Friday December 11, 2009 | Spelling

December 9, 2009 at 11:14 am | Posted in Coming Up | 9 Comments

We’ll have our own little Speling Spelling Bee today. We’ll talk about the history of how we spell certain words in the English language, why sometimes our words break the rules, and why spelling in English is just so darn hard. We’ll also take your comments and maybe have a little spelling quiz of our own.

Dr. Cynthia Lewis
– Professor of English at Davidson College
Dr. Ralf Thiede – Assoc. Professor of Linguistics, English Dept. at UNC Charlotte
Ellen Levine – Co-Author of So You Think You Can Spell?
David Grambs – Co-Author of So You Think You Can Spell?

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Listen to Show

Correct answers to the spelling quiz:













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  1. […] This post was Twitted by CharlotteTalks […]

  2. Did you see the large fitness billboard on Monroe Road that stated “No Committment Required” to join the club? I am always amazed when you see misspellings in large print or in business documents. How do people keep their jobs?

  3. The best example of how difficult the English language comes from the show “I Love Lucy” when Ricky pronounces psychiatrist , “fisy-kea-trist”.

  4. I am an adjunct professor and twice this year students have turned in assignments with the “word” prolly – which wsa obviously a reductionist spelling of probably. I was very surprised that they would turn in something spelled that way. I know we often mispronounce that word, but still it took me be surprise.

  5. I like to show this to my students who might rely too much on their computer’s “spell chequer”:

    Eye halve a spelling chequer
    It came with my pea sea
    It plainly marques four my revue
    Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

    Eye strike a key and type a word
    And weight four it two say
    Weather eye am wrong oar write
    It shows me strait a weigh.

    As soon as a mist ache is maid
    It nose bee fore two long
    And eye can put the error rite
    Its rare lea ever wrong.

    Eye have run this poem threw it
    I am shore your pleased two no
    Its letter perfect awl the weigh
    My chequer tolled me sew.

  6. Colonists voted to make English the official language of the colonies in Philadelphia. German, which was spoken in Philadelphia at the time of the Revolution, lost to English by one vote.

  7. I was listening to your show this morning and realized that I always believed that your name was Mike Hollins, because the ‘ka’ sound from Mike rolls into the ‘ka’ from Collins. thought it was funny. have a good day!

  8. Well I got nine right and not sure of the tenth.

    My gripe is with people who confuse the singular with the plural in the following two words (or izzit four words?):

    s phenomenon
    s criterion
    p criteria
    p phenomena

    The trick–the singulars end in on as in one. One guy today referred to a criteria and another to two phenomenon. So I’m a pedant. Bugs me.

  9. Hello, Mr. Collins,

    I enjoyed your show on English spelling and pronunciation. I have a comment on the rule about pronouncing “ie” and “ei”. This rule was criticized on your show because of the many exceptions that it fails to cover. I heard this same criticism on another such show earlier this year. In both cases the rule, as stated in the programs, was incomplete. My English teachers taught us: ” “I” before “E”, except after “C”, or when sounded like “A” as in NEIGHBOR and WEIGH”. The portion on long “A” pronunciation covers most exceptions, and greatly increases the universality of the rule.



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