The Study of English Spelling
  • Why does English spelling seem so crazy? English orthography (the written system) evolved to show meaning first, which explains the reason behind many spellings that do not match pronunciation with  a one-to-one correspondence. English influences include Latin, Greek, Old Norman French, Old English, and loan words from other languages. Every word has a story that shows the meaning for its spelling. We investigate its history and connections. 


    Here's a quick example: why on earth is there a <w> in <two>? Well, a few reasons: 

    1. It makes it unique from other homophones (<to>, <too>) 

    2. The <w> was chosen because of its connection to other words involving doubles, such as <twin, twice, twenty, twelve, between, and even twilight>! 

    3. Many silent letters, such as the <w> in <two> aren't just silent-- they are markers. They mark connections between words in a spelling family, such as those above. 


    Every word has a story that shows the meaning for its spelling. In our classes, we investigate spelling history and connections in order to make reading and writing easier, but also more fascinating. 

If you are having trouble viewing the document, you may download the document.