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Thursday, September 17, 2015
This Book Spells Out Everything About Our Language
has been described as a Germanic language, with almost half of our words steeped
in Germanic origin. However, English is a polyglot language that has always
borrowed from almost every other language in the world. Our language reflects the diversity of people
who have lived in the United States.
However, because the language has many influences and is constantly
changing and expanding we find that the correct spelling of words has been
We see it
with social media and email. We see it
with the cultural challenges of Ebonics and Spanglish. We see it with the impact of foreign tourists
and the influx of immigrants. We see it in our classrooms, where kids merely
memorize spelling lists but fail to grasp the rules and guidelines that tell us
how and why to spell a word. Our nation
suffers from bad spelling.
worries. One man hopes to solve this
problem. Meet John Fulford. He recently launched a site called www.LearnEngishSpellingRules.com. He also penned a book, The Complete Guide to
English Spelling Rules.
He writes in his book: “This book attempts to show that English spelling is not
na illogical mish-mash of sounds and letters.
On the contrary, English spelling does indeed have logical rules that
govern how the words are spelled.”
sure if I agree with is assertion that: “English is a simple and uncomplicated
language that is easily learned and, when used correctly, permit s clear
communication with little chance of serious misunderstanding.”
75% of the world does not speak a word of English, but English is a universal
language for business and trade. Could
that be supplanted by Chinese or Spanish one day? Perhaps not in our lifetime, but as we see
from history, nothing stays the same.
The ruling language of a thousand years ago was not English.
Webster single-handedly reformed the modern North American English when he
published his dictionary nearly 200 years ago.
He built on an earlier dictionary from Dr. Samuel Johnson, and had a
standard for converting from British English to American English.
change of spelling is permissible if it removes superfluous letters from the original word.
a word is encouraged if it doesn’t alter a word’s meaning or create another
homophone or homograph.
all cases, new spellings must conform to the spelling rules.
should resemble, as closely as possible, the original word.
imagine what it was like when the new dictionary came out. It must have initially
caused confusion for writers, readers, and teachers. It must have taken a generation to transition
styles and to clean up published works.
writes: “This common working man, who was most in need of a better education,
was not asked for his opinion of the work of the spelling reformers. The most violent criticism of reform came
from newspaper editors, writers, and statesmen, all of whom saw it as an attack
on that which they valued the most – their excellent grasp of English and their
hard-earned knowledge of its intricacies and subtleties.”
clearly lays out, with examples, all of the many rules we should have learned in
grade school but either never did or forgot years later. One misuse we often see is that of the
apostrophe. “Never use an apostrophe
when a plural is intended,” he writes. "The possessive apostrophe indicates ownership: the president’s
speech. If we mean ownership of the
plural, use it after the “s”: “the trains’ manufacturer failed.”
through the book, you realize how much there is to know:
silent e and its usage
y to i
less and ness
uses clarity and simplicity to address the challenges of the language. His book
is based on two decades of serious research and over 40 years of teaching
students from kindergarten to college prep, as well as adult education. So whether you are unclear on the proper use
of ence or ense or you need to be reminded that q must always be followed by a
u and a vowel, you’ll enjoy The Complete Guide to English Spelling Rules.