English spelling – A nightmare?

English spelling is amazing! I might be one of the few who think that way but given my natural curiosity poems such as The English Lesson by Richard Krogh are just my cup of tea. Having learned English as a Foreign Language myself, my attitude towards English spelling and pronunciation has not always been that positive. Believe me, I have stumbled over words such as plough and enough and twisted my tongue trying to pronounce words such as miscellaneous or onomatopoeia. Nevertheless, I think it is fascinating that the spelling of English words does not correspond with their actual pronunciation.

As fascinating as English spelling and pronunciation can be, it entails immense problems for its speakers and learners. The English Spelling Society states that illiteracy and dyslexia are widely spread among English native speakers. Gina Cooke explains in this illustrative video how to make sense of English spelling. Take a look and have a go with the poem The English Lesson!

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About Carmen Ebner

Carmen Ebner is a sociolinguist who is currently working at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). In September 2017, she has obtained her PhD in Linguistics from Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) in the Netherlands, where she worked on a project on language attitudes and prescriptivism in British English. Carmen's research interests include all things sociolinguistics. In particular, she is interested in linguistic discrimination, attitude elicitation techniques, language variation and change, and historical sociolinguistics.
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2 Responses to English spelling – A nightmare?

  1. Thank you for sharing my video! As it happens, I work with dyslexic children and their teachers, and we’ve made great strides in improving not only their spelling skills, but more importantly, their understanding of the order and coherence of the English spelling system, and their sense of themselves as logical thinkers and reasoning learners. The English Spelling Society might do better to chastise humans for their lackluster understanding of the English writing system than to continue balking at the system itself.

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