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. 

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