare was very much alive in 1594.

"Make way to lay them by their brethren.
(sd: They open the Tombe)
There greete in silence as the dead are wont,"

It's the same spelling in British Library's third Quarto of 1611 and there you can look at pictures and stuff. There/their. 1594. Your move.

Mashabell Fri 04-Oct-13 09:47:22

spelling reform nutters think the purpose of written language is to mirror spoken language
There have been some such people.

I merely advocate making English spelling more consistent, so that learning to read and write becomes less time-consuming, but reducing some of its worst irregularities. The worst retardants of English literacy progress are:

Irregular use of consonant doubling (for showing short, stressed vowels)
merry (regular) – very (missing) – serrated (surplus) -
(423 – 513 – 239)
surplus –e endings [promise - cf. tennis, surprise] - (188)
Variants for:
e: end – head, any, said, Wednesday, friend, leisure, leopard, bury - (301 – 67)
u: up – front, some, couple, blood - (308 – 68)
o-e / -o: mole – bowl, roll, soul; old, mould, boast, most, goes (276 – 158)
ee: eat – eel, even, ceiling, field, police, people, me, key, ski, debris, quay
(131ee - 152ea – 173 others)
Long oo : food – rude, shrewd, move, group, fruit, truth, tomb,
blue, do, shoe, through, manoeuvre (95 – 101)

All I am suggesting is that reducing excpetions to those patterns could make English literacy acquisition much easier and vastly less time-consuming. Which is really a completely self-evident no-brainer. Learning to read and write 'reed, speek, beleev, reeson...' and 'bed, red, hed, sed, frend...' would clearly be much easier than having to do so with 'read every day... read yesterday' and 'speak, seek, shriek'...

I.t.a. was an experiment to test if making Eng. spel. more regular would speed up literacy acquisition, and children learned to read and write much faster for the year they were using it. It did not help them to cope better with normal spelling when they had to switch to that, but many schools insisted on using it, because teachers were gob-smacked by the ease with which children learned with it.

The experiment itself was foolish to change many of the main English spelling patterns, instead of merely reducing exceptions to them. They changed, for example a-e to a single letter which looks a bit like ae (maek, broek, etc.).

Mashabell Fri 04-Oct-13 09:49:21

Correction of slip:
so that learning to read and write becomes less time-consuming, BY reducing some of its worst irregularities.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 11:55:55

Which is really a completely self-evident no-brainer. Learning to read and write 'reed, speek, beleev, reeson...' and 'bed, red, hed, sed, frend...' would clearly be much easier than having to do so with 'read every day... read yesterday' and 'speak, seek, shriek'...

"Self-evident no-brainer": who needs research and evidence when it's so obvious, eh?

Presumably later you'll be explaining how your system works in parts of Scotland where "head" and "heed" are homophones. Will the thing on top of your neck be spelt "hed" or "heed" in your brave new world?

Mashabell Fri 04-Oct-13 19:41:50

"Self-evident no-brainer": who needs research and evidence when it's so obvious, eh?

There is plenty of research evidence as well: the 1963-4 large-scale study with i.t.a. which established beyong a shadow of doubt that with more regularly spelt English children can learn to read and write much faster; the Seymour et al 2003 research which investigated speed of literacy acquisition in 13 European languages and found it to be slowest in English, by a long way.

My analysis of the spellings of the 7,000 most used English words has identified which spelling patterns are quite regular and which ones have many exceptions and make learning to read and write English exceptionally slow.

The short /a/ sound (had, hat, rang..) is spelt irregularly in just 3 words (plaid, plat, meringue), and in not highly common ones at that, so is not much of problem, as 466 words spell short /a/ with the letter a.

The spelling of the /ee/ sound by contrast is completely unpredictable in all 456 words: 156 ea (meat), 133 ee (meet), 86 e-e (even), with assorted others in the rest (seize, siege, police, ski, me, people...). I don't think u need any other research to understand that if that sound was spelt just one way, learning to do so would take a minuscule fraction of time it takes now.

The irregularities of consonant doubling absorb more teaching and learning time than anything else.

Re accents,
people with accents which are very far removed from standard English would continue to have some problems even in a highly regular system like the Finnish one. Fewer than they do now, but still some.

Masha Bell

spanish11 Fri 04-Oct-13 19:47:53

The Ta wrote in my child spelling book, make sure if your sentences making sens.

goingmadinthecountry Fri 04-Oct-13 20:41:21

Of course it matters - that's poor grammar and not OK. I would correct it and send it back, and probably write to HT as well. I'm a teacher.

It matters and practice/practise is quite easy to get right once you know it follows the same rule as advice/advise. It is exactly that sort of rule that teachers and TAs should be taught and then disseminate to their pupils (perhaps not to YR/Y1).

I find it quite difficult to read sentences with the wrong version of there/their/they're, to/too/two or your/you're. I think we are stuck with the rules as they do matter to lots of the people who can already read.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 22:27:10

the 1963-4 large-scale study with i.t.a. which established beyong a shadow of doubt that with more regularly spelt English children can learn to read and write much faster

Only in the world of spelling reform can ITA be regarded as anything other than an unmitigated disaster.

literacy acquisition in 13 European languages and found it to be slowest in English

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.

EBearhug Sat 05-Oct-13 00:44:22

I gave a presentation today, where I had a slide where I'd put principle, when it should have been principal. I am pretty confident that no one else noticed, and I corrected it before I made the training materials available afterwards.

But *I* knew.

BreconBeBuggered Sat 05-Oct-13 00:53:57

I really, really don't think the mistakes referred to in the OP were the carefully-considered offerings of spelling reformists.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 01:36:41

I think we are stuck with the rules as they do matter to lots of the people who can already read.

In reality, the only purpose spelling reform provides is something to laugh at on a slow day. They can no more alter the language than they can make water be other than wet. They have been proposing various absurd schemes for a century (see the preposterous "English Spelling Society" website) and in the manner of all cults, they split and fall out with each other with furious abandon; there are almost as many reform schemes as there are reformers. They have achieved precisely and exactly nothing: not a single spelling has changed because of their futile work.

It is entertaining to ask them how they think their ideas would be deployed. They usually propose enforced change in schools, ignoring the problems of ITA. These included the inability of parents to write and in some cases read in the new spelling, and therefore unable to help with education (which was bad enough in the "teacher knows best" sixties, impossible now), the issue of regional accents, and most importantly the fact that employers would favour people who can read and write "properly" and therefore schools would tend to continue to use "traditional" spellings in order to help their pupils secure jobs. The new spellings would also make British writers look illiterate to everyone outside Britain ("One such danjer zone is th spelng of names, of both peple and places. Let us look at a smal sampl of english place names, and imajn we hav to telefone details of an itinry to a foren visitr"); comparisons with Webster's changes to US spelling are silly, as they are about one percent as invasive and still evoke mild amusement from British users nearly two centuries later. Changes to British English in the 21st century would be completely ignored by the USA, China and the Commonwealth, and would just make us look stupid.

But they take themselves so seriously that it is fun to stand back and laugh at all that wasted effort. They print utter nonsense, such as the claim that "23% of adults are illiterate" (true figure: around 1% of adults in the UK) and their claque of supporters think that it constitutes a grown-up argument. 100 years. Absolutely no progress whatsoever. Just think of the model railway layout the same effort could have constructed.

Mashabell Sat 05-Oct-13 06:44:45

Breatheslowly
It matters and practice/practise is quite easy to get right once you know it follows the same rule as advice/advise.

'Practice/practise' is far more difficult than 'advice/advise', because the latter are pronounced differently, but 'practice/practise' sound identical, just like
'to/a notice' and
'to/a promise'.

They are also part of the much bigger highly unpredictable unstressed endings mess of -is/ -ise/ -ice / -ace/ -ess ....:

Analysis, axis, basis, bronchitis, chrysalis, crisis, emphasis, hypothesis, iris, oasis, pelvis, proboscis, synthesis, tennis, tonsillitis, trellis.

A practice/to practise(in UK), apprentice, armistice, coppice, crevice, justice, notice, novice, office, precipice, service.
Menace, necklace, palace, surface, terrace. Lettuce.
Premise, promise.

Atlas, canvas, Christmas, pampas, pyjamas.
Purchase. Purpose, tortoise.
Carcass, compass, embarrass, trespass.
Abscess, access, congress, cypress, fortress, mattress, process, progress, recess, harness, witness.
(cf. confess, distress, success)
If used only for showing stressed short vowels, the doubling of s could be very helpful to learners. Using it willy nilly is pointless.

Mashabell Sat 05-Oct-13 06:50:32

As I mentioned before, the complete pointlessness of the 'practice/practise' distinction is confirmed by the fact that its abolition has caused no problems whatsoever in the US.

Mashabell Sat 05-Oct-13 07:15:14

Friday
not a single spelling has changed because of their futile work.

Not true. It was entirely due to the efforts of spelling reformers like John Hart and Richard Mulcaster that in the 17th C hundreds of words were shorn of surplus letters added by printers (inne, hadde, olde, worlde, shoppe...) in the 16th C.

These things take time, and seeing education as an entitlement for all is historically still a very new thing. The education act came in in 1870 but quite a few people still believe even now that exluding the bottom 20% of the ability range from it is perfectly o.k. and are happy to have a spelling system which does so.

I am sure it will happen eventually. I will certainly keep pointing out the inconsistencies of English spelling, and the learning difficulties and costs they incur, for as long as I am able to. The internet has made it much easier to educate people about them.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 07:25:22

but 'practice/practise' sound identical

So what? The reduction of all homophones to a single spelling is your objective, but one you have singularly failed to convince anyone is actually a workable solution to an extant problem.

Is anyone crying out for "Dhis komunikashon uzes dhe LOJIKON system of English spelling"? What about "MENY peepl wil noe dout taek it for graanted dhat eniwun huu haz maed fonetiks hiz profeshon wil, az a mater ov kors, be in faevor ov speling Inglish (and indeed aul langgwejez) fonetikaly. It iz dhaerfor wurth whiel pointing out tuu noetabl fakts, (1) dhat meny foenetishanz ar not speling reformers, and (2) dhat a good orthografy kanot be rigorusly fonetik."

Masha might think that Britain's health and happiness would be improved by writing utter nonsense like ""Aul eduekaetorz ar agreed dhat dhe soe-kauld 'disiplin' ov lurning to spel iz not oenly wurthles, but harmfool. Dhe graet objekt ov eduekaeshon (on dhe intelektueal sied) iz to teech dhe chield to uez hiz reezon; but in lurning speling he haz to hoeld hiz reezon in abaäns, for it iz flouted at evry step. Az for 'braeking hiz miend,' az U sae, ar dhaer not plenty ov uesfool and rashonal subjekts which aford ampl oportuenity for mental jimnastiks?" (loving the aa with a diaeresis mark for, I guess, abeyance: I'm sure it's more logical really hmm). But just think: a hundred years. Not a spelling changed.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 07:37:02

The education act came in in 1870 but quite a few people still believe even now that exluding the bottom 20% of the ability range from it is perfectly o.k. and are happy to have a spelling system which does so.

I hope you have a good smoke alarm. All those straw men must be flammable.

Rates of adult illiteracy in the UK are around 1% and falling. Dyslexia has many causes, not all (perhaps not even most) fixable by any sort of spelling reform. For example, given the success of coloured overlays and other means to reduce visual stress, it's ludicrous to suggest that children who are helped by such visual aids would be helped by changing spelling (especially to a fiddly system involving diaeresis marks). No-one, other than those eighteen century tutors in your ludicrous chronology, is "happy" about poor language acquisition: it's just that we don't think your mess of incoherent proposals form a solution to a problem.

"Our furst step must be to drau a distinkshon which dhe eesthetisists (if I mae soe kaul dhem) habituealy oeverlook. Dhaer plee iz not singgl, but dubl; dhae argue sumtiemz for dhe puer buety, and sumtiemz for dhe ekspresivnes, ov dhe kurrent speling, widhout (apaerently) realiezing dhe diferens. But a diferens dhaer iz, kleer and esenshal. Boeth pleez, or iedher plee, mae be valid or invalid; but dhae ar not wun and dhe saem plee. Let us konsider dhem in dhe order staeted."

So much better, I think. "drau" for draw, "dhaer" for there. What's the phonetic value of "d" again? What on earth does "iedher" mean? Is "the" a difficult word for learners that needs a new spelling to improve literacy?

Mashabell Sun 06-Oct-13 06:59:15

Rates of adult illiteracy in the UK are around 1% and falling.
Not acc. to Sir Moser's report of 1999. It estimated that 22%, or 7 million adults were 'functionally illiterate'. US stats on this are due out later this month again.

There is no sign that things are getting any better. In the last SATs for Yr6 1/4 pupils failed to achieve the expected level in English, i.e. the level which is good enough to cope adequately with secondary schooling.

They will improve a little during their time in secondary, but most of those who start secondary in the 'functionally illiterate' category leave in it as well.

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 10:13:01

Not acc. to Sir Moser's

I define "functional illiteracy" to mean "inability to use the correct for of address for someone with a Knighthood.

miffybun73 Sun 06-Oct-13 10:18:17

I had exactly the same thing OP and just ignored. I was a bit shock though.

It's really not that difficult.

My Mum taught me a good way of remembering when I was still at primary school.

C comes before S in the alphabet. N(noun) comes before V (verb) so C for noun and S for verb. Hope that makes sense.

My point with advise/advice is that you just learn the rule that practise/practise follow the same endings as advise/advice. I know that advise/advise sound different, you need that to get the mnemonic to work.

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 11:04:13

My point with advise/advice is that you just learn the rule

It's fairly obvious from the sound that the verb form is s: "I would like to advise you of a problem" is clearly not said to rhyme with lice or nice, and the Americans have kept the distinction precisely because they are not homophones. And likewise, when you say "I would like to give you some advice", there are aren't many words ending -ise which are pronounced to rhyme with nice. In the case of practice and practise they might have slightly different stress in some accents, but they basically sound the same (or at least very similar); advice and advise are not remotely homophones, in any accent.

Floggingmolly Sun 06-Oct-13 11:16:16

That's fascinating, Marsha!

MiaowTheCat Sun 06-Oct-13 12:26:06

We had an English teacher who made us jump up and down while chanting "c for the noun, s for the verb"... would probably have people up in arms these days objecting to that - but it didn't half wedge it in our brains for future years! (Although not if you read some of my former school friends' facebook statuses which make me cringe as I know they can spell if they try...)

I'd just have a word with the teacher in a "just don't want someone who will make absolute hell-on about this to be the one to point it out" kind of way. I'd be fine with someone pulling me up on an error I'd made if it was me.

cazzybabs Sun 06-Oct-13 12:29:18

advice and advise is how I remember ... still helps to be able to work out when you need the verb and when you need the noun

AnneEyhtMeyer Sun 06-Oct-13 12:44:10

I remember that "ice" is a noun, so practice is the noun.

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 16:05:25

The problem with rules about "ice" (or "fence") being nouns is that that neither is exactly uncommon as a verb.

Mashabell Sun 06-Oct-13 17:53:53

We had an English teacher who made us jump up and down while chanting "c for the noun, s for the verb"...

Does it not cross your mind even now, MiaowTheCat, that having to resort to such ridiculous mnemonics is incredibly sad? - That the people who invented the distinction were perhaps slightly mad?

Does not apply to 'notice' and 'service'.

Friday, 'the rule' that I am referring to is not for how to remember advice/advise, as you say they don't sound the same, you don't need a rule to remember them. It is an aide to remembering practice/practise. It does rely on you knowing that there are two spellings (practice/practise) and then thinking 'practice/practise follow the same pattern as advice/advise'. I.e. ice is the noun and ise is the verb.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sun 06-Oct-13 20:52:58

I am an excellent speller. Vety good. But I didn't realise I had been confusing practice/practise until this year. I am 44 blush

I'd appreciate you gently pointing it out, rather than seeing it as a failing representative of the demise of modern education as we know it.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sun 06-Oct-13 20:53:16

Vety vety good grin

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sun 06-Oct-13 20:54:49

The apostrophe mistake is inexcusable though! wink

Mashabell Mon 07-Oct-13 09:49:40

'Advice - advise', 'devise - device' are pronounced differently and therefore their different spelling make perfect sense.

Hundreds of verb/noun pairs get by with just one spelling (work, play, act, jump, trick...), as do notice, promise, service.

The practice/practise distinction is completely pointless. British English should follow the American example and abolish it. I am going to start practicing what I preach on this one.

It is completely idiotic to have different spellings for identical words, while making 110 pairs of different words get by with just one spelling:

Lead, read, tear; bow, row, sow; abuse, excuse, use, close, house; mass bass;
buffet, live, minute, mouth, pasty, Polish/ polish, pussy, second, slough, wind, wound;

content, frequent, invalid, perfect, attribute, commune, compact, compound, concert, concrete, conduct, conflict, conscript, console, consort, construct, contest, contract, contrast, converse, convert, convict, defect, desert, digest, discharge, entrance, escort, export, extract, fragment, impact, implant, incense, insult, insert, invalid, object, pasty, permit, present, produce, progress, project, prospect, protest, rebel, rebound, recall, record, refund, refuse, reject, relay, slaver, subject, survey, suspect, torment, transfer, transport;

advocate, alternate, appropriate, approximate, articulate, associate, co-ordinate, degenerate, delegate, deliberate, designate, desolate, dictate, duplicate, elaborate, estimate, graduate, intimate, laminate, moderate, separate, subordinate, syndicate, triplicate.

friday16 Mon 07-Oct-13 10:11:11

British English should follow the American example and abolish it.

For practice purposes it has.

But you really do need to put your childhood in Stalinist Lithuania aside. How, roughly, do you believe that "British English" can "abolish" something? On whose say-so? Enforced by whom? To reify, indeed personify, a language into something that can either abolish things itself, or can be acted upon directly to change by administrative fiat is, to use the delicate language you would use, mad and idiotic.

Do you think government can pass acts of parliament? Issues orders in council? Even in the days of "the man in Whitehall knows best" your ideas have been rebuffed whenever put forward: today, parents would refuse to have their children taught incorrect "reformed" spelling, and no school would dare try it. The Spelling Society could put its money where its mouth is and open a school that doesn't teach reading of English, rather teaches some made up crap (^MENY peepl wil noe dout taek it for graanted dhat eniwun huu haz maed fonetiks hiz profeshon wil, az a mater ov kors, be in faevor ov speling Inglish (and indeed aul langgwejez) fonetikaly. It iz dhaerfor wurth whiel pointing out tuu noetabl fakts, (1) dhat meny foenetishanz ar not speling reformers, and (2) dhat a good orthografy kanot be rigorusly fonetik.^) and see how many parents want to disadvantage their children by making sure they can only read a tiny number of pamphlets written by nutters (who also, of course, don't agree with each other about spelling anyway).

Practice vs practise is a distinction that is falling from use because it services no practical purpose other than pissing off spelling reformers . That's how language changes in the modern world: over time, standard usage changes. Howling at the moon doesn't speed that process. Your organisation was laughed at in 1933. Eighty years later, the answer is the same.

friday16 Mon 07-Oct-13 10:14:09

"For practical purposes", of course.

StyleManual Mon 07-Oct-13 11:37:48

Friday16 - Germany successfully managed to introduce a spelling reform about 15 years ago I think, so I don't think you can argue that spelling reform is not possible. Not that it's something that I'd be in favour of.

MiaowTheCat Mon 07-Oct-13 11:39:18

Nope because I don't have this silly spelling crusade you have Masha.

friday16 Mon 07-Oct-13 12:08:57

Germany successfully managed to introduce a spelling reform about 15 years ago I think

Germany is spoken in a contiguous region (ie, any pair of native German speakers can drive between their houses without ever having to leave a Germany speaking area). Even so, Austria and Switzerland have been reluctant to adopt the proposals, and many German and Swiss newspapers have adopted "house styles" which are not consistent with the "rules".

The changes are not remotely as invasive as proposed for English. 90% of the changes relate to the use of ß, which is mostly a typographic convention, the rules for the use of which were complex and inconsistent. They did not, for example, make changes akin to "Dhe reezonz for dhe komparrativ lak ov atenshon bestoed on problemz ov speling bie dhoez huuz maen interests lie in fonetik studiz ar not far to seek. Wun iz dhat meny ov dhe langgwejez ov Uerop ar spelt faerly fonetikaly, soe dhat in dhe kuntriz whaer dhoez langgwejez ar spoeken noe graet need for orthografik chaenjez obtruudz itself."

Germany is also, without wishing to engage in national stereotypes, a country much more amenable to state edict. For example, home education is illegal in Germany and private schools (Ersatzschulen) are heavily regulated. In the UK, no private school would dream of teaching dumbed-down English, and therefore its introduction in state schools would further widen social division.

EBearhug Mon 07-Oct-13 19:12:57

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.

Mashabell Tue 08-Oct-13 06:48:37

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.

friday16 Tue 08-Oct-13 07:05:31

It's main achievement

writes the expert on English spelling and grammar.

Mytholmroyd Tue 08-Oct-13 08:02:35

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!

Mashabell Tue 08-Oct-13 08:30:30

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.

friday16 Tue 08-Oct-13 08:36:17

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..."

benjalamummy Tue 08-Oct-13 08:46:45

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!

Mashabell Tue 08-Oct-13 08:54:03

Mytholmroyd
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.

friday16 Tue 08-Oct-13 09:49:43

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.

friday16 Tue 08-Oct-13 10:23:06

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.

Paragraph 7.29

"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?

Mashabell Tue 08-Oct-13 20:09:58

friday16
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."

Re
^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.

friday16 Wed 09-Oct-13 00:06:45

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?

Mashabell Wed 09-Oct-13 07:48:01

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?

MaireadnotMermaid Wed 09-Oct-13 08:18:35

Your idiosyncratic spelling is slowing my brain down Masha. Hard to attend to meaning when I'm trying to decipher textspk.

friday16 Wed 09-Oct-13 08:20:38

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.

math.ucr.edu/home/baez/crackpot.html

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?

friday16 Wed 09-Oct-13 08:30:57

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?

SoundsWrite Wed 09-Oct-13 08:51:20

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'.

friday16 Wed 09-Oct-13 09:44:01

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.

SoundsWrite Wed 09-Oct-13 10:45:52

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.

KittiesInsane Wed 09-Oct-13 11:01:00

God, this is more fun to read than geophysics.

Ahem. Sorry. As you were...

HopeClearwater Wed 09-Oct-13 11:49:51

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 smile

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.

friday16 Wed 09-Oct-13 12:53:55

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.

SoundsWrite Wed 09-Oct-13 13:07:41

...it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
In a tub, no doubt.

Mashabell Thu 10-Oct-13 07:04:33

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

a-e/ ay
ale/ail
ate/eight
bale/bail
base/bass*
brake/break
Dane/deign
faint/feintfate/fete
gage/gauge
gate/gait
grate/great
hale/hail
lane/lain
made/maidmale/mail
mane/main
maze/maize
rain/reign
raze/raise
sale/sail
stake/steakstrait/straight
tale/tail
vale/veil
vane/vain/vein
wait/weight
waste/waist
whale/wail* nay/neigh
slay/sleigh
Sunday/sundae
way/weigh

air / are / ear ...
air/heir*
bare/bear fair/fare
flair/flare
hair/harepair/pear/pare
stair/staretheir/there
wear/where*

au / aw
ball/bawl
faun/fawn Gaul/gall
haul/hall maul/mall
Paul/palltaut/taught*

e / er
berry/bury*
berth/birth
bred/breadearn/urn
fir/fur
herd/heard led/lead
lent/leant
pearl/purlred/readx2

-e endings
born/borne cast/caste fiance/fiancée
heroin/heroine

ee / ea ...
bee/be
beech/beach
been/bean
beet/beat
breech/breach
cheep/cheap
creek/creak
deer/dear
discreet/discrete
eerie/eyrie
eve/eaves
feet/featflee/flea
freeze/frieze
geezer/geyser
genes/jeans*
Greece/grease*
heel/heal
here/hear
key/quay
leaver/lever
leech/leach
leek/leak
meet/meatneed/knead
peace/piece
pee/pea
peek/peak
peel/peal
peer/pier
reed/read
reek/wreak*
reel/real
see/sea
seamen/semen
seem/seamsealing/ceiling*
seen/scene*
serial/cereal*
sheer/ shear
sheikh/chic*
steel/steal
sweet/suite*
tee/tea
teem/team
wee/we
week/weak
wheel/weal*

i, i-e / -y
gild/guild
him/hymn

bite/byte/bight
drier/dryer
flier/ flyerI/aye/eye
isle/aisle
knight/night*
lightening/lightning*
mite/might
rime/rhyme*rite/right/ write
site/sight/cite
slight/sleight
stile/style
time/thyme*
tire/tyreby/buy/bye
die/dye
hi/high

o-e / -o
bolder/boulder
broach/brooch
groan/grown
lone/loan
moan/mown
pole/pollroad/rode
role/roll
sewn/sown
sole/soul
thrown/throne
yolk/yokedoe/dough
no/know
oh/owe
roe/row
so/sow/sew
toe/tow

oo
moose/mousse*
root/route
shoot/chute*
troop/troupeblue/blew
coo/coup
flue/flew/flu
threw/through
too/to/two
you/ewe/yew/u
wood/would

or
boar/bore/Boer
border/boarder
coarse/course
for/four
forth/fourthhoar/whore*
horse/hoarse
or/oar/ore
pore/pour
sore/soar
war/wore
warn/worn

our
our/hour flower/flour

u
cum/come
dun/done
nun/noneruff/rough*
sum/some
sun/sonwon/one*

-ue
cue/queue* due/dew hue/hew revue/review

unstressed vowels in endings
-al / -el / -le
bridal/bridle
capital/capitol
dual/duelnaval/navel
principal/principle
counsel/council*
idle/idol

-en / -on
batten/baton*lessen/lesson

-er / -ar / -or
alter/altar
caster/castor
hanger/hangar
lumber/lumbar
manner/manor
meter/metre
miner/minor
peddler/pedlar
raiser/razor
rigger/rigor
seller/cellar*
stationery/stationary
summery/summary

-y / -ey ...
bogy/bogey caddy/caddie chilly/chilli story/storey

Doubled / not doubled consonants
ad/add
but/butt
Finn/fin
gel/jell*
in/inn
lap/Lapp
tic/tickaloud /allowed*
berry/bury*
canvas/canvass
carrot/carat*
Finnish/finish
medal/meddle*
metal/mettle*moose/mousse*
mussel/muscle*
pallet/palate/palette*
pedal/peddle*
peddler/pedlar*
pidgin/pigeon*
rigger/rigor*

Other unpredictable consonanants
c/ k/ ch/ qu
arc/ark
bask/Basque
cord/chord
franc/frank
kernel/colonel*
scull/skull
check/cheque/
Czech f
draft/draught*
faze/phase
profit/prophet*

h
hole/whole
holy/wholly
hoop/whoop

j
gel/jell*
Jim/gym* m
dam/damn
plum/plumb

n
nave/knave
new/knew
nit/knit
not/knot

r / wr
rap/wrap
retch/wretch
ring/wring
rung/wrung
rye/wry*
s / c
sell/cell
sensor/censor
sent/scent/cent
serial/cereal*
sight/cite*
signet/cygnet
council/counsel*
practice/ practise
Greece/grease*

s / z
braise/braze*
geyser/geezer *
grisly/grizzly*
prise/prize

w / wh
watt/what*
wet/whet
weather/whether
weal/wheel*
witch/which*
wile/while
wine/whine

oddments
Its/it’s bow/bough boy/buoy hart/heart
shoot/chute* marshal/martial complement /compliment

Mashabell Sat 12-Oct-13 07:37:05

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.

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