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August 23, 2012

Crazy Spelling

Standard spelling is difficult enough in English, but then when you think about...

...alternate, historic or regional spelling, it gets even more puzzling.

Here are only a few examples; there are several historic English words still with us that keep their ancient spellings, among then are burnt, slept, kept and wept. "Burnt" can also be spelled "burned" but the 't' ending is from the Old English.

And how about the word 'work'? Why isn't it spelled 'werk'? Or 'wirk"? Or even 'wurk'?

It is very strange to even wonder who decided how any given word would be spelled - or at least how most of us would agree to spell it.

Or how about how a word is pronounced?

We have spelling rules that define (for the most part) how words are pronounced.

But how consistent are the rules that we have?

Here's one example from a recent class; I meant to write the word 'dog', but I left off the final consonant. My mistake generated a discussion of pronunciation; how does 'do' change to 'dog'? (In other words from 'du' to 'dah').

The differences between American spelling and British spelling are legendary. Are 'color' and 'colour' pronounced differently? Are nuances of accents tucked away into these spelling differences?

I live in the Pacific Northwest (upper left) corner of the United States. We have few large cities, and much open space - including mountains and open seas.

Does my geography and sense of space affect my accent and pronunciation?

I would guess so, but how? Or even why?

Let me know how you think where you are impacts how you speak.

As always, send us any new words or phrases that baffle you and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


Also, Morf just might be available to visit your school or agency this coming September. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com.

Posted by mmorf at August 23, 2012 12:26 AM


Are the flattened As of the midwest because it is so flat here?

Posted by: Andrea at August 23, 2012 10:17 AM

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