This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Spelling In English Essay

2876 words - 12 pages

The Challenge of Spelling in English

The American spelling bee does not sting, though it makes many children cry, does not produce honey, though it holds other sweet rewards, and does not swarm, though millions of Americans crowd around it every year like worker bees around their queen bee. This bee is not an insect at all; it is a contest of orthography. The contest is simple: a word is spoken and the contestant has to spell it. The contest is hard: the word is from the English language. Spelling bees have been a part of American culture for hundreds of years. In his book American Bee, James Maguire (2006, 54) writes: “The spelling bee, whether fierce or flirtatious, congressional or ...view middle of the document...

The words these kids spell are goliaths. They are multi-syllabic monsters of unknown meaning and origin—at least until the etymology are requested—and very few of the words in the spelling finals have ever been uttered by anyone watching. And there seems to be no end to the bizarre words the English language houses.

It is easy to be swept up in the obvious triumph of those who spell. They are champions. But isn’t their field of honor a bit odd? What have spelling champions done? They have used the language correctly. Are we in such awe of good spelling that we cannot attribute it to the human mind alone? One could object to these questions in the context of the spelling bee by pointing out that the types of words encountered at the National Spelling Bee are Herculean in their difficulty, outliers of the language and not firm ground upon which to speculate about language. Isn’t it odd that success in spelling fairly common English words is considered an extraordinary feat? When you spell a word, you are not creating language, you are repeating an agreed upon usage, following convention. Should any aspect of using language correctly be this hard?

Why is spelling so hard?

Blame the alphabet. You can never tell what sound a letter is going to make. Some-times a letter doesn’t make any sound at all, is silent—and then you’ll find a letter (like the “x” in box) that makes more than one sound in one appearance. As Bryson (1990, 120) points out: “We have some forty sounds in English, but more than 200 ways of spelling them. We can render the sound ‘sh’ in up to fourteen ways (shoe, sugar, passion, ambition, ocean, champagne, etc.)… If you count proper nouns, the word in English with the most varied spellings is air with a remarkable thirty-eight: Aire, Ayr, heir, e’er, ere, and so on.”

Blame the dictionary. Before the dictionary, there was no way to establish correct spelling, and spelling varied widely. The dictionary became a snapshot of the language, and words, once they were collected and fixed, didn’t change as rapidly. Sounds, though, were not captured and so continued to change even while words stayed put in the dictionary.

Blame the Dutch typesetters, who were paid by the line and so stuck additional letters into words. Blame the printing press. According to Peters (1968, 274), “The discrepancies between the way we currently pronounce and spell words may be attributed, in large measure, to the fact that our spelling, mostly inherited from Late Middle English, has remained more or less fixed since c. 1650, unlike the pronunciation of those Late Middle English words.” Peters uses as an example of this pronunciation slippage the word knight which, in the Middle English period was pronounced the way it looks.

Blame it on the history of the English, those British Isles invaded many times by many different languages and then invading other isles and continents with other languages with which to mix. Colonies were like a linguistic...

Other Essays Like Spelling in English

Australian English Language Essay

8031 words - 33 pages ). According to this purpose the main task of this degree includes carrying out of Australian English analysis using information about Australian speech in different fields.In compliance with specified purpose and main task of the research the following tasks were set in this project:1. Firstly, to examine Australian English itself, its peculiarities, history, origin, spelling and so on.2. Secondly, to examine Australian slang including information

The Slaughter Of The English Language

1158 words - 5 pages correct spelling and punctuation errors . One would not be able to write the same way in an academic essay as they would in a text message. If one would do so, that student would receive an F. No English teacher, or for that matter any teacher, would be thrilled nor impressed reading an essay filled with these common texting erors. Another way society is contributing to the deterioration of the English language is through text speaking. The text

Questionnaires on Sms Language

913 words - 4 pages No 20. Based on a scale of 1 to 5, rate how often you hear these words in verbal conversations; 1 being “Never” and 5 being “All the time”. __________ 21. Do you agree or disagree with the statement “During typing, the possibility of making a spelling mistake reduces because of auto-correct.”? A Agree B Disagree ____________________________________________________ (State your opinion) 22. In your opinion, what should be

Love in Europe

1948 words - 8 pages , if I write ‘’ The ciity of Buea’’ at the beginning of a document, the word ciity is a spelling error. * The red line might also indicate words not in English or not in the dictionary of the word processor. Buea is not an English word, so it is not in the dictionary of the word processor. * The green line indicates a grammar error. TO USE THE SPELLING CHECK FEATURE * Right-click the underlined word. A pull down menu will appear

Eil 1010 Essay

1907 words - 8 pages example, some of my friends intended to use American English, instead of British English, in their academic work since they started to use American English software such as Microsoft Word. However, changing from one variety of English to another requires more than merely changing spelling or vocabulary. One teacher reminded us that there is a series of cultural differences in how British people use their language and how Americans use theirs. The

Error Analysis Of English

2543 words - 11 pages Topic Error analysis on written English of two public and two private universities students Abstract This study seeks to identify and analyze errors by means of error analysis procedures. The objective of this study was investigating the written English errors of University students in males and females universities in Dhaka. It was conducted on purpose of identifying The written errors of English committed by the university students

Doctor in the House

737 words - 3 pages English, is generally agreed to begin around the time that the printing press was invented at the end of the fifteenth century. In the 1700s, the first dictionaries of English began to record vocabulary. The spelling of words became more stable; up to this time, writers used to spell a word however they wanted to! And as science flourished, thousands of new words were added to the English language, the majority taken from Greek – for example

Spelling Bee

1099 words - 5 pages Anza Tang Virgina Duym English 1100 08 September 2012 What Motivated Me Pressure? Yeah I know what that is, I have felt that ever since I started my first day of school. Being the oldest sibling and cousin, my family has always watched every move I make. It has been difficult being the oldest one and everyone was tough on me because I am the one that will be the first in the family to actually attend college. I have a chance! Every

Untitled

379 words - 2 pages program(for example,Excel) then say so.Resumes should include assertive words such as, Responsible for: .......... Assisted with: ........When lisitng educational experience, make sure you exclude starting dates for programs. All an employer cares about is whether or not you earned a bachelor's, associate's, or just a h.s. diploma.Most importantly, a good resume includes no spelling/gramatical errors. Who wants an employee with no English skills

My Educational Goals And Philosophy Statement

894 words - 4 pages used for dealing with more complicated ideas; one must learn to use a hammer before trying to build a house. For example, how can a student be expected to write coherently if he or she does not understand the basics of English and spelling? Not all students will learn how to write poetry or insightful essays, but it is possible to teach them fundamentals such as sentence structure and paragraphs. Learning fundamental skills does mean

Essay About Arts

1920 words - 8 pages endeavour; try 5. to test or try out [C15: from Old French essaier to attempt, from essai an attempt,from Late Latin exagium a weighing, from Latin agere to do,compel, influenced by exigere to investigate] As the world continues its improvement in different aspects especially in term of technology, different problems in connection with the grammar, spelling of the words whether it is Filipino or English. As of today there are so many

Related Papers

Spelling Deficiency Essay

1856 words - 8 pages Taft National High School Nueva Extension, Surigao City Action Research In English Spelling Deficiency Researchers: Jonalyn Y. Vitorillo Kristene Merie B. Danduan

The Art Of English Essay

1460 words - 6 pages to their context.Conversely, in phonology, the phoneme (phonetic symbol) will always represent the same sound (U211, Unit 5, Describing the sounds of English: a phonological approach). Consistent spelling wasn’t always as important as it is today and lacked uniformity due to the wide variety of regional dialects and lack of conventionalised spellings and authoratative sources; for instance the word ‘egg’ could be spelt either ‘egges’ or ‘eyren

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales The Language Of Chaucer

774 words - 4 pages form is presented in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, from which can be pulled the following four lines:   Whan that April with his showres soote The droughte of March hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veine in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flowr; (ll. 1-4)   The above is a mix of the original spelling with some gloss (in side notes) and spelling translations meant to aide in

Historical Changes In Language Essay

597 words - 3 pages English (Mahoney). Pronunciation of vowels changed and it is presumed the spelling reflects those changes. There are words in The General Prologue which are more difficult to understand and translate. Words such as ‘bifil’ became ‘befell’, ‘corages’ became ‘ramp and rage’, and ‘everichon’ became ‘every one’. These changes could reflect the introduction of another language to Chaucer’s Middle English vocabulary. Tracing words from Old English to Middle