Writing SystemsChapter 12 (pp. 518-527) Allison Barden August 7, 2007
Reading, Writing and Speech • Written language reflects elements and rules that constitute the grammar of a language • Punctuation • Used in English to set apart sentences and phrases, indicate questions, intonation, stress and contrast.
Examples: • Consider the differences • 1. Greg thinks Sally is a looker. • 2. Greg, thinks Sally, is a looker • 1. You are going to eat ice cream for breakfast. • 2. You are going to eat ice cream for breakfast? • 3. You are going to eat ice cream for breakfast! • 1. Jacob said he’s driving. • 2. Jacob said, “He’s driving.” • 1. My friend’s party. • 2. My friends’ party.
Contrastive Stress • Emphasis that is often represented in writing with capital letters, italics or underlining to stress the importance of a specific word or to clarify a reference in a sentence such as: • John whispered the message to Bill and then he whispered it to Mary. [Who’s the he?] • John whispered the message to Bill and then he whispered it to Mary. [Now, who’s the he?] OR • She’s going to the party? • She’s going to the party? or She’s going to the party?
Reading • Differences between learning to read/write and to speak • 1. Speech is learned at a much younger age • 2. All children learn to talk or sign while many never learn to read or write. • 3. Reading requires specific instruction and conscious effort whereas language acquisition does not. • Whole Word Approach – word recognition – 1950’s • Phonics Approach – “sound it out” – baby boomers • Whole Language Approach (also, “literature-based” or “guided reading”) – phonics should not be taught directly – 1990’s • Benzoxycamphors– Do you have to sound it out? Should Phonics supplement Whole Language or should Whole Language supplement Phonics?
Spelling • English discrepancies include: Same Sound, Different Spelling (buy, die) Different Sound, Same Spelling (thought, Thomas) Silent Letters (listen, mnemonic) Missing Letters (use, fuse) • Spelling was reformed from erratic 14th, 15th and 16th Century versions to conform to Greek and Latin etymologies
Should Spelling be Reformed Again? • Some famous figures that thought so… • Noah Webster – recommended simpler spellings in his dictionary • Benjamin Franklin – created a phonetic alphabet • President Theodore Roosevelt – attempted to pass an executive order to implement simpler spellings • H. G. Wells – V.P. of the Simplified Spelling Society • Andrew Carnegie – donated $ to spelling reform societies • Wyrdplay - Reformed Spelling Systems
Thoughts of one of America's most famous authors… “Mind, I myself am a Simplified Speller; I belong to that unhappy guild that is patiently and hopefully trying to reform our drunken old alphabet by reducing his whiskey. Well, it will improve him. When they get through and have reformed him all they can by their system he will be only HALF drunk. Above that condition their system can never lift him. There is no competent, and lasting, and real reform for him but to take away his whiskey entirely, and fill up his jug with Pitman's wholesome and undiseased alphabet.” Mark Twain 1899
Motivation for Spelling Irregularities • Homophones • The book was red. The book was read. • Different Pronunciations May Represent the Same Morpheme • divine/divinity – serene/serenity – sane/sanity • Dialectal Differences • Common spellings indicate the intended word
Spelling Pronunciations • Writing has affected speech through spelling pronunciation • Hour, habit, heretic, hotel, hospital and herb • Thomas, anthem, author, theater • Catherine, Elizabeth, Arthur • Berkley, Worcester • Although some influence, the writing system reflects, for the most part, the grammar that every speaker knows
Exercise # 5 In the following pairs of English words, the bold-faced portions are pronounced the same but spelled differently. Can you think of any reason why the spelling should remain distinct? (Hint: reel and real are pronounced the same, but reality shows the presence of a phonemic / ǽ/ in real.)
Exercise #8 In the written form, the following sentences are not ambiguous, but they would be if spoken. State the devices used in writing that make the meanings explicit. • They’re my brothers’ keepers • They’re shows that it is they are instead of there and punctuation shows that brothers is plural. • He said, “He will take the garbage out.” • This shows that the person said the phrase “He will take the garbage out,” not that he would complete the action of taking the garbage out. • The red book was read. • Distinguishes between the color and the action (adjective and verb). • The flower was on the table. • Distinguishes between the plant and the baking ingredient.