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Will Brexit spell the end of English as an official EU language?

Though the UK is leaving, English is likely to remain a lingua franca in Brussels. Just don’t expect it to stand still.

I think it was Andy Hamilton who pointed out that, once Latin was everyone’s second language, it was no longer anyone’s first.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-12-27]

How to spell, according to second graders

It can be rele hard to gess wut they are trying to rite wen they misspell things, but if you swich into second grade mode you have a beter understanding. These young pepole have brains that are like blooming flawrs so it mite take a minit to lern how they rite. If you are a parent and have to rede wish lists spelled like this it might be a good idea to take a few minits, turn off the teevee, mute the fone and eat some cucese while you figure out what kinds of dalls, rele citins, woches, stuft animuls, sherts or other things your kids want. If you can't read everything, don't swet it. We're in the same bote. Their spelling will defenetly get beter. Just think of these misspellings as cyewt decerations on a writing assignment.

[Pineandlakes_Echo_Journal; Pequot_Lakes,_MN,_US; 2019-12-22]

Extraneous vowels and doctor productivity: an international comparison

George Bernard Shaw once quipped that the United States and the United Kingdom (and, by default, the Commonwealth) are “two nations, divided by a common language.” We assume he was referring to the United States’ system of spelling, which began to diverge from Britain’s in the 1830s under the influence of dictionarian Noah Webster.

[registration] Based on 2005 estimates, the US has the highest worker productivity among English speaking nations: 67.32 as a ratio of gross domestic product to purchasing power.3 In contrast, Australian worker productivity is 55.87, followed by the UK at 51.38, Canada at 50.29, and New Zealand at 36.83. It is possible that, in the medical realm, time spent typing (or writing) the extraneous vowels in British English accounts for these differences.

[BMJ; London,_UK; 2019-12-17]

Meet the grammar champs of North Staffordshire!

Results have improved across Stoke-on-Trent and the county over the last year.

To do well, they needed to identify different tenses, spot relative pronouns and adverbs, and distinguish between prefixes and suffixes. Other teasers in this year’s papers included being able to recognise a modal verb and to understand how a conjunction changes the meaning of a sentence. While the words they had to spell correctly included sighed, offered, accidentally, deceive and numb.

[StokeonTrentLive; Stoke-on-Trent,_UK; 2019-12-15]

Third of 11‑year‑olds miss target for 3Rs

Only 60 per cent of boys met the target compared with 70 per cent of girls.

[paywall] Only 65 per cent of 11-year-olds reached the required level in their combined Sats tests in reading, writing and maths, before they finished primary education. However, this was up by one percentage point on last year. There was also a slight increase in the proportion deemed to be working at a higher standard, up from 10 to 11 per cent.

[Times,_The; London,_UK; 2019-12-14]

Times tables focus helps boost primary school maths Sats results, experts say

More than half a million 11-year-olds across England took national curriculum tests in May.

Overall, 65 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard in the “three R’s”, up from 64 per cent last year, high 11 per cent reaching the higher standard, up from ten per cent last year.

[Telegraph,_The; London,_UK; 2019-12-13]

St Clare’s was buzzing with excitement over Spelling Bee

Recently, the senior hall at St Clare’s School, Porthcawl was buzzing with excitement for their inter-school Spelling Bee.

Pupils were required to spell a word in front of a panel of three judges, as well as a large audience of teachers, pupils and parents. The atmosphere in the hall was intense but thanks to English teacher Mrs Burns’ smooth compering, the last two pupils managed to stay calm throughout the competition, and they were able to answer every question thrown at them within the time limit.

[Glamorgan_Gem,_The; Cowbridge,_UK; 2019-12-11]

National Spelling Bee will have fewer wild cards next year

Six months after the bee ended in an unprecedented eight-way tie because organizers ran out of words that were difficult enough to trip up the best spellers, Scripps on Tuesday announced the first in a series of reforms to the competition.

[Washington_Post,_The; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-12-10]

Number of students taking English A-levels has slumped because they are put off by a 'dull' GCSE course, teachers warn

Fewer pupils want to continue their study of the subject after sitting their GCSEs.

Teachers said one of the reasons behind the decline was 'students not enjoying GCSE English', adding a key factor was the 'dry' nature of reformed English GCSEs – introduced in 2015 as part of a wholesale revamp by former education secretary Michael Gove. The new English literature qualification focuses more on classic literature, while English language makes good spelling and grammar a higher priority.

[Daily_Mail; London,_UK; 2019-12-10]

How I beat 11pupils to win Africa's spelling bee contest

Samantha Milan, 13, a pupil from Siaya County, is the winner of the 2019 Spelling Bee National and Africa Championship competition.

[Standard_Media; Nairobi,_KE; 2019-12-05]

'Laziness has won': apostrophe protection society admits its defeat

Organisation formed in 2001 to preserve punctuation mark comes to a full stop.

A society dedicated to preserving the “much-abused” apostrophe is to be shut down as its chairman said “ignorance and laziness” had won. John Richards, who worked in journalism for much of his career, started the Apostrophe Protection Society in 2001 after he retired. Now 96, Richards is calling time on the society, which lists the three simple rules for correct use of the punctuation mark.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-12-01]

Gender gap in grammar among 5 primary testing insights

Study of more than 3 million test results shows boys and girls excel at different subjects, while disadvantaged pupils fall further behind as they get older.

Girls outperform boys in all areas of grammar, punctuation, spelling and reading, but fall behind in maths during the primary years, new research shows. Analysis of more than 3 million standardised test results across the five subject areas has revealed how primary school pupils' performance is influenced by their gender, season of birth and background.

[TES; London,_UK; 2019-11-29]

What’s your favourite ghopti, tuna or salmon?

English is a tough language to grasp.

Speaking and writing English are not always easy, but this is all the more reason for a good ground in basic grammar in our schools. Unfortunately, like basic cursive writing and basic math, our children today do not have a good grounding in their own language. Often, those who learned English in another country have a better understanding of the language.

[Niagara_This_Week; Thorold,_ON,_CA; 2019-11-25]

Want to be lucky in love? Don’t flash your dangling preposition

Poor grammar and spelling is a real turn-off, new research shows. The Countdown star explains why it’s best to flirt in perfect prose.

[subscription] Who needs sex and love when they can have an aubergine and a pink pulsating heart? You might assume emojis have hijacked the language of dating, and that these modern versions of ancient hieroglyphs paint all the romantic pictures we need. But research last week from Tilburg University in Holland suggests otherwise, telling us that, as far as love goes, a mastery of spelling and grammar will get you further than confidence and a set of good teeth.

[Times,_The; London,_UK; 2019-11-24]

Judging a person on their spelling and grammar reveals more about you than it does about them

A proficient grasp of matters typographical says as much about a person’s intelligence as the colour of their hair: absolutely naught.

I know a woman who’s an incredible artist, working across a range of mediums. In her job as a secondary school teacher, her role is to engage students with art, encourage critical thinking and develop their imaginations and creative expression. She’s a wonderful person – but her spelling is atrocious.

[Independent; London,_UK; 2019-11-22]

NFA hosts annual spelling bee

More than 30 Norwich Free Academy students will participate in the 37th annual Lillian S. Young Spelling Bee Monday, November 25, at 6 pm in Slater Auditorium.

[Patch; Norwich,_CT,_US; 2019-11-19]

Why every child needs explicit phonics instruction to learn to read

Phonics allows children to read nonsense words, such as ones found in Dr Seuss books.

Written English is considered a code because letters and letter combinations (graphemes) represent spoken speech sounds (phonemes). The English alphabet has 26 letters, which represent 44 speech sounds. This means some letter combinations (graphemes) comprise more than one letter. For example, in the first sound of “ship” two letters, “s” and “h”, make one grapheme that represents the phoneme “sh”. For beginning readers, being able to connect graphemes to their corresponding phonemes is not an intuitive, natural process.

[Conversation,_The; London,_UK; 2019-11-11]

Fun with rhymes and word play helps children learn to read

Isn’t it weird that some words don’t rhyme that look like they should, like wood and food?

Parents with higher reading-related knowledge are more likely to point out interesting patterns in oral and written language to their children. They also tend to be more encouraging by providing supportive comments and useful tips while helping their children read. We have reason to believe that over time, these behaviours enhance children’s reading and spelling development.

[Conversation,_The; London,_UK; 2019-11-11]

What’s the different [sic] between ‘while’ and ‘whilst’?

‘Why is whilst only ever used in letters?’ asked my husband, casting aside an argumentative letter from his sister written in curly script and blue ballpoint. Why indeed?

[Spectator,_The; London,_UK; 2019-11-09]

The Oxford English Dictionary, like the English language, is all about change

The great lexicographers understood that a worthy dictionary was descriptive, not prescriptive. It would simply record what we’ve already agreed upon socially.

We tend to think of our dictionaries as tools of instruction; as books that set the standard, with a certain air of the definitive, for how our words ought properly to be used. But that was never the intention. The great lexicographers understood that the ideal campaign of a worthy dictionary was descriptive, not prescriptive. It would simply record what we’ve already agreed upon socially. It would, like the English language, live and breathe and change.

[National_Post; Toronto,_ON,_CA; 2019-11-06]

How often does Trump misspell words on Twitter? These researchers have an answer

President Donald Trump has a serious problem with spelling, as many news outlets and late-night hosts have pointed out. He has even misspelled his wife's name on Twitter. He recently mistyped his Defense Secretary's name, too. But some of his typos have been deleted and corrected. Others have been forgotten — "covfefe" being a funny exception. There doesn't seem to be a comprehensive list. So CNN's "Reliable Sources" asked the Factba.se website, which tracks every word uttered by Trump and other politicians, to come up with a count.

[CNN; Atlanta,_GA,_US; 2019-11-04]

Why mistakes matter

How errors show the learning gaps in #phonics for functional skills

A student who spells ‘mechanic’ as ‘meckanik’ may not know that sound /c/ can be spelled in different ways and . as tutors we can decide whether to simply correct the spelling or use it as an opportunity to address the lack in learning by explicitly teaching the spellings for /c/ and giving some tips about how to identify the correct one. What functional skills learners have on their side is that if they have been exposed to print their recognition memory may suggest to them when something ‘looks right’ a strategy we all use when spelling words that we find tricky.

[FE_News; Exeter,_UK; 2019-10-31]

Spelling Bee competition

Green Land Convent School, Sector 32, Chandigarh Road, organised a 'Spelling Bee Competition' with an aim to awaken excellence, promote values and provide an opportunity for students to meet and compete with their peers in an atmosphere of fun and friendship.

[Tribune,_The; Chandigarh,_IN; 2019-10-31]

Multi-talented students head to national Spelling Bee Final

Eighteen students from Kerikeri to Dunedin will battle it out for the coveted title of 2019 New Zealand Spelling Bee champion at the national final in Wellington on Saturday, including three students who competed in the 2018 final and are back for another attempt.

[Scoop; Wellington,_NZ; 2019-10-30]

A $1bn spell-checker is no match for a skilled proofreader

Donald Trump’s proclivity for typos has look of predictive text gone wrong.

A press release from the White House administration earlier that month had affirmed that the goals of the president’s trip to Israel were to promote a “lasting peach” (sic) in the region. Referring to his recent visit to the UK last July, Trump noted that he had met with the Prince of “Whales” (sic), among other dignitaries. Just last week, he tweeted that his secretary of defence “Mark Esperanto” (sic) had reported favourably on the fragile ceasefire between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds. His name is actually Mark Esper.

[Irish_Times,_The; Dublin,_IE; 2019-10-30]

MP with dyslexia hits back at 'spelling police'

Labour MP Peter Kyle has asked social media users who call him "thick" over his writing mistakes to go easy on him as he is "living with acute dyslexia".

Mr Kyle, 49, explained that his learning difficulty meant it sometimes felt as if his eyes were not properly connected to his brain. "Sometimes words are just shapes," he wrote. "However much I try to engage my brain, the connection just isn't there. I can see the shape but it simply has no meaning. Frustrating, huh." The MP described how his dyslexia caused him embarrassment at school, where he was forced to read Shakespeare aloud to the class "one painful word at a time".

[BBC; London,_UK; 2019-10-28]

Understanding The Doughnut vs. Donut Debate

Our verdict is that the correct spelling of doughnut vs donut depends on which doughnut shop you're in. Dunkin', of course, goes with donut, while Krispy Kreme prefers the doughnut spelling.

[Wide_Open_Eats; Austin,_TX,_US; 2019-10-23]

Spelling war erupts on the Red Line

One of the legions of prescriptivist spelling nerds who have long harshly (if normally quietly) judged Planet Fitness for their "judgement free" zone finally couldn't take it anymore and took pen to health-club ad on the Red Line - only to be countered by one of the legions of descriptivist gadabouts who tells him to chill, as Michael, who appreciates "some good old fashioned pedantry," shows us.

[Universal_Hub; Boston,_MA,_US; 2019-10-22]

Many paths to reading

Preschoolers happily absorbing anything and everything - and it's a great time to get them interested in reading, writes parenting columnist Ian Munro.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the importance of youngsters getting an early start with their reading. They're more likely to become lifetime readers and not struggle with their reading later. Besides books, there are lots of other varied and interesting ways that you can use to further develop their reading skills. Here are some recommended by reading specialists for getting that early start at a time when preschoolers are happily absorbing anything and everything.

[Otago_Daily_Times; Dunedin,_NZ; 2019-10-21]

Kyiv not Kiev: Why spelling matters in Ukraine’s quest for an independent identity

Ukraine’s desire for the outside world to use Ukrainian-language transliterations appears anything but trivial. On the contrary, it is a plea for symbolic support in what is one of world history’s last great independence struggles. Ukraine’s nation-building journey is far from over, but establishing Ukrainian names for Ukrainian places is an essential early step on the long road to recovery. The international media’s ongoing adoption of the preferred “Kyiv” spelling may seem inconsequential, but it represents a meaningful contribution to this process.

[Atlantic_Council; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-10-21]

Trump’s bad spelling isn’t the problem; it’s that he’s too lazy to care

[Koss] compares poor spelling to being fat or being bad at sports. Maybe we don’t disparage uncoordinated people in regular life, but we sure wouldn’t hire a poor athlete to be the quarterback of a pro football team. And if someone did, we should all be free to point out that he’s slow and unfit for the job without worrying about whether it’s “shaming.”

[Los_Angeles_Times; Los_Angeles,_CA,_US; 2019-10-20]

“La Traviata,” “like a bird on the wire”

Driving up to the opera Friday evening after a fairly unpleasant day spent on such absorbing matters as flu vaccinations and the sudden and complete failure of our 4.5-year-old refrigerator, I found myself thinking, as I surprisingly often do, of the oddities of English spelling.

[Patheos; Englewood,_CO,_US; 2019-10-19]

So what if President Trump can’t spell?

Inability to spell is as irrelevant as hand size in terms of the harm he’s doing the nation.

It’s possible that a lot of good and great leaders were bad spellers. Until Trump bypassed aides, Cabinet members, generals and agency staff to tweet out American policy all by himself in his pajamas, we weren’t treated to a lot of presidential proclamations that hadn’t been proofread. Winston Churchill and George Washington are on “bad speller” lists on the internet.

[Los_Angeles_Times; Los_Angeles,_CA,_US; 2019-10-16]

Do you spell it ‘theater’ or ‘theatre’? Who cares? Just go and see a show.

In 2012, New York arts writer Howard Sherman called the spelling quandary “the most useless argument in theatrical history.” With tongue in cheek, he suggested a solution: theatr.

[Washington_Post,_The; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-10-15]

Travelled vs. Traveled: Which Is Correct?

Writing that out-of-office email and trying to decide on the correct spelling of traveling vs. travelling? Here's when to use a double "l."

“Traveled” and “travelled” mean the same thing and neither is strictly speaking “correct” or “incorrect. The correct American English spelling is “traveled,” while the correct British English spelling is “travelled.” So it’s not a battle of travelled vs traveled but rather a question of who will be reading your email. As the purpose of writing is to communicate clearly to your audience, choose the spelling appropriate to the location of your audience.

[Reader's_Digest; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-10-15]

Bracknell Forest children with English as mother tongue lag behind classmates in reading test

CHILDREN in Bracknell with English as a mother tongue are falling behind their classmates in reading tests, figures reveal.

Of the 1,213 Year 1 children in Bracknell Forest with English as their mother tongue, 84.6 per cent passed their test 2019. Meanwhile, the 206 whose first language is not English had a pass rate of 87.9 per cent.

[Bracknell_News; Reading,_UK; 2019-10-11]

Finding upends theory about the cerebellum's role in reading and dyslexia

New brain imaging research debunks a controversial theory about dyslexia that can impact how it is sometimes treated. The cerebellum, a brain structure traditionally considered to be involved in motor function, has been implicated in the reading disability, developmental dyslexia, however, this 'cerebellar deficit hypothesis' has always been controversial. The new research shows that the cerebellum is not engaged during reading in typical readers and does not differ in children who have dyslexia.

[ScienceDaily; Rockville,_MD,_US; 2019-10-09]


App endgame: Detect dyslexia earlier

Dyslexia makes reading a struggle for millions of people, but the learning disability is rarely diagnosed before age seven.

One of the reasons dyslexia takes so long to identify in children in the U.S. is that English has a complex orthography. That is, the rules of spelling and representing sounds in English are not straightforward. Other countries that speak languages with simpler orthographies identify dyslexia at earlier ages. It takes English speaking children years to learn to read and at least a couple of years for the educational system to show that a child is significantly lagging his or her peers in reading. It's called the "wait to fail" model, and it causes many children's dyslexia to not be diagnosed until ages 8 to 10, so that they lose a significant amount of educational time.

[Phys_Org; Douglas,_UK; 2019-10-08]

Why we should teach spelling patterns to pre-readers

If we teach spelling patterns to children at an early age, studies suggest a benefit vocabulary acquisition.

When we tested this idea during my PhD, we found that children did indeed learn vocabulary items more readily when they were taught with their spelling patterns, work that is summarised on our website. We call this strategy “orthographic facilitation”, as having access to the orthography, or printed form, of a word seems to facilitate vocabulary learning.

[TES; London,_UK; 2019-10-06]

Reading, writing and readability—appreciating Rudolph Flesch

This October marks the thirty-third anniversary of the passing of Rudolph Flesch, the patron saint of brevity. Born in 1911, Flesch was an Austrian lawyer who fled the Nazis in 1938, finding his way to New York City. There he completed a PhD in library science at Columbia University, studying the factors that make a text easy or difficult to read.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2019-10-06]

How does phonics work for Papua New Guineans?

Phonics was developed for children in English-speaking countries and works on the assumption that the children already speak English. This means that phonics books use vocabulary that children who grow up with English already know. More importantly, it assumes that they and their teachers have an unconscious knowledge of the sounds of English and just need to map those sounds on the spelling system.

[National,_The_(PG); Port_Moresby,_PG; 2019-10-04]

The Inuit agree on a common writing system

A boost to a threatened language group.

[subscription] The 47,000 Inuit who live in Canada’s Arctic speak five dialects of Inuktut and use nine writing systems. The dialects are similar enough that an Inuk from one group can puzzle out what a speaker from another is saying. The writing systems, invented by Christian missionaries starting in the 18th century, are bigger barriers to comprehension. Three use syllabics—characters to represent syllables—rather than the roman alphabet. Both systems can be supplemented with diacritical marks that modify pronunciation and meaning. Communication is difficult and translating textbooks and government documents expensive.

[Economist,_The; London,_UK; 2019-10-03]

English Department of Stamford organises Spelling Contest 2019

SELF (Stamford English Language Forum) organised a spelling contest in the Department of English, Stamford University Bangladesh. The final round followed by the prize giving ceremony was held on September 17, 2019 at its Siddheswari campus auditorium.

[Daily_Star,_The; Dhaka,_BD; 2019-10-03]

They say 'ain't' ain't a word!

When we went to school, the teachers would show us that we ain't supposed to say "ain't," we're supposed to say "isn't" and "aren't." Rather than saying "That ain't fair!," we should say "That isn't fair!" Or, instead of saying, "Them thaings ain't no good!" we should say "Those things are no good!" So, life became a bit more complicated.

[Pea_Ridge_Times; Pea_Ridge,_AR,_US; 2019-10-02]

The Cheshire towns and villages with names that non-locals always pronounce wrong

There are a few tongue twisters in our county.

A team of linguists last week named Frome in Somerset the most difficult to pronounce town in the UK, with Ynysybwl, Cwn Clyndach in Wales, Woolfardisworthy in Devon and Rampisham in Dorset coming up behind it.

[Cheshire_Live; Chester,_UK; 2019-09-30]

Frome tops list of most difficult to pronounce place names in the UK

A market town in Somerset has topped a list of the 10 most difficult-to-pronounce place names in the UK. Frome is the most mispronounced town in England, according to a team of linguists behind a language learning app. Ballachulish in Scotland, Beaulieu in Hampshire and Woolfardisworthy in Devon also made the top 10. The list's makers said British English was "famous for some of the most confusing pronunciations on earth".

[BBC; London,_UK; 2019-09-24]

How Can You Appreciate 23rd-Century English? Look Back 200 Years

We should stop worrying that kids these days refuse to say “no worries” in response to “thank you.”

When you think of communication back in the early 21st century, you probably think of it as the beginnings of the modern phone. But you may not realize that it’s also the origin point for many words and linguistic constructions that we’re still using now, 200 years later. I’ve been using the records at the Internet Archive to research the English of this fascinating historical era, and my research has led me to believe that we should take a more relaxed and curious attitude toward our own language changes in the 23rd century.

[New_York_Times,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-09-23]

15 Fascinating Facts About Dictionaries That Will Make You Want to Pick One Up

From dropped words to fake definitions, learn fun facts, hearsay, and scandal about our most useful language resource, and the words that make it up.

The earliest single-language dictionary in the English language was known as the “Table Alphabeticall.” Produced by a man named Robert Cawdrey in 1604, it contained around 3,000 words. It didn’t give “definitions” so much as synonyms; the author’s purpose, he wrote, was to introduce more complicated words to “ladies, gentlewomen, or any other unskillful persons,” so they could better understand scriptures and sermons.

[Reader's_Digest; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-09-21]

Madhya Pradesh switches to English alphabet for local body polls

Hindi matras (signs) lead to “a lot of difficulty”, says State Election Commission

An internal note of the Commission explained that during elections in the past, it observed that certain returning officers had faced “a lot of difficulty” with Hindi in the Devanagari script. “Since Hindi alphabets are difficult, names of candidates are arranged wrongly alphabetically and they are allocated wrong symbols,” says the note.

[Hindu,_The; Madras,_IN; 2019-09-20]

Parents play a key role in fostering children’s love of reading

Reading books with your child means children learn to connect reading with feelings of warmth and sharing.

Preschoolers benefit from having books read to them. When parents read to children, it helps build children’s vocabulary and expands conversations. You can start with short picture books like Goodnight Moon and move onto longer picture books like Where the Wild Things Are or Corduroy.

[Conversation,_The; London,_UK; 2019-09-19]

Non-Native Speakers Share The Weirdest Things About The English Language

Read and lead rhyme and so do read and lead, but read and lead don't rhyme and neither do read and lead.

[Comic_Sands; Los_Angeles,_CA,_US; 2019-09-18]

Gr8 lingo, spelling howlers stump teachers

According to NK Jha, Patna University’s dean of students’ welfare, out of 100 applications received on Wednesday from both undergraduate and postgraduate students, 62 were riddled with errors. “It’s a pity that many students can’t write the correct spelling of dean of students’ welfare and spell it as ‘Din of student welfr’,” said Jha, adding, on an average around 50 % students could not spell vice chancellor and wrote “Voice Chanslr”.

[Times_of_India,_The; Mumbai,_IN; 2019-09-14]

North Bay book unravels mysteries of English spelling

Often the reason for the spellings is purely historical.

Trevor Schindeler, a retired professor at Canadore College, has spent years putting together his book English Spelling, A Reference Guide.   The problem with most books about English spelling is that they don’t actually teach you about English spelling. Most, according to Trevor Schindeler, are about how to teach spelling. “Different books mention different things,” such as the double-letter principle or the silent “e” at the end of certain words. “There are bits and pieces all over,” Schindeler says, “but no one put them all together.” Until now, that is.

[North_Bay_Nugget; North_Bay,_ON,_CA; 2019-09-12]

Spelling tips for journalists

NO ONE CAN DEVELOP WORD POWER without the ability to spell, for mis-spelling is the ultimate misuse of words. Good spelling is primarily a matter of observing and remembering. Below are 80 words which are frequently misspelled.

[Media_Helping_Media; Stockholm,_SE; 2019-09-10]

LiteracyPlanet announces adaptive learning enhancements to its award-winning online English platform

LiteracyPlanet is known for its comprehensive, engaging and effective online literacy program that is used by more than two million students in over 100 countries. LiteracyPlanet is used by more than 1 million students in over 70 countries. The comprehensive online English literacy platform covers phonics, sight words, spelling, reading, comprehension, grammar and writing strands and is aligned to 65 curriculums globally.

[Yahoo; Sunnyvale,_CA,_US; 2019-09-10]

The woeful spelling all around us in Gloucestershire (businesses and council chiefs, get ready to be embarrassed)

The lack of apostrophes is the main issue in Cheltenham, Gloucester and beyond.

It seems that knowing when and when not to use an apostrophe confuses many business owners and council sign writers. Or perhaps they have deliberately left it out, deciding their signs are better off without it.

[Gloucestershire_Live; Gloucester,_UK; 2019-09-08]

Why Scammers Make Spelling and Grammar “Mistakes”

I am frequently asked why phishing emails and other scam messages often contain spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. “Haven’t scammers learned by now how to write in proper English?” the question often goes. The answer is simple – those “errors” are not mistakes; they are intentionally included by design.

[Joseph_Steinberg; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-09-01]

How is British English different from other variants of English?

The English language got its name from “Angles”, a Germanic tribe that had migrated to Great Britain. People in early medieval England first started using English, a language whose vocabulary is dominantly influenced by other Germanic languages. As civilisations evolved, many variants of the English language also came to the fore. While British English is the authentic form of the language, other variants such as American English and Canadian English are also widely spoken in the present-day world.

[London_Loves_Business; London,_UK; 2019-09-01]

Trump’s Twitter War on Spelling

The president’s supporters don’t mind his linguistic slips, but lexicographers and grammarians worry about the permanent effect on language.

At a time when nerves are stretched to the point of snapping and every political issue seems to verge on the apocalyptic — climate change; immigration; gun violence; race relations; what the president said or claimed to say or did not say about China — it might seem needlessly picayune to dwell on the writing style of the occupant of the White House.

[New_York_Times,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-08-31]

Attention schools: It’s time to sign up for the Central NY spelling bee

Registration is open for the regional spelling bee for Central New York schools with students in grades 4 to 8.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

[Syracuse; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-08-30]

Closing books, libraries and minds

English is a mongrel language but without the stories that can be woven from it, how do we know how to live?

There is, as we speak, a child sitting in a classroom losing interest. Because he or she doesn’t get it; because there’s no-one to help him or her spell out the words; because we think it’s somehow smart to close libraries and turn them into virtual learning centres.

[InDaily; Adelaide,_SA,_AU; 2019-08-28]

Dyslexia, the Leaving Cert and Irish

Some students with dyslexia in secondary school who have an exemption from Irish choose to take up another language such as Spanish or German. This is related to the fact that Spanish and German have regular or transparent orthographies which make them easier for someone with dyslexia to read, write and spell.

[Irish_Times,_The; Dublin,_IE; 2019-08-28]

Texas Fil-Am, 8, is National Spanish Spelling Bee champ

National Spanish Spelling Bee champ Kirsten Santos, 8, also speaks English, Tagalog and Mandarin.

For a month, Kirsten Santos studied her Spanish dictionary for two hours every day, learning how to spell more than 60,000 words.

[Inquirer; Makati,_PH; 2019-08-28]

'Reading wars' are futile

The Ministry of Education is keen to avoid a phonics versus whole language debate.

The request for proposals (RFP) to update the Ready to Read series makes it clear the Ministry of Education is also not keen for anything which fuels a phonics versus whole language debate, sometimes called the Reading Wars.

[Otago_Daily_Times; Dunedin,_NZ; 2019-08-26]

People do grammar bad. Google’s AI is hear too help.

Grammar is dead. Long live grammar-check?

While some education experts applaud the advancement of high-tech grammar tools as a way to help people more clearly express their thoughts, others aren’t so sure. Artificial intelligence, according to the contrarians, is only as smart as the humans who program it, and often just as biased.

[Washington_Post,_The; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-08-26]

The Dictionary Wars — a veritable war of words

The story of the battle over America’s first dictionaries brings to life all its combatants.

The great lexicographer Samuel Johnson said he loved all mankind except Americans, whom he called rascals, robbers and pirates. As for their dialect, the English they spoke revealed the “corruption to which every language widely diffused must always be exposed”.

[Financial_Times; London,_UK; 2019-08-23]

Maximiliano Hultsch Martinez brings National Spanish Spelling Bee title to Deming

Martinez’s last and winning word was the Spanish word “estrucioniforme” meaning a bird of the biological order of (struthioniformes), a diverse group of large flightless birds, like the emu, kiwi and ostrich.

[USA_Today; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-08-20]

Watch how much choc you eat, you might get die of beaties

There are people who display good English skills, but to a quite astonishing degree the internet is filled with idiots spouting gibberish. And the angrier these people become, the worse their English seems to get. Or perhaps it’s the other way about — those with deplorable grammar and spelling get angrier about things more often. I have collected some of the more ludicrous for your amusement.

[Courier,_The; Dundee,_UK; 2019-08-19]

Si doi gak ming: Hong Kong protesters ‘spell out’ their message in effort to foil mainland Chinese trolls and ‘spies’

Hong Kong protesters have shared new posters to promote their cause featuring phonetically spelt Cantonese words. The stunt is aimed at deterring online trolls and people accused of being spies from mainland China – both of whom may have difficulty understanding the messages in roman characters instead of Chinese characters. Cantonese is mainly used in Hong Kong, whilst Mandarin is standard on the mainland – they share a written script but differ phonetically.

[Hong_Kong_Free_Press; Aberdeeen,_HK; 2019-08-18]

'Students don't see the value': why A-level English is in decline

Emphasis on Stem subjects and dull GCSE course blamed for fewer pupils taking exam.

“In these times of austerity, students are being constantly bombarded with the notion that if they are going to go to university and spend £9,000 annually on a degree, they need to study something which is going to make them money. The rhetoric is that English is indulgent and arty but not something that can support you financially, in comparison to a subject like maths or economics.”

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-08-16]

Why it’s time to stop worrying about the decline of the English language

People often complain that English is deteriorating under the influence of new technology, adolescent fads and loose grammar. Why does this nonsensical belief persist?

Linguistic decline is the cultural equivalent of the boy who cried wolf, except the wolf never turns up. Perhaps this is why, even though the idea that language is going to the dogs is widespread, nothing much has been done to mitigate it: it’s a powerful intuition, but the evidence of its effects has simply never materialised. That is because it is unscientific nonsense.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-08-15]

Te reo Māori is simple in comparison to English

RNZ journalist Te Aniwa Hurihanganui was about to catch a plane home from Auckland when an Air New Zealand worker saw her name on her passport and asked, how on earth did you spell that as a kid? As she explains, it wasn't the first time.

I don't actually remember learning how to spell my name, but I do remember the language coming quite easily to me and the other kids at kura. We learned the entire Māori alphabet in a day; 15 letters in total, two of which are digraphs. There was no need for spelling tests because once you learn the basic principles of te reo, they never change. There are no surprises like silent letters, or foreign words that derive from other languages. By the time I was age 10, I not only knew how to spell my name, I could spell any word in the Māori language so long as I heard it correctly.

[Radio_NZ; Wellington,_NZ; 2019-08-08]

Learning English is already a misspelling minefield without using programs that will confuse children

It’s important that our children know of different spelling between countries – but their minds are already full of a thousand rules and exceptions. Give them a break, writes Kara Jung.


[Advertiser,_The; Adelaide,_SA,_AU; 2019-08-05]

The internet has changed the way we talk. In Because Internet, a linguist shows us how

Gretchen McCulloch uncovers the secret rules behind keyboard smashes and what we mean when we say “lol.”

Americans have been using z’s at the end of words like “organize” and “realize” for centuries. For a long time, however, Brits used both z’s and s’s, so that in the UK, both “organize” and “organise” were correct. But then spellcheck came along and demanded standardized spelling, and made -ise endings the default in their British English settings. And that, writes McCullock, is what led “to an upswing in -ise endings among the general British typing public and the perception that -ize is only for Americans.”

[Vox; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-08-02]

Johnson & Johnson: How Samuel shaped Boris

It’s not just that our new PM admires the writer’s essays and poetry – the influence goes far deeper.

To understand Boris Johnson, you have to understand the figure who has inspired him, shaped his worldview and accompanied him throughout his career. Admittedly Samuel Johnson has been dead since 1784, but his importance to Boris is unquestionable.

[Spectator,_The; London,_UK; 2019-07-27]

Russian is way easier than you think!

Adults in Russia are expected to write with zero spelling errors, because spelling is so damn easy when you use Cyrillic! Each of the letters make one clear sound - not like in English where, even when used in the same word multiple times, the letter “A” can make all sorts of sounds, like in the words “Amanda” or “Antarctica”.

[Russia_Beyond; Moscow,_RU; 2019-07-26]

How phonics took over English schools

And why it benefited poor children most of all.

[subscription] A little knowledge is a dangerous thing – especially when it comes to spelling. The English word most commonly misspelt in published documents and on the internet is supersede, an analysis by lexicographers has found. But it is not pure ig

[Economist,_The; London,_UK; 2019-07-18]

Are emojis ruining the English language?

Fans say they are creating a 'richer form of online communication.'

Lauren Gawne, a research fellow at La Trobe University in Australia, argues that emojis are not ruining language. In an article for The Conversation, she says that they are a natural substitute for gesture. She explains that there are "far more similarities between emojis and gesture, than there are between emojis and grammar".

[Plymouth_Live; Plymouth,_UK; 2019-07-17]

MTN sponsors first ever Lagos State Private Schools Spelling Bee competition

In a bid to satisfy the yearning for improved English grammar skills in the youth educational sector of Nigeria, MTN Nigeria through its tween and teen proposition, mPulse is sponsoring the first ever private school leg of the Lagos State Spelling Bee competition. From Monday, June 10, 2019, the first batch of the intra-school competition began across 70 private schools in Lagos State, with the second batch of the competition slated for October, this year.

[Nation,_The; Lagos,_NG; 2019-07-13]

Maths and spelling tests for trainee teachers 'will be scrapped in an attempt to boost numbers of staff'

Currently trainees must pass national tests before being qualifying as teachers.

Standard maths and English tests for trainee teachers are set to be scrapped. The move is aimed at boosting recruitment – but seems certain to spark fears of dumbing down. However, training providers have long called for the tests to be scrapped. They say they already work with trainees to fill in any gaps in knowledge.

[Mail_Online; London,_UK; 2019-07-12]

Advising Others to Take Your Advice

This week, we answer a question from Ali in Iran.

The noun form of the word, “advice,” is written with the letter c, which is said like /s/. But the verb “advise” is written with the letter s, which is pronounced like /z/. If you hold your hand to your throat, you will find that it vibrates, moving from side to side, when you say the /z/ sound.

[Voice_of_America; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-07-12]

It Might Be Time to Update the Old ‘Alfa-Bravo-Charlie’ Spelling Alphabet

But it’s hard to break old habits.

The history of spelling alphabets is fascinating and winding, but it’s notable that there hasn’t been an official update to the most commonly used English version in about half a century. We might be in need of one. As mobile phones have replaced landlines, call quality has, strangely, gone down. The general connectivity of the world—including the ease of international video calls and the use of foreign call centers—means that spelling out a name or word is an increasingly common practice.

[Atlas_Obscura; Brooklyn,_NY,_US; 2019-07-12]

From rabbits to gonorrhea: “clap” and its kin

Three years ago, I discussed the origin of several kl– formations, all of which were sound-symbolic: kl- appeared to suggest cleaving, cluttering, and the like. In this context, especially revealing is the etymology of cloth (see the posts for June 29, 2016 and August 10, 2016). The problem with such consonant groups is that there is rarely anything intrinsically symbolic in them. Why should kl- suggest clinging and clustering, rather than cloying or clobbering? Actually, it does both. In this hunt, one never knows where to stop, and researchers are often carried away by the tempting similarity of numerous words that may or may not have anything in common.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2019-07-10]

They want to end this toxic testing'- Teachers pushing for tests for 11-year-olds to be scrapped

Teachers in Norfolk think SATs for 10 and 11-year-olds need to be scrapped and replaced with a new system which is less stressful for pupils and teachers.

Jonathan Rice, headteacher at Caister Junior School, believes SATs have narrowed the curriculum over the past 20 years and caused schools to exclude other subjects to focus on maths and English. "That's not what primary education should be about. I heard of a school in London this week where the year six children had not had a PE lesson since last autumn," he said. "Ofsted are now having to insist schools provide a broad and balanced curriculum, but this is addressing a problem which SATs created.

[Eastern_Daily_Press; Norwich,_UK; 2019-07-10]

TV firm looking for adults who can't read for new documentary

Do you know someone who would like to learn to read or write?

Kerry Fanneran, Casting Producer for Shine TV, said: "Today, English teenagers are the most illiterate in the developed world with 20% of school leavers lacking the literacy skills necessary for coping with most jobs and many everyday situations. "This is worse than every generation before them in living memory. "But what these figures don’t reveal are the millions living with crushed confidence from the shame of their illiteracy.

[Huddersfield_Examiner; Huddersfield,_UK; 2019-07-10]

Why your child's Sats matter – and why they don’t

Are Sats a good way to assess progress in reading and maths or too much pressure on young children?

Sats results are published today. But with everyone from the National Education Union to the Labour Party campaigning against them, do they really matter?

[Telegraph,_The; London,_UK; 2019-07-09]

Māori loanwords enrich Twitter

How many basic Māori words do you know the meaning of?

Māori words and phrases such as haka, Pākehā, kia ora, kai moana, and kia kaha have made their way into English and Twitter is probably accelerating their use, suggests a study by computer science and linguistics researchers mostly at the University of Waikato.

[Stuff; Wellington,_NZ; 2019-07-08]

Why Ukraine is changing the spelling of its capital

If you're an avid reader of The World and follow Ukraine news, you may have noticed a shift in the way we refer to Ukraine's capital. Early this year, The World newsroom adopted the Ukrainian transliteration of the city — Kyiv — replacing the Russian-derived Kiev, a longtime standard of international news media. This week, the United States Board on Geographic Names followed suit, following a decade-long push by the Ukrainian government to popularize the Ukrainian spelling.

[Week,_The; Tampa,_FL,_US; 2019-07-07]

Ambitious Derby girl spells her way to podium in national competition

Her dad said he was over the moon.

A clever Derby schoolgirl has brought home a national award for her spelling and Spanish translation skills. Louisa Brickman, 12, from Heatherton Village, placed second in the Spelling Bee competition at Cambridge University. The Derby Cathedral School pupil beat 100,000 other Year 7s to make it to the final.

[Derbyshire_Live; Derby,_UK; 2019-07-07]

Dyslexia and the English Learner Dilemma

Kelli Sandman-Hurley recommends using the mother tongue to diagnose dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a phonological processing problem that is neurobiological and makes it difficult to decode words accurately and fluently, as well as making spelling very difficult. Dyslexia is highly genetic and occurs on a continuum from mild to severe. People with dyslexia have the ability to learn to read, they just need to be taught the way they learn, and they require accommodations to succeed via other learning modalities, such as the audio presentation of information.

[Language_Magazine; Malibu,_CA,_US; 2019-07-06]

The Magic of Language: Stephen Fry, Pedantry, and Racism

Fry, and his mellifluous voice, discussed language and pedantry. Essentially, Fry’s point was that we should not get caught up in the minutia of language, correcting the grammatical glitches we see in public, in the use of our friends, online, etc. Rather, says Fry, we should exult in language, take delight in the feel of the words in our mouths.

[Patheos; Concord,_NH,_US; 2019-07-05]

How can I help my students with spelling and writing difficulties?

English is a particularly difficult language to write and read. Many languages use a spelling system where there is one—and only one—letter for each sound. Once you have worked out that system, you can correctly write any word you hear and correctly pronounce any word you read. In schools using languages with this kind of alphabet, children do not need spelling lessons or spelling tests after first or second grade. In fact, many children can learn to read and write at home with their parents.

[National,_The_(PG); Port_Moresby,_PG; 2019-07-05]

Etymology gleanings for June 2019

The bitter honey of Spelling Bee.

What a fertile field for wasting one’s brains and time!

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2019-07-03]

Noah Webster's Dictionary Wars

In the United States, the name Noah Webster (1758-1843) is synonymous with the word "dictionary."

Overall, his dictionary was prescriptive rather than descriptive, a violation, if you will, of a central tenet of lexicography that holds that dictionaries should record the way language is used, not the way the lexicographer thinks it should be used.

[Beachwood_Reporter,_The; Chicago,_IL,_US; 2019-07-02]

Clean sweep for girls at national Hebrew spelling bee

New competition attracts growing entry from Jewish schools.

“I know that you have been working very hard for the last few months practising spelling of 120 words,” she told the finalists, “but I also hope that this has been an enjoyable learning experience and I am sure it helped not only your spelling but your memory skills, vocabulary and pronunciation.”

[Jewish_Chronicle,_The; London,_UK; 2019-07-01]

Delighted you failed your English exam, son. I’ll always have a job as long as you can’t spell

[subscribe] The kidz can’t be bothered to write proper no more. So says a report last week that suggested increasing numbers of children are failing their GCSE English exams because they are writing in “slanglish”. If your immediate response is “OMG ikr” — “Oh, my God! I know, right?” — then it is, I’m afraid, too late for you.

[Times,_The; London,_UK; 2019-06-30]

China is waging war on Western names for buildings and places

It wants to put a stop to “worship of foreign things.”

[subscribe] China’s southernmost province of Hainan is a tropical tourist-magnet of white-sand beaches, mountains and rainforests. Posh resorts line the island’s shore. It is also on the front lines of a culture war. In June Hainan’s government published a list of 53 places and buildings, including many hotels, with names that “worship foreign things and toady to foreign powers”. It said these names must be “cleaned up and rectified”—ie, changed.

[Economist,_The; London,_UK; 2019-06-27]

Spelling bee competition to be aired on KTN

The Kenya National Spelling Bee (KNSB) competition is set to commence on your favourite leading TV channel KTN.

The overall winner of the competition will be awarded Sh500,000 and a laptop. A Sh50,000 award will be presented to the winner's English teacher while their school will win a 26-seater bus.

[Standard_Media; Nairobi,_KE; 2019-06-26]

Same name, different meaning

The English language is fraught with conundrums. It’s probably why I love it so much. It’s never boring and continually keeps me learning (or guessing – or both). One of these complexities has to do with words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings – our good friend, the homonym. When it comes to homonyms you get two for the price of one-two types of homonyms, that is. Sometimes they are spelled the same, pronounced the same, but have different meanings: The river bank is next to the bank where I have my savings account.

[Daily_Journal,_The; Fergus_Falls,_MN,_US; 2019-06-25]

John Cleese slammed on Twitter over bizarre comments 'mocking' the Irish language

JOHN CLEESE has once again found himself in hot water on Twitter after making misjudged comments about the Irish language.

Cleese, 79, wrote: "I love your use of words! But, seriously, if an Irish 'bh' is a 'v' sound, why don't you write it with a 'v'? Of course, Bernard Shaw pointed out that in English, the word 'Fish' could be spelled G-H-O-T-I".

[Irish_Post,_The; London,_UK; 2019-06-24]

Five quick tricks for teaching homophones

It’s not just Donald Trump who has spelling problems – we must help pupils to master homophones, too.

When Donald Trump recently confused Wales and whales in a tweet, the reaction was extraordinary: a sea of memes washed over the internet, featuring sea creatures in crowns and the Welsh dragon replaced with a red whale.

[TES; London,_UK; 2019-06-24]

10 Differences between UK & US English

The differences between UK and US English can be broken down into 3 categories – Spelling differences (where the same word is spelled differently in both languages), Vocabulary differences (where both languages use different terms for the same thing) and Grammatical differences (where the Grammatical Structure between both languages differs ).

[Yahoo; Sunnyvale,_CA,_US; 2019-06-24]

Very valuable varying vowels

When it comes to this aspect of language, it's not as straightforward as aeiou.

Most people with accents from the south east of England have 19 different vowel sounds in their spoken English. These are the different vowels in words such as pitpetpatputputtpotbeebaybuyboybootboatboutpeerpairpurrpar, and paw, plus the vowel in the first syllable of about.

[New_European,_The; Norwich,_UK; 2019-06-21]

Is ‘slanglish’ to blame for GCSE English failures?

New research shows that some pupils in the UK are failing their English language exams due to their use of slang terms.

According to TutorHouse.co.uk, students in the UK are failing their English language GCSE because they’re using slang terminology in exams. TutorHouse has warned that slanglish could become an epidemic if it continues to impact GCSE English Language, which is a required qualification for all students leaving education.

[Education_Executive; London,_UK; 2019-06-20]

And you thought World War Z was a zombie movie . . .

Our argument is over the letter Z in words like organization, analyze, realize and finalize. Except those aren’t proper words, they are misguided attempts to spell organisation, analyse, realise and finalise. There are around 200 English language verbs affected by this.

[Courier,_The; Dundee,_UK; 2019-06-17]

Language wars: the 19 greatest linguistic spats of all time

Words are ever evolving – but not without controversy. From creative applications of an apostrophe to the overuse of literally, what makes you rage?

What is it about language that gets people so hot under the collar? That drives them to spend hours arguing with strangers on the internet, to go around correcting misspelt signs in the dead of night, or even to threaten acts of violence?

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-06-17]

Simple spelling may be more relevant than ever

Noah Webster’s spelling reforms turned “centre” into “center” and “labour” into “labor”. Some people are pushing for wider adoption of simpler versions of English spellings.

Are you okay/ok with spelling shortcuts? If not, ur 100s of years 2 l8. The complexity of English spellings has been bothering people for nearly as long as English has been written down. They argue that inconsistent spellings make English unnecessarily hard to learn.

[BBC; London,_UK; 2019-06-14]

Language-savvy parents improve their children's reading development, study shows

The researchers found that adults with higher reading-related knowledge are likelier to provide positive feedback, which helps the learning process.

Parents with higher reading-related knowledge are not only more likely to have children with higher reading scores but are also more attentive when those children read out loud to them.

[ScienceDaily; Rockville,_MD,_US; 2019-06-14]

Brexit is the ideal moment to make English the EU’s common language

It will be a neutral lingua franca

[subscription] FOR MOST of its life, the European Union had three main languages. German was its leading mother tongue. French was the preferred register of Brussels diplomacy. English was a widely used second language. But in recent years the rise of the internet and the accession of central and eastern European states have made English dominant. Today over 80% of the European Commission’s documents are written first in that language, then translated into the EU’s remaining 23 official tongues.

[Economist,_The; London,_UK; 2019-06-13]

Minority Kids’ Spelling Bee Dominance Proves Racism Is Far Less Important Than Work Ethic

South Asian-Americans' spelling bee achievement exemplifies our country's strengths. We are a meritocratic society where all people can be successful if they put their minds to it.

There is no question that these kids work hard. Rishik Gandhasri, one of the eight co-champions, said in an interview that he spent between one and four hours each day on learning new words, in addition to his homework and various after-school activities such as swimming and piano lessons. Akash Vukoti, who qualified for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2016 when he was only six years old, spent between one and five hours each day on learning new words.

[Federalist,_The; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-06-11]

Americans and Brits Have Been Fighting Over the English Language for Centuries. Here’s How It Started

The British and Americans have never gotten along very well where the English language is concerned. British mockery and indignation over what Americans were doing with and to the language began long before Independence, but after that it blossomed into a fully-fledged, ill-spirited, relentless attack that is still going on today. The conservative British politician and Brexit supporter Jacob Rees-Mogg, for example, has been defended as “one who dares to eschew the current, Americanized, mode of behaviour, speech, and dress.”

[Time; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-06-11]

How I Taught My Kid to Read

Children can learn quickly by sounding out words, letter by letter—but somehow, the method is still controversial.

The approach that proved most effective was based on phonics—teaching children how to sound words out, letter by letter, rather than encouraging students to recognize words as single chunks, also called the whole-word system.

[Atlantic,_The; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-06-06]

Etymology gleanings for May 2019: Part 2

Spelling bee and the shame of the sun: some thoughts on animated spellcheckers.

Once again, I have stumbled upon an upbeat report of the latest spelling bee, and shout in disgust: “J’accuse!” I accuse the establishment of promoting a harmful sport. Millions of Americans graduate from high school without having heard what the subjunctive mood or an impersonal sentence means. They have never been told that some languages have cases (the genitive, the dative, and so on). We implore college students to avoid the apostrophe in the possessive pronoun its, and they ask what possessive pronoun means.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2019-06-05]

In the future, will the English language be full of accented characters?

Here's something to think about as you sip your latté (or your piña colada) while listening to Beyoncé (or Mötley Crüe): Just how important to the English language are accented characters? And will they withstand the test of time?

[Week,_The; Tampa,_FL,_US; 2019-06-05]

Dyslexic helpline worker was unfairly dismissed after spelling errors denied him new role

Charity ordered to pay £28,000 after failing to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employee.

A dyslexic helpline worker was unfairly dismissed after his employer refused to allow him to move to answer queries via a new instant messaging platform, an employment tribunal has ruled.

[People_Management; London,_UK; 2019-06-04]

What is the Middle Voice?

We have probably all heard the terms “active voice” and “passive voice,” but did you know there is also a middle voice?

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2019-06-02]

The doctor of apostrophes and her cringe-inducing discoveries

When is a punctuation mark more than a wee slash on a screen or squiggle of a ballpoint pen? When it's the central focus of a 100,000-word doctoral thesis paying homage to the often misunderstood apostrophe.

"My immediate reaction was what everyone else's is, they laugh first. They think it's very funny then they say: 'Can you write a whole thesis on the apostrophe?' But it didn't take me long to realise that it was going to do exactly what I wanted, take me in to the history and linguistics as well as the actual use."

[Stuff; Wellington,_NZ; 2019-06-01]

Spelling Bees and Tiger Woods

Two new books point in such different directions regarding childhood, adolescence, and education in today’s America.

Shalini Shankar’s new book, Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal about Generation Z’s Path to Success, is an anthropologist’s look at the spelling-bee phenomenon as it has evolved in recent years. The focus of her article is the Scripps National Spelling Bee’s new practice of allowing parents to buy their progeny’s way into the prestigious competition, meaning that kids who don’t win at the regional level can still have a shot at the national championship—provided someone can fork over $1,500 plus travel costs and such. The other new (forthcoming) book, this one titled Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, is a well-documented argument against the kind of youthful single-mindedness displayed by those spelling-bee fanatics (and their fanatical parents). In his weekend article, “You Don’t Want a Child Prodigy,” author David Epstein contends that premature specialization isn’t the surest route to success and happiness.

[Education_Next; Cambridge,_MA,_US; 2019-05-31]

The pedants revolt: meet the Spanish teenagers who hunt down celebrity spelling errors

Celebrities in Spain would be well advised to brush up on their spelling and grammar — lest they find themselves hunted down by a class of teenage spell-checkers who are publicly calling out written mistakes found on social media. Actors, politicians, sports stars and TV personalities are all in the firing line of the Detectives of the ESO (ESO means secondary education), who have been gaining a reputation for pointing out mistakes.

[EuroNews; Lyon,_FR; 2019-05-30]

National Spelling Bee names EIGHT champions

Each win $50k, beating previous two-way in historic first, after the competition RAN OUT of words in epic three-hour long final

The eight co-champions spelled the final 47 words correctly, going through six consecutive perfect rounds. The eight spellers were all better than the dictionary and they were all better than anything the Scripps National Spelling Bee could throw at them.

[Mail_Online; London,_UK; 2019-05-30]

The Philosophy Behind the First American Dictionary

In 1789, Noah Webster called on the newly independent United States to claim its own national version of the English language.

For Webster, new nationhood provided unique opportunities for language reform—opportunities that would fade quickly, he warns, if not grabbed before America’s language, like Britain’s, deteriorated owing to homegrown “corruptions” such as regional dialects, affectation, nostalgia for English manners and customs, class divisions, and innumerable other evils.

[Atlantic,_The; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-05-28]

How to build a spelling bee champion

As a tutor, what makes the National Spelling Bee so fulfilling is that it represents the culmination of dozens of hours of study spent practicing these skills with my students

It’s impossible to memorize all 400,000-plus entries in the dictionary, and that’s not what the best spellers, the ones who make it to Thursday night’s nationally televised finals, try to do. The best spellers are analytical thinkers, language lovers who have mastered basic principles of linguistics. They learn hundreds of Greek and Latin word roots and master the phonetic rules of each major language that has contributed to the English lexicon, including Latin, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, and Japanese.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-05-28]

‘The Dictionary Wars’ Review: Fighting Words

A meek and tireless scholar works to clean up the often sloppy lexicographical work of Noah Webster. The whole effort spells trouble.

[subscription] One might well assume that Noah Webster (1758–1843), America’s most famous lexicographer, was a cloistered pedant or quiet scholar poring over books and manuscripts. In fact, he became, over the course of his long life, a quarrelsome, legalistic, grudge-holding man—at times for good reason.

[Wall_Street_Journal,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-05-27]

At annual spelling bee, schwas give competitors the most angst

For the spellers who will gather starting Monday at a convention center outside Washington for this year’s bee, an unremarkable sound is the cause of their angst, their sleepless nights, their lifelong memories of failure. It’s the most common sound in the English language, represented in the dictionary by an upside-down “e,” a gray chunk of linguistic mortar. To the uninitiated, it sounds like “uh.” Spellers know it by its proper name: the schwa.

[Japan_Times,_The; Tokyo,_JP; 2019-05-26]

Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

How an unknown American hobbyist sparked a Canadian dictionary.

The idea of Canada’s own English version dictionary started as absurd, and only got wilder and even a bit controversial from there. It starts in the 1950s when the high school educated American hobbyist Charles Lovell – a U.S. author of mountaineering in the Alberta Rockies to give him due credit – lobbied Canadian scholars and even the government to consider a Canadian dictionary.

[Sooke_News_Mirror; Sooke,_BC,_CA; 2019-05-25]

Merriam-Webster reveals the hardest words to spell in the English language ahead of the National Spelling Bee

They partnered with language app Babbel and analyzed a decade of data to uncover the results

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is set to kick off in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, with America's brainiest students battling it out for a $50,000 prize. Ahead of the Bee, Merriam-Webster has revealed the words most likely to send students packing in the final round of the competition. The company partnered with language app Babbel to analyze a decade of data from previous Spelling Bees in order to uncover the most commonly misspelled words - and the results were surprising. In a press release, Merriam Webster's Peter Sokolowski revealed that words derived from the French language were most likely to eliminate contestants.

[Mail_Online; London,_UK; 2019-05-21]

Even AI spellcheckers are no match for English’s quirks and eccentricities

No amount of intervention by artificial intelligence would pick up the difference between a “revue” and “review."

Who put the “b” in doubt, or the “l” in salmon? Why doesn’t “plumber” rhyme with “lumber”? The “blame”, in many cases, lies with Renaissance scribes, eager to show off their classical education and to bolster language’s Latin inheritance. Before these scholars looked to the Romans’ “dubitum”, English-speakers were perfectly happy with feeling an element of “dowt”. These same scribes put the “b” in plumber as a vigorous nod to the Latin “plumbum”, meaning “lead pipe”. Spelling moved on, but our sounds refused to budge.

[iNews; London,_UK; 2019-05-17]

Tory Minister for Education and Skills is not a skilled speller

The minister in charge of promoting the value of literacy and numeracy around the country needs to brush up on her spelling.

Anne Milton tweeted: "Its national numberacy [sic] day so test how good you are at numbers." Ms Milton, who believes maths and English are ‘very important’, will have also annoyed grammar pedants by leaving out an apostrophe from ‘its’. The errors of her ways were soon noticed and ridiculed by jokers online. ‘Fortunately, it’s not Literacy Day I guess,’ one responded.

[Metro; London,_UK; 2019-05-16]

To the children sitting SATs this week, I know you can do it – but I've no idea why this government is making you

I'm not prepared to accept a generation of young people denied a love of learning for its own sake – and I’m certainly not prepared to tolerate the harm these pointless exams are doing to their wellbeing.

This week more than 600,000 Year 6 pupils will take their Key Stage 2 SATs. Two spelling, punctuation and grammar tests on Monday; reading comprehension on Tuesday; two maths exams on Wednesday and a third on Thursday. Why? For what purpose?

[Independent; London,_UK; 2019-05-15]

How to spell the word craic (or crack?) and what Shakespeare would have said

The bard’s ‘cracker’ was somebody who talked big.

Shakespeare was a man who enjoyed the crack. Or even the “craic”, as 97 per cent of Twitter users now spell it, according to a poll being carried out, even as I write, by Róisín Ingle. But the Bard, of course, would have put a K in it, as in this extract from King John, in which Philip the Bastard (that’s the name Shakespeare gives him, not my description) and the Duke of Austria are engaged in mutual trash-talk.

[Irish_Times,_The; Dublin,_IE; 2019-05-15]

When spelling goes wrong: Famous typos from Trump to Nasa

Even the most meticulous proofreaders make mistakes from time to time.

Typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are irritants to some, sources of mirth to others and can lead to ridicule for those responsible. Nobody is perfect, yet some blunders are far more costly and humiliating than others.

[BBC; London,_UK; 2019-05-09]

Words, like people, have tangled and extensive family trees

Surprising connections emerge if you look back far enough

[subscription] IT IS NATURAL to try to find resemblances in family photos: grandma’s nose here, Uncle Jim’s hairline there. When considering the family of English words, it is tempting to look for the same sort of likenesses. Often they are real; for instance, regal and royal derive from the same source, which was imported into English twice, from both Grandpa Latin and Aunt French.

[Economist,_The; London,_UK; 2019-05-09]

Meet Scripps Spelling Bee Pronouncer Jacques Bailly

Competitors, who cannot be older than 14 nor beyond the eighth grade, have worked their way to the top of a pool of more than 11 million spellers from around the world. To get there, they've invested thousands of hours studying for the event, which carries a grand prize of $40,000, a $2,500 savings bond and hundreds of dollars in reference materials from Merriam-Webster and Encyclopaedia Britannica.

[Seven_Days; Burlington,_VT,_US; 2019-05-08]

Windsor speller wins national bee, headed to Washington

“He has been putting tremendous hours and weekends in to review and study all of Merriam-Webster’s tough words,” Rao Damarla said. “That put him at an advantage over the other kids.”

[Windsor_Star; Toronto,_ON,_CA; 2019-05-08]

Spelling bees do more than test your ability to spell

ESPN’s live broadcast of the Scripps National Spelling Bee – the ‘Olympics’ of spelling in the US, if you will – drew around a million viewers, according to The New York Times. If students outperform the competition to be crowned champion, they’ll walk away US$40,000 richer, in addition to having some serious bragging rights from beating hundreds of other students. But more than a competition that tests school-going participants’ ability to spell complicated words that many adults would have difficulty spelling or pronouncing themselves, students also stand to gain in a myriad of ways, apart from building an impressive vocabulary at a young age.

[Study_International; Bristol,_UK; 2019-05-07]

We Need to Talk About Phonics

The 2018 Functional skills reforms have brought about a number of changes to the curriculum. One which has caused some debate is the introduction of phonics in the English Functional Skills curriculum.

[FE_News; Exeter,_UK; 2019-05-05]

Don't ditch the adverb, the emoji of writing

The adverb gets people fired up, and the chorus calling for a ban is getting too loud to ignore.

Should we brazenly ditch the adverb? For those who spotted the nerdy linguistic pun in that question, my bias may be already abundantly clear. But maybe I’m wrong. Plenty of writers offer lexical advice - both solicited and not. The adverb gets people weirdly fired up; many are less fond of it than me. I spent recent months devouring writing about writing as I complete the first draft of my first novel, so the recurring themes are fresh in my sun-kissed skull.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-04-29]

8 ways to use phonics with adults

Synthetic phonics is most commonly associated with primary schools – but the technique can work with adults, too

The use of phonics with adults is not without controversy, with some feeling it infantilises older learners by using an approach more common in primary schools.

[TES; London,_UK; 2019-04-29]

Why Is English Spelling So Damn Weird?!

In this video I look at the historical factors that have made English spelling so varied, inconsistent, and unpredictable!


[YouTube; San_Bruno,_CA,_US; 2019-04-26]

William Shakespeare BOMBSHELL

How unearthed signatures of poet show ‘name spelt WRONG’

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S name may have been spelt wrong in published versions of his writing, according to six unearthed signatures of the late poet.

[Express; London,_UK; 2019-04-23]

The History of English and the Pedagogy of Belonging

Middle English became open to discussions about creolization. The British Middle Ages emerged as a bi-, if not a tri-lingual period. When Caxton asked what form of English would be suitable for printing literature, we debated the questions of social and regional variation. The history of spelling became a history of impositions, and I came to realize that one of the major reasons for the split between our modern spellings and pronunciations was the conviction of certain pedagogues and scholars of the 18th century that spelling should preserve historical, rather than current, forms.

[Los_Angeles_Review_of_Books; Los_Angeles,_CA,_US; 2019-04-23]

I don’t think so you are right

Learning English can be fun, if you get to learn about its usage through chonological anecdotes and common errors.

Did you know the informal word for man or fellow – Bloke comes from the Indian word loke? Or even the longest word that can be spelt without repeating a letter is Uncopyrightable. It’s it fun to know these small things from our daily usage in the English language?

[Asian_Age,_The; New_Delhi,_IN; 2019-04-22]

Honour, not honor

Western University changes 'un-Canadian' diploma spelling

Western University, a Canadian institution that’s used the American spelling of a word commonly found on its diplomas and other materials for 141 years, has finally reversed its policy.

[London_Free_Press,_The; Toronto,_ON,_CA; 2019-04-22]

Mind our language

Prince Charles has sparked an insular furore by writing in a world language. Will English fundamentalisms never cease?

Historically, the English have had an easy relationship with spelling. Their language is a salad bowl of autochthonous material, along with Roman, Nordic and Romance imports. One of the oldest English songs describes the loud song of the cuckoo as “lhude sing cuccu”, and it never bothered anyone. The trouble started when Dr Johnson systematised the vocabulary and schools fell in line, insisting on standard spellings.

[Indian_Express,_The; Noida,_UP,_IN; 2019-04-20]

Ize on the prize: is Prince Charles the last guardian of British spelling?

There has been much spluttering about the prince’s use of ‘Americanisms’ in a letter to Emmanuel Macron, but the truth is more complicated.

He wrote: “I realize only too well what a truly special significance the Cathedral holds at the heart of your nation.” It’s the “-ize” that has set people off. Aren’t the royal family supposed to be the guardians of this kind of thing? It’s as though Olivia Colman moved to Los Angeles, swore off tea and vowed never to use the word “Blighty” again. The ravens have left the tower.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-04-18]

Dyslexia group hosts symposium at Temple to highlight science of reading

The group is bringing attention to a need for systematic teaching of phonics and language.

“You look in our communities with the violence. You look in our jail systems. Those guys are crying out that they need help. It’s not saying that [they] need help with reading, but when you look at the correlation of the reading scores and the prison population, the unemployment rate, and every other negative statistic, and you see reading right there. We all know what needs to happen for all of our children to be equipped and to have an equal playing field in life. […] That’s why teachers need to understand how to teach children how to read. It’s so important,” said Johnstone.

[Notebook,_The; Philadellphia,_PA,_US; 2019-04-18]

Meghan is NOT writing Charles' letters, he just likes using 15th Century English

Prince's eccentric spellings are explained after Royal watchers object to 'Americanisms' in letter to Macron after Notre Dame fire

Despite the touching message, many of the royal's 714,000 followers were distracted by the 'Americanised' spellings - a day after fans claimed Meghan is running the SussexRoyal Instagram account, due to US words and phrases in the captions. Arguing that the future King should stick to British English, fans pointed out that 'agonizing, realize and civilizaton' were used in the letter, as opposed to 'agonising, realise and civilisaton'.

[Mail_Online; London,_UK; 2019-04-17]

The History of the Spelling Bee

Even in the age of autofill, America is still in love with the centuries-old tradition

In May, hundreds of kids from all over the United States and a handful of other countries will arrive in Washington, D.C., having sacrificed many hundreds of hours of free time to a singular kind of intensive study. In the most extreme cases, they will have tried to memorize every word in a nearly 3,000-page dictionary. I know the work they have put into preparing for their big day and the pressure they will be feeling, because I was one of them.

[Smithsonian; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-04-17]

Solved: The social media mystery of Prince Charles and the 'American' spelling

When the Prince of Wales published a letter of condolence to the French president after the Notre-Dame fire, he intended to convey to the nation his heartfelt sympathies. He may not have expected to become embroiled in one of the more bizarre royal internet conspiracy theories to date, nor to have inadvertently educated a generation in the finer points of 17th century English spelling.

[Telegraph,_The; London,_UK; 2019-04-17]

Line of Duty viewers can’t get over spelling blunder

Line Of Duty’s latest episode had fans up in arms.

Line of Duty fans were caught off-guard on Sunday night when they seemingly found themselves in the middle of a primary school English lesson. As the race was on to discover who ‘H’ is, a message popped up on the screen from the currently unknown perpetrator. It read: “Eastfield Depot is definately high risk,” notably spelling the word “definitely” wrong. Viewers rushed to social media after spotting the error to question how a mastermind of police corruption wouldn’t be able to spell basic words correctly.

[Daily_Star; London,_UK; 2019-04-15]

Linguists found the ‘weirdest languages’ – and English is one of them

Is English “weird”? Many of us might feel this is true when we’re trying to explain the complex spelling rules of the language, or the meanings of idioms such as “it’s raining cats and dogs” to someone who is learning English. Teaching or learning any language is, however, never an easy task.

[Conversation,_The; London,_UK; 2019-04-12]

Being Letter-Perfect Casts Its Spell

Duz speling evan mattar enymore?

After all, you knew what I meant, right? Companies deliberately misspell brand names (Froot Loops, Tumblr, Chick-fil-A). TV news graphics are rife with errors ("high tempertures," "choaos in streets"). And don't even get me started on emails, texts and internet posts.

[Creators; Hermosa_Beach,_CA,_US; 2019-04-10]

When Language Started a Political Revolution

Will Brexit fracture the UK? Ireland, for example, has its own cultural identity and language, which are perhaps more linked to Europe than to England.

Irish used to use its own writing system, Ogham, before it moved to the Latin alphabet and had to do the best with what that imperfect system could give. Full of strings of vowels and consonants clumped bewilderingly together, such as in “bhfaighidh” “will get” (which is pronounced almost as a monosyllable), Irish spelling looks so weird and unwieldy from an English spelling perspective, that Irish names like Saoirse, Siobhan, and Niamh are often mispronounced by non-Irish speakers who want to sound out every letter the English way.

[Jstor_Daily; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-04-10]

Why do girls outperform boys on reading tests around the world?

All around the world, girls outperform boys on reading tests. Why is this?

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2019-04-06]

A case for why both sides in the ‘reading wars’ debate are wrong — and a proposed solution

This is an unusual post about the “reading wars,” that seemingly never-ending battle about how to best teach reading to students — systematic phonics or whole language. This argues that both sides have it wrong, and the authors, two brothers who are literacy experts, suggest a new way.

[Washington_Post,_The; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-03-27]

‘Why I love the English language and all its weirdities’

Because of its structure and the way it has been created over the centuries, English is accepted as being one of the more difficult languages to learn, which to me makes it all the more surprising that it is swiftly becoming the ‘lingua franca’ of the whole world, taking over to a large extent from French, which held the honor for many years.

[Starts_at_60; Brisbane,_QLD,_AU; 2019-03-21]

Meddling with words shows off their mettle

“Medal,” “metal,” “meddle” and “mettle” are examples of homophones. Homophones are a type of homonym that sound alike, have different meanings and also have different spellings.

[Journal_Gazette,_The; Fort_Wayne,_IN,_US; 2019-03-16]

Burnley Spelling Bee finalists announced after closely-fought semi

The finalists of a Burnley-wide primary school spelling competition have been revealed after a closely-fought semi-final saw the deserving word-wizards earn their chances to be crowned spelling champions.

"All of the children had worked really hard to learn their spellings and the speed at which they were saying them was astonishing," said one of the organisers. "It felt like some of the children had forgotten to breathe!"

[Burnley_Express; Burnley,_UK; 2019-03-14]

Languages are too big for academies to tame

Members of the Académie française have swords but no power

[subscription] IT IS HARD to imagine now, but once upon a time a prominent writer in English envied the powerful role of an authoritarian French institution. The writer was Jonathan Swift, who in 1712 wrote to the Earl of Oxford that the “daily corruptions” of English were outpacing its “improvements”. The Académie française had been founded to stop exactly that process, and Swift called for an English Academy to do the same.

[Economist,_The; London,_UK; 2019-03-14]

Spelling may be a lost art, but there is help

I sometimes have trouble spelling such words as “seperating.”

I know, I spelled “separating” incorrectly. Fortunately, my spell-check program caught my mistake and I made the change. I’m not alone in making spelling errors.

[Grand_Haven_Tribune; Grand_Haven,_MI,_US; 2019-03-11]

'Forbearance' pays off: India International School in Japan student wins 10th Japan Times Bee

The winning word was “forbearance,” meaning “patience,” and Ariya Narayanasamy may be representative of the word — going through more than two dozen rounds of unceasing demands to spell sometimes arcane words accurately and pick correct definitions without making a single mistake.

[Japan_Times,_The; Tokyo,_JP; 2019-03-11]

H is for Harry review – hard lessons to be learned

This heartbreaking documentary charts the struggles of a year-seven pupil from a disadvantaged background – and offers no easy answers

Harry is a white working-class boy: the demographic that gets the worst GCSE results. His dad left school illiterate, so did his grandad. Not yet a teenager, Harry can already picture a future in which he is homeless – it’s heartbreaking.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-03-07]

What did Oxford do to deserve this?

Annette Ginn, one of the technical writers at kdm communications, discusses the Oxford z.

Despite widespread belief that ‘z’ spellings originate from the US, it seems that the ‘-ize’ forms have been used in UK English since the 15th century, with the verb ‘organize’ first appearing in the Oxford English Dictionary as early as 1425.

[Cambridge_Network; Cambridge,_UK; 2019-03-05]

Is there a question mark over the apostrophe’s future?

It has its diehard fans, but do we really need this punctuation mark?

If we don’t need apostrophes in speaking, why do we need them in writing? Can’t we just get rid of them? German has made a move in that direction. Wie geht es? “How’s it going?” is usually abbreviated to Wie gehts?. Before the spelling reform of 1996, this was most often written with an apostrophe: Wie geht’s, but in the new reformed spelling system, the apostrophe is no longer necessary. Punctuation generally is a vitally important tool for indicating features of the spoken language, like intonation, which cannot otherwise be indicated in writing. But this is not true of English apostrophes.

[New_European,_The; Norwich,_UK; 2019-03-05]

How Ong Ye Kung learnt to pronounce 'bar-ber' and struggled with English

Education Minister Ong Ye grew up in a Chinese-speaking family and struggled with English though school.

"I grew up in a Chinese-speaking family, and read only Chinese comics when I was young," he said. "I entered Primary 1 without being able to speak or read much English. My late mother, a Chinese teacher, tried to coach me, but her English was also limited. Then sometime in Primary 3, I had a eureka moment, when I figured out that if 'b-a-r' reads 'bar', and 'b-e-r' reads 'ber', and if I put the two together it became 'bar-ber'. In other words, I figured out phonics.

[Straits_Times,_The; Singapore,_SG; 2019-03-05]

Britain’s battle to get to grips with literacy is laid bare in H is for Harry

New documentary reveals difficulties facing white, working-class boys

Harry is a white working-class boy, the demographic that does least well at school. His story shines a light on a scarcely believable fact: that in the 21st century, in one of the most developed countries in the world, one in five children leave primary school unable to read or write properly. Nine million adults in the UK are functionally illiterate, and one in four British five-year-olds struggles with basic vocabulary. The cost to the economy is put at more than £37bn a year by the World Literacy Foundation.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-03-03]

Child Genius 2019: what time it’s on Channel 4 tonight and what to expect from Richard Osman’s show

Richard Osman will be putting the 19 contenders between the ages of 8 and 12 through their paces to win the coveted title

The search to find 2019’s child genius has begun with the new Channel 4 TV series. The first episode will feature two rounds based on language skills. The contenders will be tasked with spelling out some of the most complicated words in the English dictionary.

[iNews; London,_UK; 2019-03-01]

Identifying students with dyslexia in middle, high school

This is Part One of a five-part series about how to support and accommodate middle-schoolers, high-schoolers and adults with dyslexia.

I’ve had many older students confess to me that they would rather be thought of as defiant than stupid. Many students with undiagnosed dyslexia suffer from anxiety. Depending on the severity of their language challenges, the student may opt out of activities to avoid being put on the spot or placed under pressure to perform.

[Smart_Brief; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-02-28]

Nine Surprising Facts About the English Language

If you read and listen to our Everyday Grammar program each week, you know it has detailed explanations of grammar, sentence structure and language usage. The show provides a lot of information for English learners.

[Voice_of_America; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-02-28]

14 Everyday Words Nearly Everyone Misspells

If you’ve ever second-guessed yourself while trying to spell words like “beautiful,” “receipt,” and “license,” and turned to Google for help, you’re far from the only one.

For better or worse, the days of flipping through a dictionary to find how to spell something are all but over. Whenever we’re uncertain about how to spell a word, the correct spelling is only a few quick keystrokes away. Thanks to data from SEMrush, we’ve found the words that people Google how to spell most often—and many of them are probably words you use all the time.

[Reader's_Digest; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-02-22]

Adult literacy app competition awards $3M to teams with most progress for users

Former governor Jeb Bush announced the winners of the first phase of the $7 Million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE competition at the annual Florida Celebration of Reading on Feb. 7. Two teams split the $3 million grand prize for overall performance of the mobile applications they developed to improve literacy among adult learners. The competition began on former first lady Barbara Bush’s birthday in 2015 and included 109 development teams from 15 countries. Both winning teams also received a $1 million “achievement prize” for the best performance among native English speakers and English learners, the competition’s two key demographics.

[Street_Sense_Media; Washington,_DC,_US; 2019-02-22]

More children around the world are being taught in English, often badly

If children or teachers do not understand the language of instruction, they cannot learn or teach properly

[subscription] Private schools have been mushrooming in India—private-sector enrolment rose from around a quarter of pupils in 2010-11 to over a third in 2016-17—and in Sarojini Nagar there are 200 registered private schools and many more unregistered ones. One of their main attractions is that the great majority of them use (or claim to use) English as the language of instruction.

[Economist,_The; London,_UK; 2019-02-21]

Meet the grammar guardian who finds sloppiness literally! Everywhere

Benjamin Dreyer loves Oxford commas, hates British spellings and can’t say ‘stinky’ out loud.

His new book, Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, is the climax (so far) of his nearly three decades in the copy-editing business, and it shows his playful sense of humour as well as his deep appreciation for clear writing and good language. The book is full of no-nonsense pronouncements on matters like the Oxford comma (the final comma in series such as red, blue, and green; use it, he says) and the word “literally” (use it at your peril). It is also idiosyncratic, because writing style is highly personal, subject to an individual’s taste and whim.

[Irish_Times,_The; Dublin,_IE; 2019-02-15]

Calling All Students to Join Free, Fun Online Spelling Competition!

Students in the United States are invited to put their spelling skills to the test in Word Mania USA, the worlds biggest online literacy competition.

LiteracyPlanet U.S. Commercial Director Ashley O’Connor said she was looking forward to seeing children in the U.S. rise to the challenge: “Word Mania is a great way for students to improve literacy skills while having fun. It’s been shown to improve a variety of literacy skills including phonics, spelling, vocabulary and word knowledge and we see an average 36 per cent improvement in scores over the competition.”

[Global_Banking_&_Finance_Review; London,_UK; 2019-02-13]

Hinson wins two spelling bees at Hilltop

Catherine Hinson, a sixth grader at Hilltop Montessori School, won two different school spelling bees held on campus recently. One bee was held in English in the traditional spelling bee format and a second one was held all in Spanish.

[280_Living; Homewood,_AL,_US; 2019-02-12]

DPS International Student wins Ghana Spelling Bee title

There was wild and spontaneous jubilation as the 13-year old Grade Eight pupil of DPS International Ghana, Kwabena Adu Darko-Asare, emerged the overall winner of the 12th edition of the National Finals of The Spelling Bee held on 2nd Feb 2019.

[Ghana_Web; Accra,_GH; 2019-02-12]

Seoul to correct spelling errors on street signs

The move comes after media reports that there are many ― some critical ― mistakes on signs written in English, Chinese and Japanese. Errors include an English sign calling a post office a hospital and another one spelling gallery as "gallerly."

[Korea_Times,_The; Seoul,_KR; 2019-02-12]

Improve English writing skills

British Council offers courses to improve writing in English.

If you find it very difficult to start writing or come up with ideas, find short topics or questions and just practice writing continuously for five to ten minutes. The idea is to write without stopping, not worrying about spelling or grammar. Use a timer to time yourself in order to avoid stopping. Students who do “quick writes” daily will see an increase in written fluency and creativity in conceiving ideas, and have ongoing practice in a meaningful but less pressured way.

[Sun_Daily,_The; Selangor,_MY; 2019-02-12]

A Style Guide for the 1 Percent

The new grammar and usage handbook by Benjamin Dreyer, Twitter’s premier grammarian, reinforces an elitist view of writing and language.

The rules that govern English usage have never been particularly democratic. Why do we take “cues” but stand in “queues”? Why do we wake up “every day” but tolerate “everyday” annoyances? In the introduction to Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, Benjamin Dreyer, the longtime copy chief at Random House, quotes an acquaintance’s comparison of copy editors to “priests, safeguarding their faith.”

[Nation,_The; Lagos,_NG; 2019-02-11]

Writing proper English: let's call it an act of resistance

Spend more than a few minutes in the word business – I've spent going on 30 years in it, as a proofreader, copy editor, publishing-house copy chief and, recently, the author of a guide to writing style – and you'll quickly learn that the English language, to say nothing of its practitioners, is irrational, irregular and anarchic. You can choose either to embrace that or to rail against it, but I assure you that the former is more fun and less taxing.

[Sydney_Morning_Herald,_The; Sydney,_NSW,_AU; 2019-02-11]

Why study English? We’re poorer in every sense without it

Fewer are taking the subject at A-level and university. Are they being put off by the way government says it must be taught?

The lack of science, maths and language teachers has been talked about for years. But a shortage of English teachers has gone under the radar.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-02-10]

Spelling bees? No, but they can do arithmetic, say researchers

Study says honeybees can learn to carry out exact numerical calculations

Honeybees can learn to add and subtract, according to research showing that while the insects have tiny brains, they are still surprisingly clever.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-02-06]

Etymology gleanings for December 2018 and January 2019

The progress of Spelling Reform

The Society’s work is going on well.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2019-02-06]

Sats: why etymology boosts vocabulary and spelling

Breaking words down to uncover meaning helps learning, says Aidan Severs as he offers five ways to introduce etymology

"This lesson just got interesting," exclaimed one of my more vocal pupils. No, I hadn’t just introduced the latest piece of edtech or revealed laminated resources that took me all evening to prepare. I wasn’t even crouching in a home-made cage dressed as an elephant (yeah, I did that once). All I did was look up the etymology of a word.

[TES; London,_UK; 2019-02-04]

A grammarian on levels of spelling tolerance

007: License to Kill. Or is it Licence?

If you ever wonder whether to use licence or license, there’s a pattern you can call on: License and practise are trickier without the z sound in the -ise, so it’s a good memory aid. Americans don’t bother with this ise/ice distinction, sticking with -ice, which, given the inevitable Americanisation of the world, possibly adds to New Zealanders’ confusion.

[Noted; Auckland,_NZ; 2019-02-02]

Mistakes are the engine of language’s evolution

An apron was once a napron, an adder a nadder

[paywall] Take the child collecting different kinds of animals in a video game: “I got a new specie!”, he cries. The source of the mistake is obvious. The child has heard the slightly rarefied word “species” and assumed it was the plural of something called a specie. Children do this kind of thing all the time as they learn language; generalising from things previously heard and rules previously mastered is the only way they can progress with such speed. In most cases, errors disappear on their own.

[Economist,_The; London,_UK; 2019-01-31]

Why spelling and grammar rules are broken

I wonder if my generation has harrumphed forever about the correct use of written English because we found satisfaction in gloating over younger people, because we clung to that superiority in a world leaving us behind.

[Newcastle_Herald,_The; Newcastle,_NSW,_AU; 2019-01-27]

Anger over spelling of Irish names on transport passes

Irish transport authority blames ‘technical limitation’ for lack of fadas on Leap cards

The fada – a slanting line over a vowel – is a way of indicating a particular pronunciation or meaning in Irish. Seán is the Irish version of John whereas sean means old. The state agency blamed a “technical limitation” for its rendering of Bríd as Brid, Sinéad as Sinead, Séamus as Seamus and a host of other errors.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2019-01-21]

20 words that are spelled the same but have different meanings

There are plenty of words in the English language that are spelled the same but have completely different meanings.

It's no secret that the English language can be tricky. For anyone learning the language, it's difficult to grasp all the drastic differences a single word can have. People most get tripped up on words that are too similar. When words are spelled the same and sound the same but have different meanings, then they are called homonyms. When they are just spelled the same but sound different and have different meanings, then they are homographs.

[Insider; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-01-08]

15 of the Hardest Words to Spell in the English Language

The English language is full of words that seem overstuffed with unnecessary letters, feel like they should be spelled a different way, or just don’t make sense.

[Reader's_Digest; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-01-07]

If You Can Correctly Pronounce Every Word in This 1920s Poem, You’re Among the English-Speaking Elite

As The Poke points out, a poem written in 1920 perfectly encapsulates the baffling nature of English. In fact, it's so tricky that even native English speakers with college degrees may struggle to get through it without botching a word.

[Mental_Floss; New_York,_NY,_US; 2019-01-01]

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