Absolutely Ridiculous English Spelling
Lesson 1. Some Basic Facts About English Spelling
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Why does the English language have so many words that are difficult to spell? The main reason is that English has 1,100 different ways to spell its 44 separate sounds, more than any other language. Some of the results of this are:
This situation exists for a variety of reasons. For some words, the pronunciation has changed over the centuries even though the spelling has not changed. Some words have been borrowed from other languages, and although they have kept their original spellings, people over the years began pronouncing the words according to English rules. Still other words have been borrowed from other languages and have kept their original spellings AND pronunciations, which makes them seem strange by English rules.
The reasons for the Ridiculous English Spelling do not matter, however, because English is what it is; it has been this way for a long time. If you want to learn to speak and write it, you must learn it as it is and not how it should be. Our task is to make that a little easier for you.
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Some common inconsistencies:
|Pattern||Examples||How they are pronounced|
|words containing "ough"||
|Words that sound the same but are spelled differently.||
|Words containing "ight"||alight, bight, blight, flight, fright, height, light, night, might, right, sight, tight, plight,||In all of these words, "ight" is pronounced like Long i + t.|
|Words with Silent Letters||
||All of these words are pronounced as if the red letters were not there, but when you write the words, you MUST include those letters.|
|Words that look the same but are pronounced differently.||
|Words with 'oo' that should sound the same but don't.||
|Words that don't sound like they are spelled||
Some more inconsistencies:
|Ways to spell Long 'U'||shoe, grew, through. do, doom, flue, two, who, brute, duty|
|Ways to spell Long 'O'||go, show, though, sew, beau, float, bone,|
|Ways to spell Long 'A'||may, weigh, late, pain, rein, great|
|Ways to spell Long 'E'||free, bean, magazine, gene, mete, be, mien, receive, believe|
|Ways to spell Long 'I'||fine, rhyme, fight, align, isometric, bayou|
The chart above is just a small sample of why Spelling Rules in English can be almost as much of a problem as spelling itself. Notice the "i-e" Rule:
|Use i before e, except after c, or when sounding like a as in neighbor and weigh.|
At this point you may ask, "What can I do about it? How can I figure out how to spell the words in this crazy language?" Believe it or not, there are a few things you can do that will help, but after you remember the rules and learn the 'tricks', you are left with this basic technique: Study, Memorize, Study, Memorize, Study, Memorize.
Exercise: For each of the words in the list below, write the definition (from a dictionary) and write a sentence using the word.
In spite of the fact that there are many English words that do not follow general pronunciation rules, at least 80 percent of English words DO follow normal rules. Go to Basic English, Lesson 7, to learn how to pronounce all the letters of the English alphabet.
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Educational Resources: *The Spelling Society; *English Language Schools; *Evaluation of Masters Programs in Speech Communication;
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