Friday, July 17, 2015
If you have ever tried to teach a child to read, or are coaching a young speller, you will soon come to realize how amazing it is that you absorbed this language as a child and are able to cope with it at all! English is a melting pot of words and influences. Phonics are great to teach reading, but you also need to memorize a lot of exceptions to the rules.
Through the years of teaching children to read, my students and I have been through many baffling moments. The silent e's have rules that are easy to learn, so they aren't so bad, but try all those other silent combinations. Knight and Gnat and Sign? Try explaining that pesky "-ough" that can make a sound every-which-a-way it wants. Bough? Trough? Thought? Through? Though? Enough?
(The poets decided they'd had enough, and went to thru and tho instead)
Then of course, if you take one of those words, like Enough, you also have to point out that other words that rhyme may not be spelled the same, like Stuff.
Bough and Bow and Thou.
Through and Blue and Blew, Too.
I recently started to listen to the Wycliffe Bible, English made a lot more sense back then in the 1380's. After listening to several of these, I have to say that I like Middle English.
I don't know how accurate the pronunciation is, though I have read that there is evidence that most silent e's were pronounced. Certainly the ghostly "ght" and "igh" letter groups make more sense spoken out loud. The letters K and G in Knight, for instance, were all sounded out in the video above. How we since managed to swallow them into silence I do not know.
I know some people are wanting to simplify the English language, but I wonder who might be for going back and making it the way it was?
Knowing how English was spoken in history helps me understand a lot of our words and their spelling. Now my students can be assured that those extra silent letters are not put into our words just to make first grade harder!
Saturday, July 11, 2015
I wonder if planning and making quilts like these take as much time and patience as building a house?
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
July is a happy month, but a very picked-upon month in calendar land. I always thought the calendar makers used it as a place to put their worst leftover photo: usually some cactus-y place in the desert, a dry and dusty scene taken at high noon, all in shades of hottest yellow. July deserves better than that!
I know that there is at least one loyal reader of the Times overseas, and I think a few more have visited even though it has been a while since the last post. I am glad that the big computer is fixed and I can once more type on a regular keyboard, The "smartphone" one-fingered typing style I have almost mastered, but there is no way I was going to attempt to write a whole post on one of those things!
I now know why people are always walking around, head bowed over their smartphone, in deep concentration: they are trying to figure out how to use the dumb things. There ought to be a parking section at the end-cap of every grocery store aisle so people can stop and fool around with their smartphones, that way there won't be traffic jams in the aisles. The phone calls people randomly, sends things where they weren't supposed to go, talks to you out of the blue, makes strange noises, and finishes your sentences for you. I'm used to reading strange emails now, where the "auto correct" has taken over, unbeknownst to the sender, who is concentrating on trying to get their finger to hit the right letters on the wee keyboard (see the article on loosing things). The new style of smartphone emails are like one of those brain exercises with the scrambled words that we are somehow able to read normally.
I have typed newsletters on the typewriter in the previous photo, which I got for a dollar many years ago, before the magazine stylists and decorators made them surge in popularity. I'd be lucky to get one for under $60 now! The quilt on the lawn above is a family heirloom. It obviously used up a lot of scraps for the maker, and I wonder what each fabric was originally used for. I like the blue material with the roses and open books.
The lace-wrapped bouquets are another pretty print.
I think these rosebuds are back in style!
Here's a hot summer month tip: water guns are fun until some little imperative plastic part breaks off inside, or they sprout a leak, or just plain fall apart. Try empty & washed "squeezable" ketchup bottles & lids instead. There are no tiny plastic parts to break, and though they don't spray as far, they are fun for the little kids.
Enjoy your July!