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Clever ways to use Alexa to make your life easier

With Bamboo English, you’ll get over 60,000 exercises, including 10,000 free ones to get you started, for phonics, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary.

[Cool_Mom_Tech; US; 2020-12-28]



For those whose primary language is anything but English, the road to reaching fluency in the latter is anything but smooth. The English language is considered one of the hardest to learn for a number of reasons. From baffling spelling and pronunciation to peculiar grammar structures (the phenomenon of phrasal verbs especially comes to mind), there is no shortage of reasons why English as a second language (ESL) learners struggle to pick up the language.

[Elearning; Louisville,_KY,_US; 2020-12-28]

Miss Peller’s dictionary takes a new look at everyday words

I thought long and hard about what to give you as a (belated) Christmas gift, and settled upon a dictionary.

Every one of these is a spelling I’ve seen used. Mostly online, but some of them (I’m ashamed to admit) have been in newspapers. I’ve passed them all on to Miss Peller, with definitions that I think match the spelling.

[Courier,_The; Dundee,_UK; 2020-12-27]

Will technology end the English language's global domination?

English has been globally dominant for hundreds of years, but tech threatens to end that hegemony.

Whatever way you look at it, English is the dominant language in the world... the default in practically all domains of global communication.

[CGTN; Beijing,_CN; 2020-12-26]

English Blues: Do you know the difference between August and august or Turkey and turkey?

Capitonym is a portmanteau of ‘capital’ and the suffix ‘-onym’ (from the Greek ‘onoma’ which means ‘name’). In any capitonym pair, one word is a proper noun and the other is a common noun.

Look at this example. ‘Mobile’, when capitalised, refers to a port city on the coast of southern Alabama. It is pronounced /mbi:l/. The second syllable ‘bile’ in ‘Mobile’ rhymes with ‘deal’ and is stressed. The word ‘mobile’, when not capitalised, means ‘able to move freely’ or a cellphone and is pronounced /mbl/ with the stress on the first syllable. The second syllable ‘bile’ in ‘mobile’ rhymes with ‘file’.

[Edex_Live; Chennai,_TN,_IN; 2020-12-20]

If You Get 9/11 On This Quiz, You Have A Solid Knowledge Of English

Autocorrect won't save you now.

[BuzzFeed; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-12-18]

Afternoons on BBC Radio WM

Trusted local News, information and advice and Make A Difference.

[audio 1.7.15 — 1.12.40] Jack Bovill (chair, English Spelling Society) interviewed. [available until 2021-01-04]

[BBC; London,_UK; 2020-12-17]

Shoppers spot spelling mistake on M&S Christmas jumper but is it intentional?

It wouldn’t be the festive season without some Christmas jumpers.

Fans of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will already be familiar with Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous line ‘bah, humbug’, a phrase that M&S have placed on their newest festive outerwear item. However, there is a noteworthy difference on this jumper, with the spelling of ‘bah’ changed to ‘baa’.

[Metro; London,_UK; 2020-12-15]

Denver says this reading curriculum supports English learners

But the state says it’s not based on science and has to go.

The “science of reading” refers to a large body of research on how children learn to read. One key finding is that explicit, systematic phonics helps build skilled readers. In other words, teachers must directly and methodically teach children the connection between letter combinations and sounds. Experts also agree that phonics instruction on its own isn’t enough.

[ChalkBeat; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-12-14]

Kansas schools to revamp reading education, but pandemic has caused some delays

The way kids in Kansas learn to read is in for a major rewrite.

Structured literacy aims to teach kids how to decode words. Students break down words phonetically and are drilled on specific English spelling rules, which researchers say makes a huge difference for students with dyslexia.

[L_J_World; Lawrence,_KS,_US; 2020-12-11]

Making sense of English

Here’s my modest proposal to bring rationality back into the English language: Whenever a toddler has his second birthday, assign a Ph.D. in English to follow him around for a full year, making notes of everything he says and the way he says it. The result will be an English language that is no longer a memorized list of exceptions to rules that are confusing enough already. Rather, in my brave new world our language will have a few simple rules that are always followed. The overarching principle is this: If that’s the way a 2-year-old first says it, that’s the way we all will say it for the rest of our lives.

[Republic,_The; Columbus,_IN,_US; 2020-12-10]

Is it Hanukkah or Chanukah? Why the Jewish holiday has multiple spellings

The Jewish holiday Hanukkah begins on Dec. 10. Or does it start with a C? End with an A or H? Is there one K or are there two? Let's explain.

The confusion over the spelling comes because the name of the holiday is a Hebrew word and the English transliteration isn't totally clear. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there are 24 spellings for Hanukkah, during which Jews light candles on a menorah to celebrate the miracle of a one-day oil supply lasting eight after the Maccabean Revolt in the second century B.C.

[USA_Today; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-12-10]

TV Chef Nigella Lawson Pronounces "Microwave" Like a Harry Potter Spell


There are too many words in the English language that I see on a fairly frequent basis and have a most basic understanding of but—and unforgivably so—have no idea how to pronounce.

[Harper's_Bazaar; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-12-08]

Is the ability to spell accurately still important?

You bet.

As American syndicated public affairs columnist William Raspberry wrote, “Good English, well spoken and well written, will open more doors than a college degree … bad English will slam doors you don’t even know exist.”

[Times_Colonist; Victoria,_BC,_CA; 2020-12-06]

Sats 2021: U-turn as KS1 tests scrapped

But majority of KS2 Sats will go ahead next summer, despite repeated calls for tests to be scrapped

KS2 Sats papers in reading and maths, as well as the Year 1 phonics check, will take place next year, the department said. However, all KS1 Sats, as well as the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test at KS2, will be cancelled in 2021.

[TES; London,_UK; 2020-12-03]

Etymology gleanings for November 2020

On spelling

But my wants are few: I am ready to accept the mildest version of the reform, only to see the stone rolling.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-12-02]

13 Words That Can Be Pronounced Two Ways

Have you ever wondered the proper way to pronounce "leisure"? What about tuh-MAY-toe, tuh-MAH-toe? Learn about these words and more, explained by an editor.

We aren’t talking about homonyms (same spelling but different meaning); homophones (same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling); nor homographs (same spelling but not necessarily pronounced the same and having different meanings and origins). Rather, we’re investigating words with a single intended meaning that can be properly pronounced in two or more well-documented ways.

[Reader's_Digest; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-12-02]

Author Simplifies the Spelling of the English Language in New Book

In ‘Inglish Maed Simpəl’ Chris Marquis has devised a foolproof method of writing English exactly as it sounds!

One thing is for sure: English needs “Inglish Maed Simpəl,” as it becomes the world’s international language, more by choice than design. (Esperanto went nowhere!) Whether one’s first language includes the Roman alphabet (ABC) or not, the simplification of spelling by either version of IMS, will make the learning of English easier, with a quicker and more thorough understanding. And understanding is, after all, the primary purpose of a language!

[GlobeNewswire; Los_Angeles,_CA,_US; 2020-12-02]

Oxford Dictionaries: 2020 has too many Words of the Year to name just one

Instead, the OED says ‘a year that has left us speechless’ is best reflected by expanding its annual selection to a whole list.

For the first time, the Oxford English Dictionary has chosen not to name a word of the year, describing 2020 as “a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single word”. Instead, from “unmute” to “mail-in”, and from “coronavirus” to “lockdown”, the eminent reference work has announced its “words of an ‘unprecedented’ year”.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2020-11-23]

Why doughnut spelling always gets us in a jam

English may be tough to pronounce, but you can learn enough through thorough thought though.

Donut or doughnut – which is right? Like most observers, I’d presumed the divide to be geographical – us versus US. Habitual tea-drinkers may scoff doughnuts, while Starbuck patrons would plump for the ugh-free versions. Though nothing about the deep-fried torus is ever so simple.

[Sydney_Morning_Herald,_The; Sydney,_NSW,_AU; 2020-11-20]

Trump’s lawsuits plagued by spelling errors

‘I’ve never seen an election lawyer handle a case as poorly as Giuliani has.’

But his attorneys have repeatedly made elementary errors in those high-profile cases: misspelling “poll watcher” as “pole watcher,” forgetting the name of the presiding judge during a hearing, inadvertently filing a Michigan lawsuit before an obscure court in Washington and having to refile complaints after erasing entire arguments they’re using to challenge results.

[Independent; London,_UK; 2020-11-20]

Surrey, B.C., girl heads to national spelling bee after arriving in Canada 2 years ago

My goals are actually coming true,' says the 9-year-old spelling champ.

Harbin Kaur, a Grade 4 student at the Khalsa School, Newton campus, won the title last month for best junior speller in B.C. "My dad started pushing me to learn English and then I just tried to read as many books as I can," said Kaur. Her family moved to Canada from India two years ago. While she spoke some English before arriving, Kaur mainly spoke Hindi and Punjabi at home.

[CBC_News; Toronto,_ON,_CA; 2020-11-13]

Uttar Pradesh: Spelling mistakes in ransom note land 8-year-old boy’s murderer behind bars

In the ransom message, the accused spelt Sitapur as 'Seeta-pur' and police as 'pulish', Hardoi superintendent of police Anurag Vats said.

Agra: In English, the word ‘police’ is not spelt as ‘pulish’ and ‘Sitapur’ is not ‘Seeta-pur’. A 22-year-old youth learnt this after he was arrested for allegedly kidnapping and murdering his eight-year-old distant cousin from Hardoi of Uttar Pradesh.

[Times_Now_News; Noida,_UP,_IN; 2020-11-08]

Etymology gleanings for October 2020

The topic is not worthy of detailed comments here, because everything that can be said for and against changing English spelling has been said many times.

No one pronounces ch– in chthonic. I agree. So why keep it? Because it gives us an insight into Greek? Do we know anyone who has mastered Classical Greek through the spelling of Modern English? Whose history do we honor ~ honour when we spell colour and color: Latin or French?

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-11-04]

Twelfth-Grade NAEP Scores Offer More Bad News for Reading, Stagnation in Math

“What this demonstrates is a system-wide failure to teach our children how to read and comprehend text,” Solari wrote.

[74,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-10-28]

What would you call a bunch of SA parliamentarians?

We need to come up with quirky collective nouns for things like our sports teams and members of political parties.

[subscriber only] "The reason there are so many spelling quizzes in the English language is because English spelling makes no sense." I make a living writing in English. My mother tongue is isiZulu, a language where the spelling is phonetic. Words are spelled exactly how they sound. And there are rules with few to no exceptions. I can spell words just by hearing them being pronounced. My younger brother lived in Rome and came back speaking fluent Italian because, as one of his professors observed, "Italian spelling is phonetic, just like your language."

[Sunday_Times,_The_(ZA); Johannesburg,_ZA; 2020-10-25]

Brit Slang

Ten English Insults Every Anglophile Should Know.

Being American, you probably think you know all the insults there are in the English language, but England has many more to share. Whether you’re having it out with a mate and want to throw a good jab at him or you need to tell someone what a terrible person they really are, there are plenty of great insults for all occasions in England. We have identified ten of our favorites and an explanation of their meanings below. You can give us some of your favorite insults in the comments and we promise not to be too cross.

[Anglotopia; Chicago,_IL,_US; 2020-10-23]

English language exam leaves students & parents stumped – so can YOU answer it?

AN ENGLISH exam question left tens of thousands of students baffled on Tuesday - but would you have done any better?

Pupils in New South Wales in Australia were presented with a drawing of a man rowing in a boat using a pencil for an oar through a sea, accompanied by a series of words. They were then asked to explain how the scene used language forms and features to best communicate creative ideas.

[Sun,_The; London,_UK; 2020-10-23]

Ask a Teacher

Silent Letters

Why do we have some silent letters in English? Like these words: write, know, half, hide. So, tell me, why should we write them, although we don't pronounce them?

[Voice_of_America; Washington,_DC,_US; 2020-10-23]

12 Funniest New Words Added to the Dictionary in 2020

From puggle to nothingburger, these are the silliest words that were made official this past year.

Does the word jiggly make you giggly? You’re not alone—it’s scientifically proven that some words are funnier than others. Stunningly, there’s research on the subject too. One 2018 study from the University of Alberta set out to find the top ten funniest words in the English language (spoiler: “jiggly” is one of them) and understand why they make us laugh so much.

[Reader's_Digest; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-10-22]

Walney pupil who 'had trouble spelling' has short story published in national anthology

A story written by a Walney School pupil has been published nationally.

“Caitlin was a very quiet and introverted writer when she first started attending Creative Writing Club but I am so pleased to see how confident she has become over the last year - from shy and unsure to being awarded a place in the NCS anthology as one of 12 nationally.”

[Mail,_The; Kendal,_UK; 2020-10-20]

A Word in Your Ear with Roly Sussex

[Audio] It's sometimes said that we should reform English spelling so that there should be one letter for one sound and one sound for one letter. Professor Roly Sussex is chatting about why he thinks this wouldn't work and the common mistakes we make in spelling.

[ABC_Radio; Adelaide,_SA,_AU; 2020-10-15]

A fishy tale of long lost sounds

I have always thought that wrasse is a rather strange-looking English word. Maybe I am just wrong about this, because there are, after all, other originally Old English words beginning with wra- in the modern language, including wrack, ‘damage, disaster, ruin’ – as in “wrack and ruin”; wrath, ‘anger’; wrangle, ‘quarrel’; and wrap. These words are spelt with the initial letter w because they used to be pronounced with a w sound at the beginning, which is no longer possible in the present-day language. The w sound in words with initial wr- such as wrasse, wrench, write, wrong, wrung was lost in the pronunciation of most English speakers during the 1600s.

[New_European,_The; Norwich,_UK; 2020-10-08]

Confessions of a grammar snob who is trying to get over herself

But we also have transcended a longstanding, arbitrary class distinction, designed mainly to keep a lot of people in places where they did not deserve to be confined. This looks and sounds like progress to me.

[Herald-Tribune; Sarasota,_FL,_US; 2020-10-07]

5 tips for being a teacher with dyslexia

Dyslexia should not hold you back from being a teacher.

One of the main reasons I hesitated to become an English teacher was because I have dyslexia. I love the subject, but I was convinced that I wasn’t fit to do the job. But I soon found that my dyslexia was not only manageable, it also offered me some unforeseen advantages.

[TES; London,_UK; 2020-10-07]

Class 8 student from Gurugram wins first Collins National Online Spelling Bee

Out of 10,000 students of Class 6 to 8, 24 top scorers qualified for the semi-finals.

I have been very impressed with the spelling skills on display during the Collins National Spelling Bee. English spelling is notoriously tricky: the language has 44 sounds but only 26 letters of the alphabet with which to represent these sounds and this - plus the complex history of English - makes English spelling unpredictable and difficult. All of the competitors through to the live rounds - the semi-finalists and finalists - did brilliantly and displayed some impressive real spelling skills.

[Times_Now_News; Noida,_UP,_IN; 2020-10-06]

TV is damaging novels and spelling, warn Nick Hornby and Edna O’Brien

The authors fear young people are losing the desire and ability to write.

Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity and About a Boy, said young writers looking for success “head for television” rather than try their hands at novels. His comments, made at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival yesterday, came as Edna O’Brien, described as the “most gifted woman now writing in English”, said young women often had poor spelling and shunned literature.

[Sunday_Times,_The_(UK); London,_UK; 2020-10-04]

Children’s games and some problematic English spellings

Several years ago, I wrote a series of posts titled “The Oddest English Spellings.” Later, The English Spelling Society began to prepare a new version of the Reform, and I let a team of specialists deal with such problems. Yet an email from one of our regular correspondents suggested to me that perhaps one more post in this blog may reinforce the interest of the public in how we spell English.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-09-30]

Remarks by Counselor for Public Affairs Virginia Elliott – The Spelling Bee Semi-Finals

“A robust economy in Ghana depends on much more than its natural wealth – it also depends on human resources, which starts with education . The learning of basic skills like reading, writing, and math are a pre-condition to equitable economic growth, improving critical health indicators, gender equality, and socio-democratic progress.”

[US_Embassy_in_Ghana; Accra,_GH; 2020-09-26]

Researchers gain deep insights into the structure of birds’ brains

A cortex-like canonical circuit in the avian forebrain.

Some birds are capable of astonishing cognitive performances to rival those of higher developed mammals such as primates. For example, ravens recognize themselves in the mirror and plan for the future. They are also able to put themselves in the position of others, recognize causalities and draw conclusions. Pigeons can learn English spelling up to the level of six-year-old children.

[News_Medical; Manchester,_UK; 2020-09-26]

Children with dyslexia just learn differently': Cork mum says son's early diagnosis crucial

An early dyslexia diagnosis helps children get essential learning support in school.

A subsequent educational psychologist report, done through the school, identified dyslexia “on the highest scale”, says mum-of-two Andrea, who describes how words “would fall off the page” when Dylan tried to read. “He’d say ‘the words are moving around’.”

[Irish_Examiner; Cork,_IE; 2020-09-25]

7-y-o whiz kid - Can spell the longest word in English vocabulary

Abysenya Gordon is just seven years old, and to the amazement of her family, is spelling words most adults cannot even pronounce.

The Clarendon resident says she noticed that Abysenya was not an average kid from she was about two years old. And now, she is interested in getting a Spelling Bee coach for her. "I remember her knowing all her aunts, uncles and grandparents' first and last names from she was just two. So, I was saying, 'Something [is] special about this child'. And I realise that she's good at the big words. She can spell all of them easier than the small words," she said.

[Star_(JM),_The; Kingston,_JM; 2020-09-25]

Bamboo Learning Introduces Bamboo English

Voice-Based English Language Arts Curriculum for Children in Grades K–5 to Use on Alexa Devices at Home.

Bamboo Learning, the leading provider of voice-based learning solutions, today announced “Bamboo English”, an innovative voice application for children in grades K–5 featuring over 140 English Language Arts (ELA) units and more than 60,000 exercises to use at home. The Bamboo English voice-based curriculum includes learning modules on Phonics, Spelling, Grammar, Vocabulary, and Listening/Reading. The scope and sequence of Bamboo English are designed to support children in grades K–5 in establishing the foundation for a lifetime of improved reading and writing skills.

[PR_Web; Beltsville,_MD,_US; 2020-09-22]

Rotary Sunrise, LIFE donate spelling programme to East End Primary

Literacy is for Everyone (LIFE) and Rotary Sunrise joined forces to supply East End Primary students with a new spelling programme.

Through the funds raised by Rotary Sunrise, the students and staff of East End Primary School have been provided with ‘Read Write Inc. Spelling’, which the organisations describe as a “robust, fast-paced, systematic spelling programme for children in Years 2 to 6”.

[Cayman_Compass; George_Town,_KY; 2020-09-21]

The right diagnosis and treatment for dyslexia

Behavioural optometrist Irfaan Adamally on oculomotor dysfunction, Dr Neville Brown on the success of Maple Hayes Hall school, and Prof Brian Butterworth on the even more severe consequences of dyscalculia.

[letters] My heart leapt when I saw your long read (The battle over dyslexia, 17 September), but returned rapidly to its normal position as I read it. No mention of the new rules for dyslexia assessors in schools. No mention of oculomotor dysfunction. No mention of behavioural optometry. How disappointing.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2020-09-20]

The Write Offs: What happened when eight adults who struggled with reading and writing took a crash course in literacy

A new documentary follows eight people of all ages as they learn to read and write – and aims to end the shame of adult illiteracy.

At 66, Dawkins is one of the estimated 8.5 million adults in the UK who struggle with basic reading and writing skills. This makes seemingly straightforward tasks such as writing down an address or reading instructions a huge and stressful ordeal.

[iNews; London,_UK; 2020-09-18]

Central West Leadership Academy ICAS results are in

The ICAS test is the International Competition and Assessments for Schools. There are five categories in which the students were able to compete this year: digital technology, english, spelling, science, and mathematics.

[Daily_Liberal; Dubbo,_NSW,_AU; 2020-09-18]

The battle over dyslexia

It was once a widely accepted way of explaining why some children struggled to read and write. But in recent years, some experts have begun to question the existence of dyslexia itself.

Julian “Joe” Elliott was training to be an educational psychologist when his supervisor invited him to lunch one day. The year was 1984, and Elliott was 28. As they were eating, Elliott’s supervisor mentioned that he had spent the morning testing a child for dyslexia. He had determined the child was dyslexic, and put her on a programme called Data-Pac, a new approach to teaching literacy which paired teachers with children for individual sessions that taught them how to sound out letter combinations. Elliott asked what he would have recommended if the child hadn’t been dyslexic. His supervisor appeared sheepish. He would have put her on Data-Pac anyway, he said. Elliott thought that was weird, but what did he know?

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2020-09-17]

JK Rowling's new book comes under fire AGAIN as readers brand the author 'patronising and deeply snobbish' for writing a working class character's dialogue differently

Character Janice speaks using working class dialect which is spelled differently.

Furious Twitter users quickly branded the Edinburgh-based writer 'patronising' and 'deeply snobbish'. An extract shared on Twitter by Nick revealed that a line in the book from a character called Janice reads: 'Well, 'e 'ad these 'ead pains and 'e was def'nitley nervous. Depressed maybe,' said Janice.'

[Mail_Online; London,_UK; 2020-09-17]

The Sydney school that bucked the trend and got boys to succeed in English

While many students struggle with writing, boys are twice as likely as girls to be near the bottom of the class. But Balgowlah Boys High is bucking that trend.

Yet when Paul Sheather became principal, almost 12 years ago, the school's students were well below the state average in reading and writing. His mission was to turn that around and nurture young men who were articulate, confident and literate. The first step was carving out 20 minutes a day for years 7 to 10 to focus on grammar, punctuation and spelling. But commas and apostrophes alone were not enough to ensure the boys could express their ideas clearly on a page.

[Sydney_Morning_Herald,_The; Sydney,_NSW,_AU; 2020-09-17]

Old English alphabet has SIX ‘lost letters’ that have vanished from our language

THE English alphabet used to have extra letters that have been lost as centuries went by.

While today our alphabet consists of 26 letters, the people of Middle Age Britain had an additional six characters to play around with. They formed part of the alphabet of Old English, the predecessor to Modern English used from roughly 1,000 years ago. Many are derived from old regional dialects, as well as other languages like Norman and Old Norse. Their influence was the result of invasions from the Vikings and (you guessed it) the Normans.

[Sun,_The; London,_UK; 2020-09-14]

Children’s Books: Bedtime Lessons for the Zoomed-Out Kid

When online learning can’t quite go the distance, consider these read-aloud nonfiction choices.

[subscription] If ever there were a time for parents to sneak a bit of education into storytime, this is it. Teachers may be knocking themselves out on Zoom, and bravo for that, but a face on the screen has yet to trump the power of an in-person read-aloud. So adding nonfiction to the bedtime mix is a wonderful way to enhance a child’s understanding while regular schooling is on the fritz.

[Wall_Street_Journal,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-09-11]

The English Language SUCKS

10 More Examples

How often do you blame yourself for that embarrassing spelling or grammar mistake on social media? Those trolls out there giving you a hard time are no help. Sure, it is important to pay attention to what you are writing. But it's not all your fault. English sucks. Especially American English.

[KGAB; Cheyenne,_WY,_US; 2020-09-09]

100 of the Most Commonly Misspelled Words in the English Language

Since many apps and programs now come with built-in spellcheckers to catch pesky errors—and even correct them automatically—you’re less likely to be embarrassed if you always forget how to spell embarrass.

[Mental_Floss; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-09-09]

Hamlet sufers out’raijuss forchun in attempt to reform standard English spelling

The “to be or not to be” soliloquy was chosen by the English Spelling Society as a passage from which people could suggest alternative spellings.

[subscription] The English Spelling Society has spent 112 years “taiking arms” against a “see of trubles”, in the belief that the irregularity of traditional spelling condemns millions of people to illiteracy. Now it is enlisting Hamlet’s soliloquy to suggest alternatives that could make written English easier to grasp. It has chosen six variations on the "To be or not to be" speech and is asking people to vote on which they prefer.

[Times,_The; London,_UK; 2020-09-09]

The Times view on reforming English spelling: Inglish Lessuns

Making spelling more phonetic has little prospect of success.

[subscription] Bough. Cough. Dough. Enough. Thorough. Thought. Through. To the despair of generations of English-language learners, and many native speakers of all ages, mastering English spelling is tuff, or rather, tough.

[Times,_The; London,_UK; 2020-09-09]

Two Bs or not two Bs: Can Hamlet teach our children to spell?

Shakespeare’s prince has been enlisted by a campaign to simplify written English. Is it just embarking on a sea of troubles?

Do say: “Too sleep, perchans too dreem, ie, thairz the rub.” Don’t say: “Actually, in this instance it may be nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2020-09-08]

English spelling campaigners enlist the help of Hamlet

Spelling campaigners are taking "arms against a sea of troubles" in the latest skirmish in a 100-year-old battle to make written English easier to grasp.

A study suggests English-speaking children may take twice as long to learn to read and write as speakers of more regular languages because the spellings are so variable. Now the English Spelling Society is using lines from Hamlet to demonstrate six spelling systems. And the public, particularly parents who have been trying to teach their children during lockdown, are invited to vote for a winner, to be promoted as the society's official alternative to traditional English spelling.

[BBC; London,_UK; 2020-09-08]

24 Strange Predictions For the 21st Century

Watkins, Jr. also believed that we’d completely get rid of the letters C, X, and Q. Instead, spelling would be based on sound alone, so those three letters would presumably be replaced by S’s and K’s.

[Mental_Floss; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-09-03]

Most Britons are not good spellers

I am one of the better spellers thanks to Miss Hosie, my primary school teacher. From what I have been able to observe, teachers like Miss Hosie no longer exist and spelling standards have fallen drastically in Britain and are getting worse. Some people have difficulty with ‘rain’, rein’ and ‘reign’ and for many ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ are interchangeable.

[Majorca_Daily_Bulletin; Palma_de_Mallorca,_ES; 2020-09-02]

How Will Language Change if Humans Travel the Stars?

Real-life interstellar travel will be so slow that some weird linguistic things may happen before ships reach their destinations.

Imagine it’s the year 2500, and scientists at some NASA-like space agency are waiting to hear back from the first colonists to ever travel to another planetary system. Suddenly, it arrives! It’s the first message from human beings to be warmed by another sun. There’s just one problem: The message is indecipherable. The colonists’ very language has mutated, and we Earthlings can no longer understand what they’re saying.

[Slate_Magazine; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-08-31]

American Teenager Rewrites Scottish Wikipedia in Mangled English

Either the entire Scottish Wikipedia should be deleted or all the articles will need to be edited one by one.

Most of us have done things that we thought were funny when we first got into the world of the internet, whether it was starting a blog, or just spending hours and days on online games. But it is pretty rare to make up a language to pass it off as Scottish and publish it for the entire world on Wikipedia. Yes, that's what a 12-year-old from the United States did back in 2013.

[Interesting_Engineering; San_Francisco,_CA,_US; 2020-08-27]

Most of Scottish Wikipedia Is Written By an American in Mangled English

Scots is an official language of Scotland. An administrator of the Scots Wikipedia page is an American who doesn't speak Scots but simply tries to write in a Scottish accent.

To take one example, the user's first article on the Human Development Index describes the HDI as "a composite statistic o life expectancy, eddication, an income indices tae rank kintras intae fower tiers o human development." It's simply "a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income indices to rank countries into four tiers of human development." This is simply English with strange misspellings.

[Vice; Brooklyn,_NY,_US; 2020-08-26]

Today I Learnt: Womxn And Womyn Mean Two Different Things

If you’re a social media addict like I am, chances are that you must have also come across words like ‘womyn’ and ‘womxn’.

In fact, in simple language ‘womyn’ and ‘womxn’ are two of the most commonly used substitutes to avoid using the suffix ‘-men’ at the end of the term ‘women’. This alternative spelling of the word [womyn] was introduced as a way to avoid the suffix ‘man,’ in protest of the biblical concept that women are simply subsets of men. It [womyn] became associated with the vein of feminism that did not view trans women as women because they were not born with female genitalia. The term ‘womxn’ was created to broaden the scope of womanhood. The Boston Globe calls the term [womxn] “a powerful, increasingly popular label, encompassing a broader range of gender identities than ‘woman’—or even older feminist terms such as ‘womyn’ … a nontraditional spelling for people whose gender identity doesn’t fit in the traditional boxes.” On our behalf, we should be willing to take that extra step to respect other people and their choices, value different traditions and understand the power of language and spelling.

[SheThePeople; Mumbai,_IN; 2020-08-25]

Queen's English Society bids to drop its royal name amid fears the title is 'elitist'

What will Her Majesty say?

The charity, which exists to promote the correct use of English and strives ‘to halt the decline in standards in its use’, is worried that including mention of the monarchy in its title may be ‘elitist’ and ‘outmoded’. A source tells me: ‘It’s the “Meghan effect”. The Duchess of Sussex has so annoyed some of our members, who are instinctive royalists, that it’s putting them off the monarchy altogether.’

[Mail_Online; London,_UK; 2020-08-20]

Lukashenka or Lukashenko?

Why Anglophone media use different spellings for the embattled Belarusian leader.

While media outlets such as The Guardian, The New York Times, and the BBC have been using the Russian-based romanisation, (Lukashenko), Radio Free Europe, which also broadcasts in Belarusian, uses the Belarusian version (Lukashenka). Interestingly, we've found one story by the New York Times from 2006 that used the Belarusian name Lukashenka. Moments such as these will continue to force editors across the world to consider to whom they are accountable — to state language policy, to the linguistic practices of a country's inhabitants, or to foreign readers who often know faraway places by entirely different, sometimes archaic, names? There are not always easy answers. But when the world's attention is fixed on a country which is unfamiliar, transparency is the best policy — allowing readers to understand how a single letter can matter.

[Global_Voices; Amsterdam,_NL; 2020-08-20]

Spelling bee goes ahead in Education Week

Bulahdelah Central School held its annual spelling bee during Education Week 2020, with students coming from every corner of the school to bravely face their peers and the formidable English language. She praised the students for their efforts to correctly spell words such as 'quadrangle', 'slaughter' and 'rhythm'.

[Great_Lakes_Advocate; Tuncurry,_NSW,_AU; 2020-08-16]

Woman spells 56 words backwards in 1 minute

Shared on the YouTube channel of Guinness World Records, the video shows the mind-boggling performance of Pam Onnen from the US.

“She literally just created a backward language that only she knows!” joked a Twitter user. “She had me, when she started everything backwards... But when she did the backwards-backwards thingy I died!” wrote another. “Me: struggling to spell it the right way,” confessed a third.

[Hindustan_Times; New_Delhi,_IN; 2020-08-14]

Tories Delete Tweet Criticising Scottish Exam Chaos After English Exam Chaos

Conservatives later reposted a tweet saying the SNP-led government had "shattered the life chances of thousands".

But after dozens of people pointed out the post had been deleted, it was shared again, with the incorrect spelling 'effected' replaced with 'affected'.

[Huffington_Post; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-08-13]

Consonants that went to wrack and ruin

Writewrongwristwrath – these are among the oldest words in English. But they’re very different than they were in Anglo-Saxon English.

By the 15th century, the w sound was disappearing, which led to a spelling free-for-all. If you weren’t pronouncing the w, then why use it? So wrong appeared as “rong” and wring as “ringe.” Conversely, if some r words began with a silent w, why not all of them? So “rathe” (an old word for “advice”) could be wrath, and “runkel” could be wrinkle.

[Christian_Science_Monitor,_The; Boston,_MA,_US; 2020-08-06]

Etymology gleanings for July 2020

The state of Spelling Reform.

If you are interested in the fate of Spelling Reform, please register (it is free). The more people, native speakers and foreigners, scholars and students, sign up, the better. Make your voice heard, regardless of your views on the Reform! A major media event is being planned for late July or early August (you will find the information in the Society’s blog). It is crucial for the success of the Reform to present the case, without alienating the wider public. We, who think that English spelling is a handicap to literacy, rather than being a window to it, hope that the Reform will do away with at least part of the rubbish which forms a barrier to mastering English everywhere. The world gleefully calls English spelling the most absurd ever and beyond redemption. Absurd it is, but, in our opinion, not beyond redemption. Sign up, voice your support or objections, but don’t sit on the fence, which is a fence to literacy.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-08-05]


Sometimes we simply cannot make our mouths behave.

Many people pronounce words incorrectly even though they know they’re saying them wrong. It’s just a brain thing. They can’t seem to conquer the tongue enough to say the word right.

[Arkansas_Democrat_Gazette; Little_Rock,_AR,_US; 2020-08-03]

Theatre vs. Theater- What's the Difference?

How do you spell it - theatre or theater?

According to Merriam-Webster, the word 'theater' came to the English language via Middle French (theatre), with roots in Latin (theatrum) and Greek (theatron). The same debate over the spelling of the word existed in England even centuries ago, as the French spelling (-re) fell in and out of fashion.

[Broadway_World; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-08-02]

Why Colonel is pronounced Kernel?

The French had borrowed them from the Italians, but in doing so, had changed colonello to coronel.

English spelling is bizarre. From the moment we learn about silent “e”, our expectations that sound and spelling should neatly match up begin to fade away, and soon we accept that ‘eight’ rhymes with ‘ate,’ ‘of’ rhymes with ‘love,’ and ‘to’ sounds like ‘too’ sounds like ‘two.’ We have resigned ourselves to the fact that there must be reasons like history, etymology and sound changing over time. But sometimes English takes it a step too far. For instance, “Colonel” is pronounced “kernel.”

[Telangana_Today; Hyderabad,_TG,_IN; 2020-07-31]

Spellquiz: FRY Sight Words And Spelling Quizzes

SpellQuiz is an online learning platform which offers the tools that improve learning of the students, in particular English language abilities. SpellQuiz is also an online spelling quiz platform that gives students the opportunity to learn and use spelling words. SpellQuiz is a helpful resource for students which provides records for every grade at school. Parents, teachers and students could acquire reviews after finishing each spelling exercise.

[Techkrest; Dresden,_ON,_CA; 2020-07-29]

Spelling matters, as any fule kno

How’s your spelling? Bad, fair, good? Few of us put up our hand and claim our spelling skills to be excellent.

Does it matter how you spell? Remember American vice-president Dan Quayle attending a spelling bee for 12-year-olds and writing “potatoe” on the blackboard? That was 28 years ago but he is still ridiculed.

[Courier,_The; Dundee,_UK; 2020-07-26]

The shadowlands of language

“Irregardless” is part of a penumbra of unorthodox English words.

[paywall] WHAT, THE actor Jamie Lee Curtis recently asked on Twitter, could make 2020 even more dismal? Her somewhat surprising answer: “Merriam-Webster just officially recognised ‘irregardless’ as a word.” A horrified emoji followed; 27,000 people signalled agreement with a “Like”. Many others tweeted independently about their dismay.

[Economist,_The; London,_UK; 2020-07-25]

According to Google, Colorado Struggles to Spell This Word

Recently Google collected data on the top "How do you spell..." searches in each state.

Words hold a fascination for all, from what they convey to the feelings and thoughts they evoke. Some may jog memories of incidents or events long past, while others forgotten throughout the years may be wholly new to some. When used correctly, a single word can slice through emotionally fraught situations. Or, when used incorrectly or at the wrong moment, that same word can supercharge an interaction, turning a mundane conversation into a conflagration of sentiment. Read on for the words—and the events that may have triggered them—that reached popularity the year you were born.

[Kool_107.9; Grand_Junction,_CO,_US; 2020-07-22]

Funny voices, tricky bits and looking for clues: the latest way to teach spelling at home

If you want to make up ground this summer for your child by teaching them to spell, here are the latest tricks to help them succeed.

[paywall] After months with no school and a long summer ahead, many parents are concerned that their children are falling behind in the basics. This comes on top of a national failure in children's literacy. Only 53% of pupils in the UK currently reach the expected standard in reading and writing.

[Telegraph,_The; London,_UK; 2020-07-14]

Etymology gleanings for June 2020

English spelling

Six alternative schemes have been offered for final debate, and the second Spelling Congress is being planned. Consult the website of THE ENGLISH SPELLING SOCIETY.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-07-08]

Beware of fraudulent individuals posing as organisers of Spelling Bee

YEF cautions Ghanaians

The organisers of The Spelling Bee-Gh, Young Educators Foundation (YEF) has cautioned the public about the activities of some fraudulent individuals posing as organisers of the renowned spelling contest.

[Joy_Online; Accra,_GH; 2020-07-02]

Stop politicizing education and start fixing it

An April 20 Reformer commentary praised public schools as "cornerstones of democracy and bedrocks of our communities." Facts suggest otherwise. Only one-third of US fourth graders read proficiently! Massachusetts leads at 46 percent, Vermont is at 40 percent. Only 15 percent of US eighth-graders are proficient in history; non-readers can't study history. Non-readers are poor students, withdrawn or disruptive, more likely to drop out. Most children in juvenile criminal court have reading problems; the great majority of men in prison are illiterate. A poor child's best hope of escaping poverty is learning to read, and we won't teach them.

[Battleboro_Reformer; Battleboro,_VT,_US; 2020-06-29]

‘Spelling the Dream’ lifts the lid on Indian-American success in US spelling bees

Netflix doc only scratches surface of reasons behind dominance of cultural institution.

There’s an infectious enthusiasm about the four kids who star in “Spelling the Dream” — director Sam Rega’s Netflix documentary exploring the dominance of Indian-American contestants in US spelling bees. These children, gifted as they are, appear to simply love being part of the inimitable North American spelling bee culture: they thrive on the pressure of the performance and find the kind of stoic dignity in defeat that would put many adults to shame.

[Arab_News; Riyadh,_SA; 2020-06-25]

Young Texans Keep Spelling Bees Going From Home

When the Scripps National Spelling Bee was canceled in March, two former competitors from The Woodlands stepped up to organize a virtual bee. Now, other bees are following suit

Shourav Dasari swivels his desk chair to face a computer monitor and begins scanning an enormous Excel spreadsheet, a cascading list of the spellings and roots of all 475,000 words in the dictionary.

[Texas_Observer,_The; Austin,_TX,_US; 2020-06-25]

After sharing the Scripps National Spelling Bee top prize, N.J. student shares the spotlight at the 2020 ESPYs

Christopher Serrao, 14, was featured in the ESPYs introductory video alongside the seven other "Octochamps" who shared the top prize in the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The spotlight was well-earned, Christopher stating that he used to devote up to four hours each weekday and seven each Saturday and Sunday to studying for the competition. “It’s a lot of pattern analysis, and learning about languages and their roots,” Christopher explained. “It’s kind of like a puzzle piece; you put together the different roots. And English is a very diverse language that draws from many other languages.”

[NJ; Iselin,_NJ,_US; 2020-06-24]

The blunt edge of “knife”

As could be expected, the origin of knife remains a matter of speculation.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-06-24]

TEFL/TESOL Accreditation for Teaching English

Though the English language may have slight differences in pronunciation and spelling based on its geographical origin, it is widely spoken globally for trade and beyond. This international acceptance of the English language attracts many to learn it not only for their day to day communication, but it also increases the demand for using professionally recognized English tutors.

[Ritz_Herald,_The; Brooklyn,_NY,_US; 2020-06-22]

Why Tamil Nadu govt decided to withdraw order changing names of over 1,000 places

The government decision had drawn flak from different corners.

A Tamil Nadu government order amending the English spelling of 1,018 cities and places or giving them a totally new official name has been withdrawn on Thursday following criticism from many language experts, historians and many Tamil people on social media for failing to keep a standard in the transliteration and new spellings.

[Indian_Express,_The; Noida,_UP,_IN; 2020-06-19]

An ‘istory of dropped aitches

The sound represented by our Latin-alphabet letter H has had a sorry history in the languages of Europe over the last 2,000 years or so.

Perhaps the decline started in Greek. The Ancient Greek words for ‘six’ and ‘seven’ were heks and heptá, respectively, as reflected in several modern English words which were borrowed from Ancient Greek, such as hexagonal, ‘six sided’ and heptathlon, ‘an athletic contest featuring seven different events’. But in the Modern Greek words for these two numerals, éksi and eftá, the h’s have gone; probably starting around 200 BC, all Greek h’s were dropped.

[New_European,_The; Norwich,_UK; 2020-06-19]

Only 10% English-speaking Population Criticised Rechristening of Places with Tamil Names: Minister

According to the withdrawn G.O, the textile city of Coimbatore was proposed to have been called Koyampuththoor, Vellore as Veeloor and Dindigul as Thindukkal among others.

The criticism over replacing anglicised versions of Tamil names of localities came from "a ten per cent population" that did not speak vernacular language, Tamil Nadu Minister K Pandiarajan said on Friday, a day after the government withdrew an order on it.

[News18; Noida,_UP,_IN; 2020-06-19]

TN has history of changing names, practices

From changing the name of the state in late 1960s and later the name of state capital, changing some Tamil syllables and now the spellings of some places, Tamil Nadu rulers continue to prove that change is the only constant in life.

[Outlook; New_Delhi,_IN; 2020-06-18]

The Bee Must Go On

Kaplan and Hexco Team Up to Hold Live, Online National Spelling Bee During Week of July 26.

Kaplan Inc., a premier provider of educational programs and services, has teamed up with Hexco, Inc., DBA Hexco Academic, to co-host a national online spelling bee during the week of July 26, 2020. The bee will provide an opportunity for the nation’s top spellers to compete online, giving priority to eighth-grade students who were scheduled to spell at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which was cancelled due to COVID-19. Hexco, a 50-year-old company, has provided materials for National Spelling Bee contestants for 38 years.

[Business_Wire; San_Francisco,_CA,_US; 2020-06-16]

From Sayyad Shah Pet to Saithappettai?

Tamil Nadu’s latest renaming spree lacks logic.

Take for instance Nandambakkam – why is it Nandhambaakkam in column ‘a’ while it is Nandambaakkam in column ‘b’? On the other hand, Adambakkam is Aadambaakkam is column ‘a’ while it is Aadhambaakkam in column ‘b’! The options for the two places completely contradict the naming logic when the pronunciations are the same in Tamil. Was the addition of an ‘h’ meant to indicate a soft ‘d’? If so, why is it there for one and not the other? And let us also add here that the correct suffix in both cases ought to have been Pakkam and not Bakkam as there is no such word in Tamil.

[Citizen_Matters; Bengaluru,_KA,_IN; 2020-06-15]

Why do Indian-Americans dominate the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the US?

Filmmaker Sam Rega tracks four winners in his Netflix documentary Spelling the Dream to find the answer.

It was in 2015 when Rega’s colleague Chris Weller, an avid follower of the national championship and also the producer of the film, told him about this intriguing trend. “At that time there were just eight winners in a row but he noticed it was growing year after year and when he told me there is something going on here, and we have a trend brewing, that I realised not much had been written or documented about this. That was a jump off for us on whether we could tell this as a documentary,” says Rega.

[Indian_Express,_The; Noida,_UP,_IN; 2020-06-14]

Simple, yet complex

Always follow a ‘q’ with a ‘u’ and remember ‘I before E, except after C’. Simple? Well, actually no.

English is indeed a funny language. Most often, the spelling of a word does not match its pronunciation. One reason for this is that there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet. In order to be able to read English, a wide variety of sounds have to be produced with the help of these limited number of letters.

[Hindu,_The; Madras,_IN; 2020-06-13]

Are Indians incapable of pronouncing multi-syllabic words?

There is no reason to believe that all Indians cannot enunciate place names the way as they were originally intended.

Tamil Nadu’s decision to change the ‘English’ spellings of 1,018 places to bring them in line with their local pronunciation is unexceptionable. There is no reason to believe that all Indians cannot enunciate place names the way as they were originally intended. After all, Indians do not have the excuse that the British had — of being familiar only with English names and, therefore, incapable of getting their tongues around anything multi-syllabic.

[Economic_Times,_The; Mumbai,_IN; 2020-06-13]

Loose and Lose

This week’s question comes from Vukeni of South Sudan.

What is the difference between “loose” and “lose”? This morning, I heard some people debating about it.

[Voice_of_America; Washington,_DC,_US; 2020-06-12]

Thamizh Naaduu govt alterz English namez of 1,018 playcez in the state

Coimbatore is now KOYAMPUTHTHOOR.

[satire] The news came as a surprise to many as the Government Order, notified on April 1, was made public on Wednesday evening. As many as 1,018 places will now have the new spellings. While most districts have not undergone name changes, many historic areas in Chennai city have had their English spellings changed to reflect the multiple oo’s and aa’s of the ancient language.

[News_Minute,_The; Bengaluru,_KA,_IN; 2020-06-11]

Etymology gleanings for May 2020

English spelling.

I promised not to return to Spelling Reform and will be true to my word. The animated discussion of a month ago (see the comments following the April gleanings) is instructive, and I’ll only inform the contributors to that exchange that nothing they wrote is new.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-06-11]

Review of ‘Spelling The Dream’ Documentary on Indian American Spelling Champs

Fine, But What After We Wake Up From It?

So, basically, the 82-minute documentary talks of Spelling Bees, big in America, and how Indian kids of all ages and diverse origins (though significantly, many are South Indians!) have a mastery over them. That mastery has translated into a near-monopoly of Indian Americans for the past decade, and we see how it all silently, slowly and subtly started out in the mid-1990s.

[India_West; San_Leandro,_CA,_US; 2020-06-11]

Tamil Nadu minister says names of places with wrong spellings in notification will be corrected

The announcement in this regard was made in December 2018 but hough the government order for the changed names was issued on April 1, the government has released it only on June 10.

Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, K Pandiarajan said on Thursday that "the names of Vellore and Erode for which wrong spelling is given in the notification issued for changing the names of 1,018 places would be corrected".

[New_Indian_Express,_The; New_Delhi,_IN; 2020-06-11]

Phonetics match: Many TN towns, areas get new English spellings

The Tamil Nadu government has notified the new spellings for the names of the cities, towns and localities that are phonetically in sync with their original Tamil name.

Next time when you see the name of a city or town in Tamil Nadu spelt differently, don't think it has something to do with numerology, but it is actually phonetics that is behind the change. And the citizens have to learn the new spellings of the city/town/locality where they live.

[Tribune,_The; Chandigarh,_IN; 2020-06-11]

Coimbatore becomes Koyampuththoor after rechristening exercise

Koyampuththoor — this is how Coimbatore will be described hereafter in all new official documents and nameboards. As part of the drive to rechristen anglicised place names, the English spelling of 40 places in the district, including the district’s name, have been changed to match their Tamil pronunciation. This was notified in the state gazette on April 1. Apart from the spelling of the district’s name, those of 39 other places have been tweaked to suit their actual pronunciation.

[Times_of_India,_The; Mumbai,_IN; 2020-06-10]

At 13, the Australian Spelling Bee twins have become entrepreneurs with edtech platform Classminds

Harpita and Harpith Pandian, who became world-famous eight-year-olds, after their performance in the Australian Spelling Bee in 2015, are now 13-year-old intrepid entrepreneurs all set to make an impact on the edtech scene with Classminds.

In 2015, twins Harpita and Harpith Pandian became popularly known as “The Great Australian Spelling Twins,” winning hearts globally for their spelling skills, self-confidence, and attitude at the tender age of eight. spelling bee twins Harpita and Harpith Harpit and Harpith Pandian, the Founders of Classminds. The show aired on Australia’s Channel 10 showcased them as an inspiration all over the world, and with an impressive vocabulary of 50,000 words, the twins became household names in Australia.

[Your_Story; Bengaluru,_KA,_IN; 2020-06-08]

Spelling the Dream examines spellers of a polyglot persuasion

Spelling the Dream takes a slightly different angle on the subject, aiming to figure out why Indian-Americans, who make up about 1 percent of the U.S. population, so dominate the annual bee. Twenty-six of the last 31 winners, including the last 12, were of Indian descent.

[Calgary_Herald; Calgary,_Alberta,_CA; 2020-06-05]

Spelling The Dream

Netflix docu film on desi success at spelling bee is gripping but limited.

Picture a group of children, aged anywhere between seven and 14, brows furrowed, faces screwed up in concentration, carefully spelling out loud, to an audience, words like promyshlennik, scolecomorphidae, chryselephantine, durchkomponiert and others that you have never heard and will never use in your life. This hardly sounds like a thrilling event that will have you at the edge of your seat, biting your nails, gripping your head in your hands if they get one letter wrong or whooping with joy when they don’t. But that is precisely what happens while watching Spelling The Dream. Directed by Sam Rega, Netflix’s new documentary dives into a phenomenon that is fascinating in its scope — the domination of Indian-born American children at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, arguably the most famous and prestigious spelling competition in the world.

[Print,_The; New_Delhi,_IN; 2020-06-03]

The 11 words most commonly misspelled in Google searches

The 11 words most commonly misspelled in Google searches have been revealed - and they are less complicated than you might think. 'Separate' is the word most frequently entered incorrectly into the search engine, with the misspelling 'seperate' entered 92,000 times in the last month alone. 'Questionnaire' appears at number three on the list with 'potato' - often wrongly spelled with an extra 'e' on the end - in fourth.

[Mail_Online; London,_UK; 2020-06-03]

School bee winners honored

The Japan Times has been sending the best speller of Japan’s English spelling contest to the United States to compete in the U.S. national finals every year since 2010. But this year, the spread of the novel coronavirus forced the 11th Japan Spelling Bee, which was originally scheduled to be held in Tokyo on March 7, to be canceled.

[Japan_Times,_The; Tokyo,_JP; 2020-06-01]

Shout invective, bray support . . . but surely they could spell Dominic Cummings’ name correctly

There’s been a chap in the news most of the past week. Open a newspaper he’s in it, turn on a television he’s on it.

It takes a special command of language to not spell Dominic Cummings’ name correctly. It’s hardly been difficult to spot recently. And to put up a poster without bothering to check the spelling of the message you are promulgating, frankly . . . I was about to say it beggars belief. But, sadly, it doesn’t. There, for all to see, is the state of the English language in the 21st Century. An uncaring attitude, a complete ignorance of correct spelling [no full stop - sic]

[Courier,_The; Dundee,_UK; 2020-05-31]

The Norwegian Alphabet

The Norwegian alphabet has three extra vowels that English speakers must master. Here's everything you need to know about Norway's 29-letter alphabet.

It might be a surprise to some, but the Norwegian alphabet is slightly different from the English one. Whereas the Latin-based modern English alphabet has 26 letters, the Norwegian version has 29.

[Life_in_Norway; Trondheim,_NO; 2020-05-27]

The Scripps spelling bee is off this year, but the controversy over including foreign words is still on

The social and professional benefits of spelling bees are hard to ignore. The participants, including many from immigrant families, develop skills of grit and performance, and they and their parents form new social networks. An entire industry has emerged surrounding the preparation of elite contestants.

[Conversation,_The; London,_UK; 2020-05-21]

Grey vs. Gray: Which is Correct?

Is one of these spellings correct and the other wrong—or is there a gray area? (Or perhaps a grey one?)

“Gray” and “grey” are two different ways of spelling the word; neither is technically “right.” There’s no difference in its meanings, and each comes from the same word: the Old English “grǽg.” Throughout the 14th century, examples appear of the word being spelled as both “greye” and “graye” in prominent works of literature, according to Grammarly.

[Reader's_Digest; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-05-18]

Michigan Agrees to Aid Detroit Schools With $100 Million in Dedicated Literacy Funds After Courts Agree With New Legal Theory That Students Have Right to Read

“The history of education in the United States … demonstrates a substantial relationship between access to education and access to economic and political power, one in which race-based restrictions on education have been used to subjugate African Americans,” wrote United States Circuit Judge Eric Clay.

[74,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-05-14]


Dublin seventh-grader wins county spelling bee, qualifies for state championship

Win or lose, it would be a great experience,' Joshi says.

"Winning county felt amazing," Joshi told the Weekly. "I couldn't believe that I'd won because I didn't think I'd studied hard enough, but it was really an amazing experience. Even if I'd lost, it would've been amazing just to be on stage."

[Pleasanton_Weekly; Pleasanton,_CA,_US; 2020-05-13]

Witch word is which

An over complication of the English language.

Humanity has come a long way since we lit that first bonfire. We’ve built civilization as we know it, created technological advancements and perfected yelling at each other through the safety of Facebook. And yet the English language is stupid. You heard … er, read me. Stupid.

[Austin_Daily_Herald; Austin,_MN,_US; 2020-05-09]

Elon Musk and Grimes named their baby in honor of the 'coolest plane ever'

It shouldn't be a surprise that there's an aerospace connection.

"Æ" needs a bit of explanation as well. This "ligature," a combination of "a" and "e," was a letter of the Old English Latin alphabet and remains a recognized letter in Norwegian, Danish and some other languages. We still come across it in English from time to time, in old-fashioned spellings such as "archæology" and "mediæval."

[Space; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-05-08]

Homonyms, homophones, homographs and other confusions

The English language has many words that sound the same when spoken but have differing meanings. Some words are spelled the same but have different meanings based on the context the words are used in. Still other words are pronounced the same but are spelled differently and then there are words that have different pronunciations and meanings but are spelled the same.

[Champion,_The; Decatur,_GA,_US; 2020-05-07]

From Googling ‘How to spell dinosaur’ to ‘I can’t do fractions’ – mums share their most embarrassing homeschooling fails

MUMS and dads are waking up to the fact in 2020 their kids are smarter than they are.

“I've had to regularly Google words like 'dinosaur' (forgetting if it's 'soar' or 'saur'), 'weird' thinking it's spelt 'wierd', 'grateful', thinking its greatful and wondering why it doesn't look right and even how to spell 'until' thinking it had two L's at the end. “There are about 20 other words a man of my age should really know. The really ironic thing is I run a company help others with learning.”

[Sun,_The; ; 2020-05-07]

Elon Musk authors the craziest celebrity baby name to date

The South African billionaire became a father to his sixth child, the first to be named without using an actual word.

[paywall] However, billionaire Elon Musk and his partner Grimes have taken things to a new level of absurdity, announcing that they have decided to name their son “X Æ A-12”, sparking immediate confusion and disbelief. Musk added to the bizarre situation by tweeting a picture of his new son with tattoos photoshopped onto his face.

[Telegraph,_The; London,_UK; 2020-05-06]

Etymology gleanings for April 2020

Even those who favor the idea of the Reform will never agree on what should change and in what order changes should be instituted.

However, when it comes to English spelling, any reform will be better than what we now have.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-05-06]

I'm throwing out my dictionary – we should all spell like our kids

I'm throwing out my dictionary – we should all spell like our kids.

[paywall] I love the way small children spell. And not just because it’s cute. Somehow, spelling everything as it sounds makes what they’ve written seem more honest, sincere, heartfelt. And anyway, it’s logical. The rules of spelling in English are absurdly inconsistent, and often bear little relation to the way people speak.

[Telegraph,_The; London,_UK; 2020-05-01]

When Schools Stopped Teaching Standard English

The core idea among many educators is that we shouldn’t stigmatize regional and class speech habits because that’s equivalent to teaching children that their parents are uneducated or socially unacceptable. Given that most children learn language from their parents, linguistic correction would supposedly damage those children’s self-esteem.

[National_Review; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-04-30]


Spelling reform

Not a “lafing” matter

Now let us look at some substantive problems. The ideal—to emulate the Finnish model (write what you hear)—is unachievable for Present Day English, and this is fine: there is no need to hitch our wagon to such a distant star. Yet some changes would be almost painless.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-04-29]

Some thoughts from the Coronabunker

Roosevelt was a fan of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie’s “Simplified Spelling Board,” an effort by Carnegie to create one worldwide language, which he believed would go a long way in promoting world peace. Under this “simplification by omission,” the word “missed” became “mist,” “enough” was “enuf,” and so on. Roosevelt signed an Executive Order to make the new English the law of the land. Until the Court of Public Opinion had its say.

[Ledger_Independent,_The; Maysville,_KY,_US; 2020-04-25]

Phonics sessions help to parents during closures

Former Ashville College student, Katie Higham, has been running free Phonics sessions to help parents during school closures.

For the first two weeks of school closures, Katie ran Facebook Live Phonic sessions aimed at three-six-year-olds to help parents who are at home trying to home school their children.

[Harrogate_Advertiser; Harrowgate,_UK; 2020-04-23]

Homeschooling during lockdown: BBC Bitesize and other best online resources for parents

These are the educational tools you need to make teaching from home a breeze.

If you're looking to brush up your child’s spelling but aren't sure where to start, Spelling Training is a simple-to-navigate tool to aid you when teaching children in KS1 and KS2.

[Independent; London,_UK; 2020-04-22]

Twenty Years After the National Reading Panel, It’s Time for a Reading Rights Movement

Though it got lost in the glut of pandemic news, last week marked the 20th anniversary of the seminal National Reading Panel report.

Despite the clarity of the NRP’s determinations, we are still facing the same literacy challenges two decades later. We have continued to fail at improving the teaching and learning of reading. More than a third of our fourth-graders still can’t read at grade level, according to national tests, with the numbers even more dire when it comes to African-American, Latino and low-income students. As highlighted by journalists such as APM Reports’ Emily Hanford, although we may know how to effectively teach virtually all children to successfully read, we simply aren’t putting that knowledge to work in our teacher education programs and elementary school classrooms.

[74,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-04-21]

Oh my word!

There’s something missing from the Government’s virus instructions.

I have never understood why colonies folk omit prepositions and conjunctions from sentences: “Monday thru Thursday”, for instance. But then, just looking at “thru” reminds me that their spelling is even worse than their word-dropping.

[Courier,_The; Dundee,_UK; 2020-04-19]

Tyre & Weinberg

During Pandemic, Parents Are Learning Their Kids Can’t Write Very Well. The Secret: They Weren’t Taught How. Some Strategies to Help.

The second thing parents might notice is that their kids likely can’t write very well. To be sure, they are not alone. Only 1 in 4 eighth- and 12th-graders can write at a level the federal government deems “proficient.” As for advanced writers, their numbers are very small indeed and mostly clustered in affluent schools.

[74,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-04-15]

These Languages Are The Easiest For English-Speakers To Learn

According to the language gurus at Babbel, these are the easiest languages for anyone to learn.

Norwegian Is The Easiest Language For English-Speakers.

[Travel,_The; Montreal,_QC,_CA; 2020-04-12]

Read my lips: how lockdown TV could boost children’s literacy

Campaigners call on broadcasters and streamers to seize the moment to switch on subtitles for kids’ programming.

An urgent call is to go out to children’s television broadcasters this weekend, backed by major names in British entertainment, politics and technology. Writer and performer Stephen Fry, best-selling author Cressida Cowell and businesswoman Martha Lane Fox are joined by former children’s television presenter Floella Benjamin as signatories to a letter, carried in today’s Observer, that urges all leading streaming, network and terrestrial children’s channels to make one simple change to boost literacy among the young: turn on the subtitles.

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2020-04-12]


Kids Quiz

Test your Liverpool-related spelling.

There are always names, places and stadiums which can test anyone’s ability to spell it correctly, and here we have put together a spelling quiz for the younger fans in our ranks.

[This_is_Annfield; Liverpool,_UK; 2020-04-10]

A(n) historical take on the evolving use of a/an

English speakers disagree – sometimes vehemently – about how to use “historic” and “historical” with the indefinite articles a/an.

The difficulty dates back to the Norman Conquest of England, in 1066. Before William the Conqueror invaded, Old English was chock-full of guttural h’s, as in the first word of the poem “Beowulf”: “Hwaet!” (What!) The language of the conquerors, Norman French, was full of h’s, too, but only when written down.

[Christian_Science_Monitor,_The; Boston,_MA,_US; 2020-04-09]

How the Oxford English Dictionary was brought to life in a rustic 'scriptorium'

Just to work from "A" to "ant" took the original Oxford English Dictionary team around 10 years.

There had been a "go-to" wordlist, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, since 1755. But Williams says it included made-up definitions and idiosyncratic spelling, and was "completely incomplete". The Philological Society of London decided they needed a better dictionary — one that documented every single word in the English language — and appealed to the Oxford University Press to fund it.

[ABC_News; Sydney,_NSW,_AU; 2020-04-09]

Curriculum Case Study

How One District Tackled 38% Reading Proficiency With Content-Rich Curriculum — ‘It Feels as Though the Ship Has Turned.’

A first-grade classroom in Putnam County would have looked very different four years ago. Phonics instruction would not have been explicit, systematic or even consistent from one class to the next, whether down the hall or across the district. Our teachers were spending a majority of their time searching for resources to teach the standards, rather than relying on a strong curriculum to do that work for them. They dedicated so much time to figuring out what to teach, they didn’t have time left to perfect their practice.

[74,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-04-07]


I suppose you could TRY to baton down the hatches.

This week I read an article that was supposed to be stirring and uplifting, but urged us to “baton down the hatches and stay safe”. That’s batten, not baton. I was stirred, but not uplifted.

[Courier,_The; Dundee,_UK; 2020-04-05]

From online classes to fun games

35 apps and services you can now download for free – or a hefty discount.

An award-winning English spelling app, Sir Linkalot, has made its app free of charge.

[National,_The_(AE); Abu_Dhabi,_AE; 2020-03-27]

DuPage County spelling bee champion hopes to carry on family legacy in Scripps National Spelling Bee

Atman Balakrishnan, 13, is studying for the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

"English is a very interesting language, in that it doesn't follow normal phonetics or any sort of rules," said Atman. Atman uses an etymological approach to studying. He learns roots and spellings in each language, then memorizes the exceptions to each rule. The studying regiment involves regular scheduling from his mom, and tutoring help from parents, grandparents and his nanny.

[abc_7; Chicago,_IL,_US; 2020-03-24]

10 best educational apps for kids: Digital learning resources for children

From comprehensive learning apps to fun educational ones, we've compiled a list for you here.

Spelling Stage. This app claims to be 'one of the greatest spelling apps' created for educational and family entertainment, perfect for users over the age of four. Free, with in app purchases, on iOS.

[Evening_Standard; London,_UK; 2020-03-23]

The battle for English

[audio] The English language has long been accustomed to global dominance. Once the language of Empire, it is now the language of business. politics, academia, technology and even popular culture and sport. Lexicographer Susie Dent leaves Countdown’s Dictionary Corner to investigate the global dominance of English in a rapidly changing world.

[BBC; London,_UK; 2020-03-23]

So close!

Eighth grader places second in regional spelling bee.

Joshua said both his mother, Doris Bosco, and stepfather, Peter Vadamanikam, were very supportive of his participation in the spelling bee, and he practiced spelling words one to two hours a night beginning long before the competition. In fact, Joshua remembers Vadamanikam saying, “Where’s that list?” as the trio headed out to dinner one night. Spelling “comes very naturally to him,” Bosco said.

[Las_Cruces_Bulletin,_The; Las_Cruces,_NM,_US; 2020-03-20]

National Spelling Bee called off because of coronavirus

If possible, the Bee will explore options to reschedule for later this year.

Most spellers who succeed on the national level devote years of their lives to mastering the dictionary and learning roots and language patterns. They have a narrow window to excel, with the bee open to kids only through the eighth grade. "Winning the National Spelling Bee has been my dream for the last three years and I think this year I have a real shot at it," Navneeth said. "I've spent so many hours and made so many sacrifices in order to see this dream come true."

[KVAL; Eugene,_OR,_US; 2020-03-20]

Here's Proof That the English Language Is Super Hard and Makes No Sense

None of these words rhyme: though, through, tough, bough, cough.

Last but certainly not least, and honestly, not even really last, the fact that "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a full sentence is definitive proof that the English language makes little sense.

[Distractify; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-03-18]

United States vs. Britain: Who spells better?

Before spelling was standardized, there were often multiple ways to spell the same word. Authors had to decide which spellings they preferred. Jane Austen, for instance, favored “shew” and “chuse” to the now-conventional “show” and “choose.”

[Daily_Californian,_The; Berkely,_CA,_US; 2020-03-14]

‘Toxophilite’ wins Sacramento spelling bee for Roseville 8th-grader

Next up, Washington.

“Nobody’s really naturally good at anything. You just sort of have to study it and do more of patterns and roots than memorization, because one root can get you say, like 10 words and memorizing can get you like two if there’s an adjective and a noun form,” Lynch said.

[Sacramento_Bee,_The; Sacramento,_CA,_US; 2020-03-10]

St. John's Prep's seventh-grader with 'superpower' for spelling to compete in national bee

Ben St. Hilaire smiles next to his trophies earned in spelling bees Thursday, March 5, 2020, at his home in St. Cloud.

Most of the time, Ben said, he practices from memory, without writing the words down. Sitting at the family's kitchen table, they would go over word after word. If Ben misspelled one, Lexy would mark it wrong and go over it again, she said.

[St_Cloud_Times; St_Cloud,_MN,_US; 2020-03-08]

Kids praised on spelling techniques despite social media use

“Young people are extremely dextrous and actively switch between text-speak and formal language.”

When young people abbreviate words or incorporate numbers into their texts or social media posts, they are participating in an evolving culture of online language that is, by nature, separate from school or formal settings. “The meaning of a text is not lost through use of informal language; if it is lost on you, then that suggests an issue of comprehension rather than an innate lack of clarity in the text itself,” Ms Mendel said.

[Kidspot; Surry_Hills,_NSW,_AU; 2020-03-08]

Mesita Elementary School student spells 'montage' to win 2020 El Paso Regional Spelling Bee

Her fear going into that round was the words wouldn't be those in the "Words of the Champions" practice book for the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. "Montage," which can mean the combination of different elements to form a unified whole, is one of the 4,000 words in the book.

[El_Paso_Times; El_Paso,_TX,_US; 2020-03-07]

The furious debate over how to spell fracking

Members of the industry insist the word should be spelled without the “k” as “fracing.”

[Houston_Chronicle; Houston,_TX,_US; 2020-03-06]

A Legal Right to Literacy

10 Kids Sued California for Failing to Teach Them to Read. Could Their Settlement Set a Precedent for Other Struggling Schools?

As a second-grader, a Los Angeles girl identified as Ella T. wrote to the governor of California asking for help for her school, LaSalle Elementary. Carefully and neatly written with a rainbow array of markers, it’s unintelligible. “Der Governor,” reads the letter, now an exhibit in Ella T. v. California, a suit filed on behalf of the girl and nine other Southern California children. “I can improve the school. supplies eras piso cupiso. shrpo pars yes. I ned eshu hlpe.”

[74,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-03-03]

John Eoh from Discovery Elementary School is Kern County's 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion

34 students competed at the 2020 Kern County Scripps National Spelling Bee.

"Basically every day my mom or dad they would like give me the word and I would have to spell it," Eoh said. "We would do that every day, and after a while I kind of got the hang of it".

[KERO-TV; Bakersfield,_CA,_US; 2020-03-02]

Telegram Spelling Bee champ had a leg up on the competition in St. John's

Julia Evans takes to Holy Heart Theatre stage with broken ankle.

“When she broke her ankle last week, we were saying, ‘Oh, no,’ but she said, ‘Miss, my ankle’s broken, not my brain. I’m good to go.’”

[Chronicle_Herald,_The; Halifax,_NS,_CA; 2020-03-01]

Children are reading less than ever before, research reveals

Just a quarter of under-18s read each day, study shows in run-up to World Book Day

The poet and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen said the findings should act as a wake-up call for the government. “We have countless examples of research showing that children who read for pleasure widely and often are best able to benefit from what education offers. Berating parents, children or teachers for ‘failing’ will solve nothing. It [improving reading levels] needs full government backing, with as much money and effort as they put into compulsory phonics teaching, to support schools and communities in this.”

[Guardian,_The; London,_UK; 2020-02-29]

2020 Spelling bee results: Auburn sixth grader Emma Sroka wins for the second consecutive year

To prepare, Sroka studied words from past competitions as well as the Merriam Webster Unabridged Dictionary and SpellPundit. She also consulted “Words of Wisdom,” a book written by former contestant Scott Remer who placed 34th and 4th in the national competition.

[Syracuse; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-02-29]

Spelling Revolution, entertaining history

“An Inconvenient Alphabet” by Beth Anderson and Elizabeth Baddeley

“An Inconvenient Alphabet: Benjamin Franklin & Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution” by Beth Anderson and illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley have created a wonderful children’s book to explore the fascinating (and little-known) history of American English.​

[Garden_Island,_The; Lihue,_HI,_US; 2020-02-28]

Don’t Pick Your Nose, 15th-Century Manners Book Warns

The taboo on booger hunting stretches back centuries, reveals a book recently digitized by the British Library.

“Pyke notte thyne errys nothyr thy nostrellys,” it exhorts. (We’ll save you the Middle English to modern American English Google Translate search: “Don’t pick your ears or nostrils.”)

[Smithsonian; Washington,_DC,_US; 2020-02-27]

Etymology gleanings for January and February 2020

In hence and thence, the historically correct spelling would be hens and thens, because s in them is the ancient ending of the genitive case, which in those words acquired an adverbial function.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-02-26]

Children of migrants do better in school than English-speaking students

Children of migrants are outperforming English-speaking students in writing and spelling.

[audio] Last year’s NAPLAN results show children from non-English speaking backgrounds performed better than other students in almost every grade. Mark Latham tells Ben Fordham a family’s work ethic is behind the results. “Parents who read books to their children when they’re young, parents who take an interest in the homework… those students do a lot better.

[2GB; Pyrmont,_NSW,_AU; 2020-02-25]

We Can’t Teach Love But We Can Teach Reading

Teachers can speak a lot of things into existence (a quiet line in the hallway, students sitting “criss, cross, applesauce”) but a love of reading isn’t one of them.

Enthusiasm is a part of good teaching, but communicating a love of books isn’t the same thing as teaching reading. I learned that the hard way.

[Right_to_Read_Project,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-02-25]

30 Students to Compete in 32nd Annual Anne Arundel County Spelling Bee

Twenty public school students and 10 private school students will vie to become the champion of the 32nd annual Anne Arundel County Spelling Bee on February 29, 2020.

The champion of the county bee wins an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

[Bay_Net,_The; Hollywood,_MD,_US; 2020-02-24]

Rotherham: Phonics. Whole Language. Balanced Literacy. The Problem Isn’t That We Don’t Know How to Teach Reading — It’s Politics

Policymakers are focusing on the craft of teaching reading. They must also focus on the politics.

Literacy is power. Deny people access to the written word, ideas, debate and dissent, and you deny them freedom, agency, liberty — even humanity. Unfortunately, national data show we do that systematically.

[74,_The; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-02-23]

Just 1 school shows up for Eastern bee

To’hajiilee Community School was the only school to compete at the Eastern Agency Navajo Times-Navajo Nation Spelling Bee held in Crownpoint last Thursday.

I had four schools originally but only one showed up,” said Pablo. “I think language overall is why spelling bees are important. English being the primary language, and for them to go to college they have to learn how to read, how to write, and how to use vocabulary.”

[Navajo_Times; Window_Rock,_AZ,_US; 2020-02-20]

Phonetics, a smoother road for kids to learn English

When Tanuja watched her son, a kindergartner, struggling to read English she decided to enrol him for phonetics classes.

Shalini Nahata, a former phonetics teacher said, ”Children would go from not being able to read words to reading books. Once children start reading, they don’t stop. They would read to themselves, their parents and siblings out of excitement.”

[New_Indian_Express,_The; New_Delhi,_IN; 2020-02-19]

The case for spelling

I search tirelessly for multisensory ways to practice the eight long sound spellings for the vowel e.

I am fascinated by the history of silent letters and the schwa in English. I search tirelessly for multisensory ways to practice the eight long sound spellings for the vowel e. The history of English was shaped by invaders with other languages, and knowing the origin of words can help us read and spell correctly. The study of Latin and Greek roots provides information about meaning and spelling that can be generalized to groups of words.

[Daily_Hampshire_Gazette; Northampton,_MA,_US; 2020-02-19]

Mongrel Tongue – Is English Really So Special?

John Mitchinson on why we should celebrate the success of the flexibility of the English language which enables its richness.

One of the persistent complaints about English by those trying to learn it, is the gulf that exists between pronunciation and spelling. This is in part because the invention of the printing press in the late 15th Century coincided with a phenomenon known as the Great Vowel Shift, which was causing profound changes in pronunciation.

[Byline_Times; London,_UK; 2020-02-17]

Ask An Italian: Dyslexia In Italian And English

When “ghost” is pronounced “fish” — a problem for dyslexics

The language where people live makes the greatest difference. “English, with its notoriously fickle spelling, may be the most daunting.” Italy, with a different language, has “only half the incidence [of dyslexia] found in the United States, where an estimated 5 to 15 percent of the population may have it to some degree.”

[Italics_Magazine; Rome,_IT; 2020-02-14]

South Plainfield Fourth and Fifth Graders Compete in 6th Annual Spelling Bee

A total of 19 South Plainfield students put their knowledge of the English language to the test on Feb. 5 in the borough’s 6th Annual Spelling Bee.

This year’s contestants correctly spelled over 100 grade-appropriate words, including but not limited to, lonesome, Pennsylvania, grasshopper, scribe, understand, macaroni, automobile, eighteen, landscape, describe, loneliness, televise, defroster, and permanent. Trickier words, such as tactics, aardvark, camouflage, receipt, and spaghetti also came into play and, in the end, Aryan took first place, correctly spelling of both rabble and acquainted.

[Tap_Into; New_Providence,_NJ,_US; 2020-02-14]

Rei wins North Smithfield Spelling Bee

After three years as a finalist, 8th-grader Gracie Rei has claimed the title of North Smithfield Spelling Bee Champion.

The bee went on for 11 rounds, and students were asked to spell many difficult words, including regulatory, structural and contemplate. Rei placed first after correctly spelling discrepancy and attainment. Boutelle is the runner up.

[Valley_Breeze,_The; Lincoln,_RI,_US; 2020-02-12]

Elementary Students Ready For County Spelling Bee

Fairfield Elementary fourth-grader Christian Moy says some of the words for the spelling bee are "out of this world."

Christian says he’s excited to compete in the Allen County Bee, but he wonders if the amount of time going into it is worth it for him. “Here’s the truth, yeah I am excited but I don’t know if it’s ever worth it. ‘Cause, like, I practice spelling a lot. But, practice makes perfect.”

[WBOI; Fort_Wayne,_IN,_US; 2020-02-12]

Spelling Bee back again

Much acclaimed television show for school-goers -- Spelling Bee -- is back once again.

“A new generation, full of new skill sets, will be created before our very eyes. The experience obtained from the Spelling Bee will not only help the students in the country, but also help them shine worldwide,” Shykh Seraj said. Firoz Ahmed said the Spelling Bee is a platform to groom our students as future leaders.

[Daily_Star,_The; Dhaka,_BD; 2020-02-11]

On spelling bee contest!

Spelling is crucial in helping students improve reading skills, expand vocabularies and build English skills.

It is clear that teaching methods in our classrooms at primary levels are handicapping a large percentage of students and these require greater investment. Without early childhood development programmes, low quality teaching practices and poor school management, a significant number of students will be left behind as they grow older.

[Point,_The; Banjul,_GM; 2020-02-11]

How dyspraxia changed young writer’s life

According to the NHS, dyslexia is a learning difficulty that can cause problems with a person’s reading, writing and spelling.

Fermanagh native Kylie Noble (25) was diagnosed with both dyslexia and dyspraxia at the age of 21 whilst she was studying a masters in journalism at the University of Sheffield. Also working as a freelance journalist at the time, Kylie explained that her diagnoses came as a shock.

[Impartial_Reporter,_The; High_Wycombe,_UK; 2020-02-10]

11 reasons why the English language is difficult to learn

The English language has a lot of weird spelling, grammar, and pronunciation rules.

Words that look the same can be pronounced differently, and words that sounds the same can be spelled differently. Some letters are silent altogether. And tricks like "I before E except after C" don't always apply.

[Microsoft_News; Redmond,_WA,_US; 2020-02-10]

Primary schools: Everything you need to know

Your guide to the different stages of primary education in England, including performance tables and assessment.

Primary schools generally cater for pupils aged from 4 to 11 years old. In the UK state school system, children begin in the Reception class before moving through from Year 1 to Year 6, when they take assessments known as Sats.

[TES; London,_UK; 2020-02-10]

SS3 pupil wins spelling Bee

Fourteen year-old Ifeoluwa Ademuwa, an SS3 student of Chrisfield College has won the first prize of MTN Nigeria kid-CEO spelling B competition.

Ademuwa competed against over 1,400 students across Lagos State to become the overall winner. Seventy schools across the state fielded their best to compete with their mates from various locales in Lagos.

[Nation,_The; Lagos,_NG; 2020-02-09]

Test Your Kid’s Vocabulary By Playing These Mind Games

Ranging from board games to mobile apps and online games, here are some mind games you can use to test your kid’s vocabulary.

Especially as a second language, not all kids find it easy to learn English. English might be one of the easiest languages to learn, but still, there are so many rules to grasp before one can fully be able to write and speak fluently. Additionally, there are thousands of rare words that are not necessarily used in everyday communication, yet they’re equally important when learning English.

[Cornwall_Seeker,_The; Cornwall,_ON,_CA; 2020-02-07]


Otto English takes us on a journey through the history of the English language, the exceptionalism of Empire and the furious and curious of Twitter.

I’m a big fan of my mother tongue. I love its peculiarities, its barking mad spelling, glorious vocabulary, poetry and quirks. I taught it as a foreign language for some years and became obsessed with etymology and those bits in the grammar where there’s no real logic but it’s just the way it is because it ‘sounds better’. The English language is one of our islands’ great creations.

[Byline_Times; London,_UK; 2020-02-06]

This African champ spells success e-m-p-a-n-o-p-l-y

The Scripps National Spelling Bee seems like the quintessential American tradition. But like so many parts of life in the U.S., if you look a little closer, there’s an international story to be told – one letter at a time.

“The image of Africa lots of people in America grow up with is hungry, skinny kids with flies stuck to their faces, and then we show up with kids who can compete with the best spellers in the world,” she says. “That changes minds.”

[Christian_Science_Monitor,_The; Boston,_MA,_US; 2020-02-06]

Garland ISD celebrates the 2020 Spelling Bee English and Spanish winners

This year’s Garland ISD Spelling Bee featured fierce competitors, proud parents, and four first-place winners.

The number of winners isn’t a sign of a tie, but the result of a new Garland ISD competition. For the first time in district history, GISD hosted both an English and Spanish Spelling Bee in January.

[North_Dallas_Gazette; Dallas,_TX,_US; 2020-02-06]

Nigeria: Spelling Bee - Saving Young Nigerians' Ailing Grammar Skills

Uchechukwu Nnaike highlights the impact of spelling competitions on the performance of students, especially in terms of reversing the trend of poor grammar among youths.

With more than 86 million young Nigerians below the age of 15, these young ones account for a staggering 45 per cent of the over 203 million population. Accordingly, primary school enrollment has increased in recent years, however, net attendance is only about 70 per cent. This means that there are more than 10.5 million out-of-school children- the world's highest number.

[All_Africa; Washington,_DC,_US; 2020-02-05]

Put-in-Bay student wins county spelling bee

This year, the county’s top speller not only emerged from one of its smallest schools, but also overcame any barriers that come along with learning English as a second language.

English being a second language for Michael did not stop him from spelling each and every word put in front of him correctly on Tuesday night, a streak that earned him the first-place victory at the Ottawa County Spelling Bee.

[Port_Clinton_News_Herald; Fremont,_OH,_US; 2020-02-05]

Spelling Bee returns with 5th season

Spelling Bee is back.

Russell T Ahmed, CEO of Champs21.com, said, “Bringing back spelling bee makes me very hopeful and optimistic that we will be able to not only teach our students to be better spellers but also help them become leaders of tomorrow.”

[Daily_Star,_The; Dhaka,_BD; 2020-02-03]

Why Is “Airplane” Also Spelled “Aeroplane”?

The spelling differences go beyond the invention of the airplane.

“British English has a general tendency to favo(u)r spellings and words that are reminiscent of French, whereas American English, when it has deviated from what British English does, often changes in the direction of seeming less French.”

[Reader's_Digest; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-02-03]

MAPS hosts district spelling bee

More than 30 students from grades fifth through eighth squared off against one another.

The standard Scripps spelling bee rules were used for the competition. Organizers say it helps the students increase their vocabularies, learn correct English usage and encourage friendly competition.

[WLUC; Negaunee,_MI,_US; 2020-02-03]

Lithuania needs to accept life with English language, change law – linguists

Lithuania's Law on State Language needs to be amended and adapted to the existing reality, linguists say, adding that the state needs to learn side-by-side with the English language.

25 yeas ago, on Jan 31, 1995, the existing Law on State Language was adopted which has been in force ever since. It states that the Lithuanian language is the only state language in Lithuanian and must be used at state and municipal institutions, in officials documents, films should be translated in to the stated language or have Lithuanian subtitles etc.

[Baltic_Times,_The; Riga,_LV; 2020-01-31]

Burnley primary school children brush up on their maths and English skills

Pupils from a Burnley primary school have been brushing up on their maths and English in the form of a 'Spelling Bee' and 'Able Maths' workshop.

The children from Springfield Community Primary School in Burnley Wood took part in a Spelling Bee to decide who would represent will be for a cross school competition. Meanwhile, Springfield pupils took part in an ‘Able Maths’ workshop at Christ The King RC Primary School.

[Burnley_Express; Burnley,_UK; 2020-01-30]

The word columnist offers a mea culpa

I have been writing “In a Word” for almost two years, and I have made mistakes. To the readers who have written in when I have erred: This is for you.

The Wall Street Journal, for example, once alerted its readers that it had mistakenly referred to pop star Britney Spears as “Briney Spear.” Brazilian newsmagazine Veja emended its profile of a politician: “The candidate likes to spend his free time reading Tolstoy, and not watching ‘Toy Story,’ as originally reported.”

[Christian_Science_Monitor,_The; Boston,_MA,_US; 2020-01-30]

Sam Coleman wins WJHS Spelling Bee

Wells Junior High School eighth grade student Sam Coleman emerged the top speller in this year’s Wells Junior High School Spelling Bee held Jan. 15.

[Sea_Coast_Online; Portsmouth,_NH,_US; 2020-01-30]

UMFK to host regional round for National Spelling Bee

“We are very pleased to be hosting this event on our campus again this year.” said UMFK Dean of Community Education, Scott Voisine. “This spelling bee is an event that celebrates academic achievement and provides young people the opportunity to hone skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.”

[WAGM; Fort_Kent,_ME,_US; 2020-01-30]

Jonesville student wins county spelling bee

Jonesville sixth-grader Gibson Vestal claimed the victory and will go on to compete in the regional spelling bee in March.

“The purpose of the 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. It also helps students to speak publicly in front of an audience.”

[Yadkin_Ripple,_The; Yadkinville,_NC,_US; 2020-01-29]

Kingston 5th-grader spells 'elaborate' to win county spelling bee

"I'll keep studying my list of words and flip through the dictionary," she said.

The Kingston Elementary fifth-grader was crowned the spelling champion of the county Friday morning at the 60th annual Bartow County Spelling Bee at the Clarence Brown Conference Center in Cartersville after representing her school in the contest last year as a fourth-grader.

[Daily_Tribune_News,_The; Cartersville,_GA,_US; 2020-01-28]

Academic confirms that the North East speaks ‘properly’

You have probably never taken issue with Daniel Jones, who became head of phonetics at University College London in 1912. But you might do.

He isn’t the perhaps the most obvious target for a 2020 polemic, but Professor Jones still manages to antagonise. He was the gentleman who more-or-less decided that accents, such as the faultless ones used by natives of the North East and elsewhere, were somehow “wrong”. He backed the idea of Received Pronunciation (RP), which essentially means speaking like Stephen Fry.

[Northumberland_Gazette; Alnwick,_UK; 2020-01-26]

Macrons and Wikipedia

The use of macrons in New Zealand English is changing fast.

Print and television media, local and central government, they have almost all adopted the macron to indicate long vowels in Māori.

[Scoop; Wellington,_NZ; 2020-01-26]

U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan to hold fourth annual spelling bee

The United States Embassy in Nur-Sultan will hold its fourth annual spelling bee across the country during February and March.

“Local, national and regional bees are excellent opportunities to support education and to promote American English and American culture, to showcase the partnership between the United States and Central Asia and to build a strong regional network of spaces (American Corners),” according to the competition’s official guidelines.

[Astana_Times,_The; Astana,_KZ; 2020-01-24]

The Discontented Alphabet in Winter

When George Washington was a lad, he learned his alphabet, all twenty-seven letters.

When English was first written, though, it had twenty-four letters, not including several we know today, such as J or V or W. Because English was not Latin, when the English language was transliterated to the Latin alphabet, there were several sounds not represented, and as such, those founders of written English as we know it modified letters to represent sounds or they borrowed from the former alphabet that had represented English, the Futhorc system of runes. Thus English had letters that other languages did not. That caused problems several hundred years later. When the idea of movable-type printing first flowered in Europe, most of the printing was done in what we now call Germany by German people.

[Ricochet; Los_Angeles,_CA,_US; 2020-01-23]

With ‘Duress,’ Millhopper Montessori Student Becomes Alachua County’s Spelling Champion

The bee’s purpose is to help the students improve their spelling, increase their vocabulary and develop English skills “that will help them all their lives.”

She said she had been practicing since early December. “I would just ask my family words, just use whatever words they could think of,” said Thelin, who turns 14 on Friday.

[WUFT; Gainesville,_FL,_US; 2020-01-23]

“Breath” and “breathe”

Words referring to the most basic functions of our organism.

The basic word here is the noun breath; it already existed in Old English and had long æ. The verb breathe is a later derivative of the same root; it also had a long vowel.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2020-01-22]

PRMS hosts district Spelling Bee

The district spelling bee was held at Prairie River Middle School on Tuesday, January 14.

Schools represented were: Jefferson, Kate Goodrich, Maple Grove Charter School, PRMS, St. John Lutheran School, St. Francis Catholic School and Washington.

[Merrill_Foto_News; Merrill,_WI,_US; 2020-01-21]

Sahasra Deepika Foundation's annual Spelling Bee contest held

The last few months saw Class 9 student Sneha Somu diligently spending two hours after school to learn new words in English.

“My teacher KG Ravikumar taught us the pronunciation of 50 words every day. My parents and neighbours feel proud of me when I read spellings out loud. I’m glad that I could fulfil their expectations by coming first in the competition,” says Somu, whose father is a worker at a welding shop.

[New_Indian_Express,_The; New_Delhi,_IN; 2020-01-20]

Van Dyke wins CMS Spelling Bee

Seventh-grader Caleb Van Dyke distinguished himself as Catskill Middle School’s top speller by winning his school’s 2019 spelling bee.

[subscription] He and other students from grades 6 through 8 showed their mettle in this school-wide spelling showdown that took place Dec. 19 in the CMS auditorium. Sixth grader Lacy Soura and seventh grader Morgan Hurler were the co runners-up. As the winner, Caleb will represent Catskill Middle School at the 2020 Capital Region Spelling Bee held Feb. 4 at Proctor’s Theatre.

[Hudson_Valley_360; Hudson,_NY,_US; 2020-01-16]

Pacelli students advance to Regional Spelling Bee

Pacelli Catholic School has advanced two spellers to the Regional Spelling Bee.

The champion of the Southeast Minnesota Spelling Bee Final will win an expenses-paid trip (including one adult) to compete in the 2019-20 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, held at the end of May 2020. Pacelli’s Neha Thawani Nanda earned a trip to the 2018-19 National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC. The bee’s purpose is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

[Austin_Daily_Herald; Austin,_MN,_US; 2020-01-14]

How Many Words Are There in the English Language?

Of course, it's impossible to provide an exact number of words in English, since new words are being added to the dictionary, and falling out of use, pretty much constantly.

Dr. Adam Crowley, an associate professor of English at Husson University’s College of Science and Humanities, provides an approximate answer—and it’s surprisingly nice and even! “How many words are there in the English language? The short answer is: about a million,” he told RD.com.

[Reader's_Digest; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-01-14]

For county Spelling Bee champions, experience pays off

Melody Harlan, in 6th grade at Auburn Middle School, won the 2020 Spelling Bee Saturday.

“Oh yeah, I was nervous,” she said after the competition. She and her mother, Tina Harlan, have spent countless hours writing out and reviewing flash cards over the past few years. “She’s had a great track record for setting the goal and then putting in the work to accomplish the goal,” said her father, Scott Harlan.

[Fauquier_Times; Warrenton,_VA,_US; 2020-01-13]

Speech-disrupting brain disease reflects patients' native tongue

Dementia-related language symptoms differ in Italian and English speakers, study finds.

English speakers had more trouble pronouncing words -- the traditional hallmark of nonfluent PPA -- and tended to speak less than usual. In contrast, Italian speakers with the same disorder had fewer pronunciation difficulties but tended to produce much shorter and grammatically simpler sentences. "We think this is specifically because the consonant clusters that are so common in English pose a challenge for a degenerating speech-planning system," said Gorno-Tempini, who directs the language neurobiology laboratory at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, and is co-director of the UCSF Dyslexia Center and the recently launched UCSF-UC Berkeley Schwab Dyslexia and Cognitive Diversity Center. "In contrast, Italian is easier to pronounce, but has much more complex grammar, and this is how Italian speakers with PPA tend to run into trouble."

[EurekaAlert; New_York,_NY,_US; 2020-01-10]

Scripps National Spelling Bee Launches Word Club App

The app is available for free download on iOS and Android devices. It includes 50 study words and in-app purchase options for the remainder of the 4,000 words appearing in the 2020 edition of Words of the Champions, the official Bee study resource for school and regional spelling bee participants. "Spellers enjoy busy lives that involve far more than just spelling," said Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. "The Word Club app gives them the freedom and flexibility to continue their word studies while on the go. The app's interactive play features will challenge their minds and motivate their competitive spirit."

[PR_Newswire; Chicago,_IL,_US; 2020-01-08]

Harrison County Spelling Bee leads to the national stage

One contestant, Ashley McBrayer, a 6th grader from Bridgeport Middle School, says she appreciates what spelling bee's [sic] do for her. "They get me out of my comfort zone. They help me in school, and get me to spell new words I've never heard before." She can even spell the longest word in the English dictionary: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

[WDTV; Bridgeport,_WV,_US; 2020-01-08]

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