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November 06, 2012

Spelling And Punctuation

Spelling in English can be tricky. Most words are spelled (mostly) by how they sound, but....

...not always.

And even then, especially as new words emerge, spelling a word correctly can be a challenge.

The standard rules, 'i' before 'e' except after 'c' for example, generally stand firm, but there are exceptions.

Here is one way to keep track of emerging spellings from, where else, but Facebook.

You might want to add this page to your Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/thespellingpage.

And just in case you thought confusing spelling was a recent problem, take a look here for a glimpse of how previous centuries have dealt with the ever-shifting, rarely-truly-established rules of English spelling - http://books.google.com/books?id=ZMoRAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false.

Be sure to note the "Inglish spelling" that is authoritatively posted here. My favorite on the title page is the spelling 'ov' for our word 'of'. Don't you think 'ov' makes more sense?

Who knows why - or when - 'of' became established, but we all are accustomed to it now. But I mention it as yet another example of how spelling may or may not match the sound of the word, and the accepted spelling becomes established purely because of common and popular use.

Another difficult aspect of written language is conveying the attitude or mood of a statement. Words on a page can seem sterile or even puzzling. When we speak, we can emphasize words with tone or even body language.

Here's a list of proposed punctuation marks to convey our meanings that may not be immediately obvious - http://theweek.com/article/index/234470/13-little-known-punctuation-marks-we-should-be-using.

Like standards of spelling, standards of punctuation become established as we use them. Let me know if these new marks seem useful to you.

I confess to being an unrepentant word nerd, and I love the many possibilities and contradictions in a language as flexible and fluid as English - especially the always-unpredictable American version.

Send us any words or phrases that make you crazy 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.


Posted by mmorf at November 6, 2012 09:22 AM


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