Spelling ability

Discuss Marilyn's column in PARADE magazine.

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Postby robert 46 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:32 am

JO 753 wrote:I read a book about dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz MD. There were a few chapters about how the brain handles reading, but I don't recall any association being made between our natural ability to instantly recognize highly variable shapes as particular animals and reading ability.

But, I didn't read the entire book and it was a little old and not likely to be the utmost in published research when it came out, so maybe your idea isn't new. However, it was new to me and it seems to be a great explanation for the mixed up letter thing.

Parade website, to Marilyn wrote:posted on 02/25/2012 01:12:PM pamela.madden11 Says:
Word Jumbles
Our daily newspaper has four word "Jumbles" every day. Two of them have five letters and two have six letters. My son looks at them and almost immediately knows the unscrambled word as if he were reading them spelled in their correct order. Occasionally there will be one or two that he doesn't know. In those cases later in the day he will just blurt out the correct word and says he doesn't realize he was still thinking about it. Is this unusual or are there many people who have this ability?

Clearly this shows that a great amount of subconscious processing goes on in the brain. I see consciousness as being the tip of the iceberg.
Can you honestly provide examples of words you understood entirely by etymological reasoning? In other words, you got nothing from context.

Antidisestablishmentarianism. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antidisest ... ntarianism

*****
Wikipedia wrote:Permissiveness

In the early 1960s Webster's Third came under attack for its "permissiveness" and its failure to tell people what proper English was. It was the opening shot in the culture wars, as conservatives detected yet another symbol of the permissiveness of society as a whole and the decline of authority, as represented by the Second Edition. As historian Herbert Morton explained, "Webster's Second was more than respected. It was accepted as the ultimate authority on meaning and usage and its preeminence was virtually unchallenged in the United States. It did not provoke controversies, it settled them." Critics charged that the dictionary was reluctant to defend standard English, for example entirely eliminating the labels "colloquial", "correct", "incorrect", "proper", "improper", "erroneous", "humorous", "jocular", "poetic", and "contemptuous", among others.

Gove's [P. B. Gove, Editor] stance was an exemplar of descriptivist linguistics: describing language as it is or has been used. As David M. Glixon put it in the Saturday Review: "Having descended from God's throne of supreme authority, the Merriam folks are now seated around the city desk, recording like mad." Jacques Barzun said this stance made Webster's Third "the longest political pamphlet ever put together by a party", done with "a dogma that far transcends the limits of lexicography".
-Webster's Dictionary
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster%27s_Dictionary

Now after fifty years, a Fourth Edition is under construction, publication date unknown. I hope the G. & C. Merriam staff have come to their senses to understand that the fundamental purpose of the dictionary is to be prescriptive, not descriptive. Only a drunk lets the horse take the cart where it will. A person of sober mind should be in the driver's seat.
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Postby JO 753 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:33 pm

You're finally coming around to my way of thinking. You agree that the cart should be moving and that it needs to be in a useful direction.
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Postby robert 46 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:55 pm

JO 753 wrote:You're finally coming around to my way of thinking. You agree that the cart should be moving and that it needs to be in a useful direction.

Do you have any endorsements, such as from the American Federation of Teachers (future motto: We can't teach Johnny to spell and read because we have the wrong alphabet.)???

As far as the illiteracy rates [1] are concerned, this includes a large influx of immigrants, many of whom are resistant to learning English. The U.S. was at one time a "melting-pot" where immigrants became assimilated; but liberalism under the facade of "preserving cultural diversity" has pretty much destroyed that.

[1] 86% of the general [U.S.] population had basic or higher prose proficiency as of 2003.
-Literacy, Wikipedia
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Postby hogshead » Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:42 pm

JO 753 asked:
Can you honestly provide examples of words you understood entirely by etymological reasoning? In other words, you got nothing from context.


Not that I can think of.
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Postby JO 753 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:34 pm

Doesn't it make sense to you, Robert, that immigrants will be less likely to learn English spelling because of the unecessary level of effort required?

Do you have any endorsements, such as from the American Federation of Teachers (future motto: We can't teach Johnny to spell and read because we have the wrong alphabet.)???


No. I have found teachers to be particularly cement headed on this and organizations are all about preserving the status quo.

Your motto is true now! The root of the whole problem is the insufficient number of letters.

Thanks for admitting that, hog. A rare thing in a debate on the internet.

As you wrote, the spelling can provide possible clues to the origin of a word, and from that, maybe a hint at the meaning.

Have you read Marilyns book on spelling? If I recall correctly, she wasn't too enthusiastic about etymology. There are too many false etymologies, multiple choices, and simple nonsense spellings, plus, the idea that you need to learn Latin, Greek and French just to have a chance of doing any etymologizing is comical.

The major factor is context. It can completely redefine a word, in fact, even though it's usually only for that instance. 'Walk' is a good example of a word that gets replaced often for style or emphisis.

Context works just as well in speech, so automaticly works for Nooalf.
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Postby hogshead » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:30 am

JO 753 asked:
Can you honestly provide examples of words you understood entirely by etymological reasoning? In other words, you got nothing from context.


I can't provide an example, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened. I really can't remember when was the last time I've heard or read a word that I didn't know the meaning of, not to say that that hasn't happened either. The point is, there are clues to etymology in the spelling of words that would be lost with Nooalf for no or little offsetting gain in my opinion.

Take the words pettifog and pedagogue. Written in Nooalf they might look quite similar, as (at least in my area) people pronounce pedagogue as to rhyme with "pet a dog". The root words as written in English are easy to see.

Just as a side note, changing the subject ever so slightly. I've noticed more and more, people changing the "D" sound to the "T" sound. For example "ditn't", for "didn't". Or "he mate me do it" for "he made me do it". And ones that most everyone does such as "latter" for "ladder". How would Nooalf address the spelling of these words? As they should be pronounced, or as they are pronounced , or maybe even as we'd like them to be pronounced?
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Postby JO 753 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:11 am

As they should be.

It would be up to the lexicographers to decide what that is. Not an easy job, since there's a definite gap between what is considered correct and the reality of how even the best speakers speak.

Nooalf was made with the broadcast quality midwest American dialect in mind. It's what you hear on all nationwide TV and radio and most commonly in American movies. Network news readers are probably the best examples. Absolutely everybody who knows English can understand this dialect. This is what I would go by if I made a dictionary.

It would also have common variations and other dialects listed in each entry.

I estimate that regular English is costing the world more than 300 billion dollars annually. That's not including the secondary costs of illiteracy, such as people who turn to crime because they can't get a job and the dyslexic geniuses washing dishes instead of inventing antigravity.

Have a look at The Children of the Code website.
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Postby robert 46 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:36 am

JO 753 wrote:Doesn't it make sense to you, Robert, that immigrants will be less likely to learn English spelling because of the unecessary level of effort required?

What makes sense to me is that it is more difficult for an adult to learn a language than a child because children are naturally pliable- having no introduced biases to hamper the process. However, people who choose to become assimilated will make the effort to accomplish this, and it was generally effective. In any case, the first generation born-in-America learned English as their common language; although the parents may have tried to preserve the ancestral language within the household.

You cannot argue with the fact that Latin was a phonetic language and that English uses the classic Latin alphabet of 21 characters plus five additional. Also, Spanish is basically a phonetic language and uses the same alphabet; plus a greater use of diacritical marks. So you cannot complain about the English alphabet being unsuited for phonetic spelling. All you are promoting is more characters and fewer digraphs. But changing spelling does not require a new alphabet because the same phonemes can be constructed from the current alphabet.

The spelling of words should not be changed because it will make all that has been written for 4+ centuries more or less unreadable. I use Webster's Third as the standard for spelling and meaning, but I generally ignore it in regards to pronunciation and usage.
Do you have any endorsements, such as from the American Federation of Teachers (future motto: We can't teach Johnny to spell and read because we have the wrong alphabet.)???

No. I have found teachers to be particularly cement headed on this...

And to them you are most likely viewed as "Krazy JO".
...and organizations are all about preserving the status quo.

Often for good reason- to prevent chaos.
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Postby JO 753 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:52 pm

Alot of rahash there. It doesn't help your case to try arguments that I've already shot down.

This is kind of new:

You cannot argue with the fact that Latin was a phonetic language and that English uses the classic Latin alphabet of 21 characters plus five additional.


Yes I can argue with that.

It's complete nonsense. The minimum number of letters needed to represent English phoneticly as it is normally spoken is 34. Resorting to rules simply to avoid adding more letters would, under the best circumstances, require more rules than letters, and the chaos of English goes far beyond that.

The majority of reform proposals stick to the Roman alphabet and use digraph rules to make up the difference.

If a mechanic used parts from a Fiat to fix your BMW, he could use your argument: "The Fiat ran fine so I used the pistons and connecting rods to fix your car. I only had to weld in a few Jaguar pieces. So what's your problem?"

Spanish is basically a phonetic language and uses the same alphabet; plus a greater use of diacritical marks.


A letter with a diacritical mark is a different letter! It's a bad idea anyway, since it takes more effort to write and read.
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Postby robert 46 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:29 pm

hogshead wrote:How would Nooalf address the spelling of these words? As they should be pronounced, or as they are pronounced , or maybe even as we'd like them to be pronounced?

Substituting one sound for another sound makes no sense as in "exit/eggzit". The traditional example was the difficulty orientals have with "r", substituting "l": "sorry" becomes "solly". But this is only due to their unfamiliarity with the Western "r". Consider the Germanic rolled-"r", which takes considerable practice to speak. One of the greatest distinctions I find is between singing and yodeling: many people can sing, but a good yodeler is a phenomenon.

One of my favorite examples is "bicycle". The vast majority of speakers pronounce it like "popsicle", and "tricycle" similarly. However, "unicycle" is pronounced like "cycle", not "sickle". I pronounce them <un-i-cy-cle>, <by-cy-cle>, <try-cy-cle>. Two people have in recent years asked me about my origins to pronounce them this way. I reply that it has nothing to do with dialect but that I think "unicycle", "bicycle", tricycle" should be pronounced like "cycle" because that is how they are spelled.
JO 753 wrote:As they should be.

This, of course, is entirely subjective. "Should be" needs to be based on standards of usage, which should not be set by wallowing ignoramuses.
It would be up to the lexicographers to decide what that is. Not an easy job, since there's a definite gap between what is considered correct and the reality of how even the best speakers speak.

It really is a class distinction. The upper classes enunciate, but the lower classes slur. Along with hoards of ignorant humanity comes debasement of pronunciation. So an erudite dictionary must set the standard.
Nooalf was made with the broadcast quality midwest American dialect in mind.

Which isn't saying much. What I have looked at of Nooalf seems a debauched pronunciation to me. One cannot take "ba-sic-al-ly" and excise a syllable to make it "ba-sic-ly" without showing the lack of an understanding of propriety [1]. And this fault seems to pervade your entire thesis. If you look at the International Phonetic Alphabet for English you will find 25 consonant and 21 vowel sounds. So your 34 represent a paucity of expressive capacity; unless you accept digraphs of your letter-set to represent additional phonemes- which would seem to defeat your whole purpose.

*****

JO 753 wrote: Alot of rahash there.

"Rehash".

: It doesn't help your case to try arguments that I've already shot down.

"You're a legend in your own mind." -Harry Callahan/Clint Eastwood

: This is kind of new:

robert 46 wrote: You cannot argue with the fact that Latin was a phonetic language and that English uses the classic Latin alphabet of 21 characters plus five additional.

: Yes I can argue with that.

Look up "Latin" [2]; and "Latin alphabet" to discover it initially had 21 letters. Note that the English alphabet has the Latin+5=26 letters. Quod erat demonstrandum. What is to argue with?

: It's complete nonsense.

You are a master of exaggeration. [3]

: The minimum number of letters needed to represent English phoneticly as it is normally spoken is 34.

25+21=46.

: Resorting to rules simply to avoid adding more letters would, under the best circumstances, require more rules than letters,

Rules don't take up space on a keyboard.

: and the chaos of English goes far beyond that.

So what? English is English. Esperanto is over a hundred years old and hasn't replaced any language, and neither would Nooalf. Go ahead and publish a Nooalf dictionary, and see how many copies you sell; but don't expect to turn a profit. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."


P.S. What happened to your "signature line"? [3]

[1] "automaticly", "phoneticly".

[2] "Latin spelling of the Classical period seems to have been largely phonemic, with each letter corresponding to a specific phoneme in the language, save for some exceptions."- Latin, Wikipedia

[3] eGZaJRRAsN IZ XU MiKRUSKOP UV LoJIK
Last edited by robert 46 on Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JO 753 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:07 pm

robert 46 wrote:Substituting one sound for another sound makes no sense as in "exit/eggzit".


People do it all the time unintentionally to speak more efficiently.

One of my favorite examples is "bicycle"...."Should be" needs to be based on standards of usage, which should not be set by wallowing ignoramuses.


So you have your own ideas about reforming English!

It really is a class distinction. The upper classes enunciate, but the lower classes slur.


What do you call the British 'recieved' dialect? (what you will hear from the stereotypical Oxford alumni) Thats slurred speech in my book, no matter how upper class we have been programmed to think of it.

"ba-sic-al-ly"


Interesting. I didn't know I was mispelling it. I'll have to keep an ear open to find if anybody speaks the 'al' syllable. You will notice that there is no 'basical', at least not in anybody's vocabulary or ordinary dictionaries.

25+21=46.


Have a closer look at the IPA guide for English. Even you will disagree with at least 7 or 8 entries.

There are 35 phonemes in English. A case could be made for an 'ng' sound and 2 different 'r' sounds. So 37 tops; anything above that is nonsense resulting from the bad perspective the linguists have based their art on.

Rules don't take up space on a keyboard.


Now you're suddenly worried about efficiency? How many keys on a typical keyboard do you never use?!

P.S. What happened to your "signature line"?


I don't have it set for automatic.
Tired uv Trump yet? I am:
http://www.7532020.com
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Postby robert 46 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:59 pm

JO 753 wrote:
robert 46 wrote:Substituting one sound for another sound makes no sense as in "exit/eggzit".

People do it all the time unintentionally to speak more efficiently.

Most people speak faster than they think.
One of my favorite examples is "bicycle"...."Should be" needs to be based on standards of usage, which should not be set by wallowing ignoramuses.

So you have your own ideas about reforming English!

No reform intended. Everyone pronounces "motorcycle" like "cycle". Why not "bicycle" and "tricycle"???

It really is a class distinction. The upper classes enunciate, but the lower classes slur.

What do you call the British 'recieved' dialect? (what you will hear from the stereotypical Oxford alumni) Thats slurred speech in my book, no matter how upper class we have been programmed to think of it.

I have said the French do not know how to pronounce their own language, and neither do the British (somewhat tongue-in-cheek). I have seen a number of British movies where the dialog is mostly incomprehensible. (Some is due to background noise, or speaking softly, however.) English can be spoken without accent, but few people want to speak it that way. I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, but have no trace of a NYC accent. My mother came from Maine, but had no trace of a Down-East accent. Both of my parents had Master's Degrees, and it showed in more-refined speech.
"ba-sic-al-ly"

Interesting. I didn't know I was mispelling it. I'll have to keep an ear open to find if anybody speaks the 'al' syllable. You will notice that there is no 'basical', at least not in anybody's vocabulary or ordinary dictionaries.

Street slang defines "basical: very, very, very simple".
25+21=46.

Have a closer look at the IPA guide for English. Even you will disagree with at least 7 or 8 entries.

There are 35 phonemes in English. A case could be made for an 'ng' sound and 2 different 'r' sounds. So 37 tops; anything above that is nonsense resulting from the bad perspective the linguists have based their art on.

Nooalf words do not pronounce right because they don't capture nuances.
Rules don't take up space on a keyboard.

Now you're suddenly worried about efficiency? How many keys on a typical keyboard do you never use?!

On the typewriter section I use all of them now and then. (Except perhaps "`", which I can't remember the last circumstance where I may have used it- other than now, that is.)
P.S. What happened to your "signature line"?

I don't have it set for automatic.

Would you care to explain "Exaggeration is the microscope of logic"? It doesn't appear to have any logically valid meaning.
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Postby JO 753 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:12 pm

It is often difficult to understand why something is right or wrong, or which of 2 or more choices is the best or worst. A way to help figure it out is to exaggerate some aspect of whatever it is.

Earlier in this topic I exaggerated the chaos of English spelling to show why it's a bad idea to not have a system and to have superfluous letters.

I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, but have no trace of a NYC accent.


I use 'accent' to mean the influence of another language on someone's pronunciation and 'dialect' for variations in native's pronunciation. The dictionaries I have don't have a clear differentiation between the 2 words.

Nooalf words do not pronounce right because they don't capture nuances.


And regular spelling does? Or the IPA? And what are these nuances?

A spelling system for everyday use has to be easy to learn and use. A spelling system to represent every aspect of speech would be too cumbersome to write and slower to read. The meaning of what is written and how it is written determines what is emphisized and how.
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Postby robert 46 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:32 am

JO 753 wrote:It is often difficult to understand why something is right or wrong, or which of 2 or more choices is the best or worst. A way to help figure it out is to exaggerate some aspect of whatever it is.

An exaggeration is a distortion of the truth. I don't see how distorting the truth can help. Politicians, of course, do it regularly.
Earlier in this topic I exaggerated the chaos of English spelling to show why it's a bad idea to not have a system and to have superfluous letters.

There is no chaos with English. It requires continuing mastery, but is sufficiently usable for practical purposes, and some writers excel in its use.
I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, but have no trace of a NYC accent.

I use 'accent' to mean the influence of another language on someone's pronunciation and 'dialect' for variations in native's pronunciation. The dictionaries I have don't have a clear differentiation between the 2 words.

from the Web wrote:Dialects are not the same as “accents.”

An accent is a way of speaking that reveals one’s place of origin. Accents add interest to the speech of different people. People talk about “mild” accents and “thick” accents. A mild accent is pleasant to listen to. English spoken with a “thick” accent can be difficult to understand.

Dialects have distinctive vocabulary, pronunciation, intonation and grammar.

"Where a distinction can be made only in terms of pronunciation, the term accent is appropriate, not dialect." -Dialect, Wikipedia

What I intended to convey is that people cannot recognize that I come from New York by listening to me speak, nor that my mother came from Maine.
Nooalf words do not pronounce right because they don't capture nuances.

And regular spelling does? Or the IPA? And what are these nuances?

"REDiReKTID", "UPDATID", "KREATID", "LISTID", etc., do not have an <-id> sound but <-ed>. Your pronunciation is sloppy.
A spelling system for everyday use has to be easy to learn and use. A spelling system to represent every aspect of speech would be too cumbersome to write and slower to read. The meaning of what is written and how it is written determines what is emphisized and how.

"Emphasized". You have no credibility because you are not proficient in English the way it is. You basically want to change English to meet your disabilities.
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Postby JO 753 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:31 pm

You can't keep pretending English isn't a mess! Finding my mispellings does less than nothing to support your case.

You are going to have to choose what you value more - your ability to reason or your ability to recall from your memorized word list.
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