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How annoyed are we about this?

Discussion in 'English' started by mrvonnegut, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. "No, I getss coursework writtin liek dis. BUT, I'm not their English teacher so it's not my place ;)"
    From a teacher (of Music, I think) I know, on Facebook. So much for literacy across the curriculum... [​IMG]
  2. Yes, it is your place (and everyone's). And you should beat any teacher who abdicates their responsibility in this area.
  3. If a child were singing out of tune in my lesson would I correct it? Probably not, because I wouldn't be able to tell that it was out of tune. Perhaps it's the same problem here?...
  4. Maybe he was just trying to be funny?
    U may alreddy kno that my theory is that far fewer children and adults wuhd make spelling mistakes if Inglish spelling wos mor sensibl.
    I get far mor worked up about the stupidity of Inglish spelling which takes moast peepl ages
    t'master than their spelling errors.
    I moast dislike the spellings which pose reeding difficulties as well (e.g. read, one, you, your, could, would).
  5. You obsession with your unreadable twaddle won't help masha. You're simply wrong.
    Anyway, here's a pressy for the new year:

    A Fresh Hack at an Old Knot
    I'm taught p-l-o-u-g-h
    S'all be pronounce "plow."
    "Zat's easy w'en you know," I say,
    "Mon Anglais, I'll get through!"
    My teacher say zat in zat case,
    O-u-g-h is "oo"
    And zen I laugh and say to him,
    "Zees Anglaiz make me cough."
    He say "Not coo," but in zat word,
    O-u-g-h is 'off'
    Oh, Sacre bleu! such varied sounds
    Of words makes me hiccough!
    He say "Again mon frien' ees wrong;
    O-u-g-h is 'up'
    In hiccough." Zen I cry, "No more,
    You make my t'roat feel rough."
    "Non, non!" he cry, "you are hot right;
    O-u-g-h is 'uff.'"
    I say, "I try to spik your words,
    I cannot spik zem though!"
    "In time you'll learn, but now you're wrong!
    O-u-g-h is 'owe.'"
    "I'll try no more, I s'all go mad,
    I'll drown me in ze lough!"
    "But ere you drown yourself," said he,
    "O-u-g-h is 'ock'."
    He taught no more, I held him fast,
    And killed him wiz a rough.
    ?Charles Battell Loomis."

  6. Just an idea, but I'd probably be more worried about the fact that a child was singing in lesson than whether or not they were in tune.
    You have to pass a literacy skills test to become a teacher, and have at least a C in GCSE English. If a kid doesn't know when WWI was if we're doing war poetry, or gets confused with the location of countries when we're doing literature from different cultures, I help them out, rather than suggesting that they speak to the humanities department...
  7. My contact with WW1 and my knowing when it was is aided by having a grandfather who served during it. For a child, it may be difficult to relate to the time dimension as things get further and further into the past.Our age makes us forget that we too have only a child's experience to relate to the length of history.
  8. Oh absolutely! This is part of my point - as a teacher, I'm responsible for far more than ensuring the kids are fired out the other end of school with a GCSE in English!
    In fairness, most teachers are pretty darn good about literacy across the curriculum - the attitude displayed by the person I quoted isn't one I've regularly encountered.
  9. Agreed. I was being very unfair and inaccurate with my comment. Teachers have a responsibility to educate each student in as many diverse ways as practically possible, and the vast majority of teachers do this.
  10. I agree.
    My main reason for disliking irregular English spellings is that they are such an unnecessary distraction from this. They waste time, cause 'misspellings' and much extra marking.
    And most people, including teachers, have little real idea how English spelling became as bad as it is. I only found out after I had to stop teaching for health reasons and had the time to investigate.
    I apologise in advance for pasting in a big chunk, but teachers should really know this:
    <h3 class="post-title entry-title">How English spelling became so irregular </h3>The first English writing system was developed in the 7th century, after St. Augustine brought Latin to England in 597. The language and spelling have both changed a great deal since then. They did not start to resemble current usage until 1348, when a series of plagues helped to end French domination over England and the English language. The system from which current English spelling conventions have developed was established mainly by the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who died in 1400.

    Sadly, his orthography began to be diluted almost as soon as he had adopted it. English became re-instated as the official language of England around 1430, but many of the scribes and clerks of court, who had hitherto written only French or Latin, had trouble switching to it. Their difficulties are chiefly responsible for most of the still surviving French spellings in words of French origin (table, double, centre) and spelling inconsistencies, such as &lsquo;label - table&rsquo;, &lsquo;bubble &ndash; double&rsquo;, &lsquo;enter &ndash; centre&rsquo;. Most words of French descent were respelled to show their changed, anglicised pronunciation (e.g. &lsquo;beef, batter, battle, count, government, mountain&rsquo; - from &lsquo;boeuf, battre, bataille, compter, gouvernement, montagne&rsquo;).

    Chaucer&rsquo;s spelling system became even more seriously corrupted after 1476, when Caxton returned to London after residing 30 years on the Continent, to set up the first English printing press. He was assisted by printers who spoke little or no English and made numerous spelling errors (e.g. &lsquo;any, busy, citie&rsquo; for &lsquo;eny, bisy, cittie&rsquo;). They were also paid by the line and fond of lengthening words to earn more money, or to make margins look neater. Many words with earlier simpler spellings became more complex and longer (frend &ndash; friend, hed &ndash; head, seson &ndash; season; bad &ndash; badde, shal &ndash; shall).

    The biggest dilution of English spelling patterns, however, occurred in the 16th century, with the first printings of English bibles. They were published abroad, because English bishops supported the Pope&rsquo;s ban on translating the holy writ from Latin into native languages. After Martin Luther&rsquo;s public questioning of the Pope&rsquo;s infallibility in Germany in 1517, many English people became interested in finding out exactly what the bible said, instead of just hearing about it from priests in their Sunday sermons. William Tyndale translated it, but he had to flee England to do so.

    Tyndale kept moving between Germany, Holland and Belgium, where his writings were also printed and much reprinted, because English bishops, especially Cuthbert Tunstall of London, rounded up thousands for public burning outside St. Paul&rsquo;s cathedral. With repeated copying, from increasingly corrupt copies, bible spellings became more and more varied. Yet they were the first and only book that many families ever bought. Most learned to read and write from them.

    When Sir Thomas More&rsquo;s spies by finally manage to hunt Tyndale down and have him hanged and burnt at the stake near Brussels in 1536, printers began to change his spellings even more, along with his name, in order to disguise his authorship. By the second half of the 16th century English spelling had consequently become very chaotic. Elizabethan manuscripts are full of different spellings for identical words on the same page, even including the Queen&rsquo;s writings and the first authorised bible of 1611.

    The spelling disorder created during the first 100 years of English printing led to calls for the standardisation of English spelling. Teachers began to set this in motion by compiling lists of their preferred spellings. Edmond Coote entitled his booklet &lsquo;The English Schoolemaister&rsquo; and published it in 1595. It was reprinted 54 times, until 1737.
    Coote cut many of the surplus letters deliberately inserted by printers (e.g. hadde &ndash; had, worde &ndash; word), but not all (e.g. have, well, build). Unfortunately, Coote paid little heed to spelling regularity or ease of learning. His main aim was to help establish a single spelling for each word, generally opting for the most often used one.

    When Samuel Johnson began work on his famous dictionary of 1755, quite a few English words still had more than one spelling, such as &lsquo;ther, there, thare, their&rsquo;. He decided to link several hundred alternative spellings to differences in meaning, as was already beginning to happen, and thereby helped to make learning to spell English even more difficult. Mercifully, he did not apply this to at least 2000 other word with more than one meaning, such as &lsquo;mean/meane&rsquo; or &lsquo;arm/arme&rsquo;. There are no good reasons for any of the current English spelling irregularities and the learning difficulties which they create. Masha Bell
  11. Believe me, I'm about to start teaching this stuff for the first time next week, as I start my new position at a school with a sixth form, taking on a year 13 English Language class. My degree is in Literature, but luckily I did the combined A-level so I have some experience, albeit ten years ago.
    It is extremely confusing at time, but also interesting. It's as much a part of our history as "1066 and all that" and intrinsicly linked to it.
  12. Other ways to make the English language more confusing:
    <ol>[*]Post before the coffee has taken effect. </ol>
  13. English is the easiest language. That's part of the reason for it's success. Masha's obsession is dishonest and shows a profound lack of understanding.
  14. I'm not sure a linguist would consider any language being 'easier' or 'harder' than any other. English is has achieved its position as a world language due to historical and cultural reasons (the British Empire, American culture: films, music, food etc). There is nothing inherent in the linguistic system that has contributed to this.
  15. It has fewer case markers, a lot fewer and easier suffixes and it is less concerned about the order of words in sentences. It handles gender much more easily and has no 'tonal' (I think that's the term) variations in word meanings.
    While Spanish, for example, is easier as an almost phonetic language, the grammar is far more complex and has a considerable number of irregularities.
    But I partly agree your point.
  16. But the real point is that spelling is fairly trivial in the scheme of language learning. It's irrelevant to some languages.
  17. In reference to the original post, I get annoyed with attitudes like that too. We are often told that literacy is cross curricular and that we need to have standards across the school. So while the music teacher may not be teaching English, they have a duty to ensure that students are being corrected for the benefit of overall student progression and improvement.
  18. The language is very hospitable to neologisims and foreign loan words. Which means that, for instance, I can happily discuss halacha (Jewish religious law) in English, larding my English with Hebrew.
    The reason is partly because of the lack of inflexions, but the spelling system also plays a part. Hebrew has gutturals, for instance, which Anglophones find hard to pronounce, and for which we have no Latin alphabet symbols. Because we have etymological rather than phonetic spelling, these can be Anglicised (mis-pronounced), or a transliteration system can be used (ch for Het, as in loch) - language is a flexible thing, sometimes you want one, sometimes the other.
    It doesn't work the other way. Hebrew spelling is more or less phonetic, so they have to invent special symbols for English sounds that they don't have in their language. This is necessary for English, the international language, but it can't easily be extended to more languages.

  19. My website www.EnglishSpellingProblems.co.uk is now used daily not only by hundreds of English-speaking students and teachers but in many other countries too, and from time I get comments on it and learning English, such as this one yesterday.
    " <font size="3">I have recently come across your website concerning English spelling and pronunciation and I would like to express my thanks and gratitude for creating such a magnificent piece. I myself am a linguist graduate. I have completed studies in the UK on the degree English Language and Communication and ever since I started university I was keen on exploring phonetics and English phonology especially in relation to the difficult English spelling. It was particularly interesting and even more challenging to me, since I am an ESL learner and my mother tongue (I am Polish) is read as it is written. </font><font size="3">I have learnt English in a way that most ESL learners do, namely memorizing by heart the pronunciation of words by reading, reading and reading. I was never told of any rules governing English pronunciation at my Polish school. However, partially because I am curious type and partially because I teach English myself and perhaps the most part because I lived in England, once I started studying phonetics I was noticing the pronunciation patterns that you beautifully described on your website. </font>

  20. You are very naive, masha, and do yourself no favours with this kind of dishonest post.People who work with and understand language keep telling you are wrong but you refuse to listen.

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