Mona Voelkel

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Spelling Makes Sense!

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A family member recently emailed me the poem, “The Chaos”  by Gerard Noist Trenité (1922), about the vagaries English spelling and lamented the unpredictability of the English language.

As a lover of the Structured Word Inquiry approach (Bowers, 2010), I could not help but respond that English does make sense if you consider not only the sounds and the letters but the meaning and etymology of the word.  He countered with the word <debt> because someone had recently asked him why there was a <b> in <debt>.

Working through the 4 questions of Structured Word Inquiry,  I found out that the <b> in <debt> was actually an etymological marker letter that was included by scholars to represent the connection to the Latin root debitum.

See my full exploration here.  It was so interesting to see that both <debt> and <debit> are derived from the same Latin root.  Even more exciting was how amazed my family member was to learn that the <b> in <debt> was not random but meaningful.  I was happy to share with him that Structured Word Inquiry has been such a positive approach to help my students, especially dyslexic or English as a New Language students, because it helps them make meaningful connections between spelling and language.

So, do you have any questions?  Feel free to email me or explore Structured Word Inquiry for yourself here or here  .

One Response

  1. Mona! Another interesting post – I’ve always had a juvenile confusion with the word “debit” on my bank statements (like, did they put something in? Did I take something out?) so using reverse SWI, knowing that “debt” comes from “debit” I’ll always remember that debit means I took, I owe… I see a lot of “debits”… I’ve been meaning to ask you – HOW WAS YOUR DINNER WITH KAY???    

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