Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grammar Made Easy ...

© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved

... but I haven't seen pigs fly yet!

My daily morning routine is to turn on the news in the morning while I’m getting ready to go to work. Yesterday was no exception. The commentators served up some more of the same stuff we’ve been hearing about for months; the hike in crime, rise in costs, more failed industries, and the steady increased percentage of unemployment. News about our economy came while I dried my hair, I put on my make-up to word from Iran, and I slipped on my clothes while I listened to the latest celebrity gossip.

If life isn’t frustrating enough, what I heard next made me sit up, take notice, and gnash my teeth.

New British guidelines are telling teachers that the standard grammar rule, i before e except after c is too confusing and because the rule isn’t consistently used, citing examples such as sufficient, veil and their. Hence, that rule should no longer be taught. Don't believe me? Here’s a link to one of the articles from CBS News.

Come on, now. Who are we kidding? The English language is full of inconsistencies. Let’s not stop with poor little i and e. How about if we make a few other spellings more consistent while we're at it?

Let’s start with that “shun” sound. Why is the word operation written with a "tion", circumcision with a "sion", and suspicion written with "cion"? Wouldn’t it be easier to remember these spelling if we could write, operashun, circumcishun, and suspishun? Add to this words that have the same “shun” sound but end in "cian" like beautician. I mean, if you read the following sentence, you’d know what it meant, right?

“Sweatheart, I’m going to see my beautishun. I just pulled my hair out and can't do a thing with it!”

Which brings me to words like phone, phantom, philosophy, and phenomenon. What’s that all about? Just drop the ph and spell them with an f for crying out loud! Oh, now there's another example, why is out loud two words, but outlook one? Hmmm?

Okay, we’re making some progress. Let’s move on to homonyms (words that sound alike but have different meanings like air (what we breathe), e’er (contraction of “ever”), ere (eventually), err (a mistake), and heir (one who will inherit). Still with me? Good, for more homonyms check out:

Synonyms are different words with similar meanings, here's proof: For example, a synonym for the word train is locomotive, engine, or depending on your age, choo-choo. However, if you’re in a new job, someone will surely train or teach, coach, educate, instruct, guide, prepare or tutor you on the proper procedures of your new position.

Antonyms are the easiest to remember because they are simply words opposite in meaning to other words, such as fast is an antonym of slow, and complicated is the opposite of easy.

But if the Brits are really concerned about easing up on the confusion of the English language, I say do something about, effect/affect and advice/advise! No matter how often I use them, I always have to look them up.

Now I ask you, is it any wonder the English language is the hardest to learn? I don't know about you, but I feel just a little smarter this morning because most of the rule are nicely tucked in the back of my head, especially i before e except after c which has been one of the easiest to remember. Maybe if someone could come up with a cute rhyme for me to remember when to use the words lie, lay, laid and lain, I wouldn't need to fone my beautishun as often which would help me save money on gas and wear/where/ware on my car/auto/vehicle.

And my final word on the subject is, life is grand if you don't weaken! ;)


s.w. vaughn said...

Ha! This is great. And what a brilliant idea, not actually teaching the English language. Because, you know, it's just so intuitive... *snort*. Aren't there enough people already who can't spell (and who are on the internets, not spelling for the whole world to see?).

Too funny, Marta!

And did you know that the English language just officially received its millionth word? The official word is "Web 2.0" - which is not actually a word, because it has NUMBERS in it...

(The millionth word in the English language. Brought to you by people who define "n00b" as "someone who takes credit for the work of others, often in internet communities". Brilliant, I say!)

Kim Smith said...

Great post Marta. This stuff drives me mad, and I cannot imagine what someone trying to learn the language must think!

Anonymous said...

All of this has been driving me nuts as I've been trying to help my daughter with her spelling. My husband is no help-- he doesn't know the rules, but is a great speller.

In the last year, my goal with my daughter has changed. I don't care about ie/ei. I just want her to get her spelling close enough that spell-check recognizes the word!

Sheila Deeth said...

Weren't they just talking about changing how it's taught - no change to spelling though, unlike here where logic went out the window long ago.

I used to make the "ei" in my name an excuse not to know how to spell, but when they started teaching my kids to spell (in England) with logic and derivations instead of rules and exceptions, I finally caught on. Then we emigrated. Ouch.

Anyone spell color?

Marta Stephens said...

Hi all!

Good to know I'm not alone in the going mad part. LOL I suppose if they're not going to teach the rule then the spelling will be anyone's guess. :(

Cheryl said...

Do you know how I learned the preamble to the United States Constitution? By watching School House Rock on Saturday mornings. Yes, I am that old. I can still recite it because of that silly song and the only way I can easily recite it is to sing it.

Why mess with what works? "i before e except after c and cases ending in ght" is one of those things that helps children learn how to spell. Does it work in every case? No, but not much does; and not every new fangled idea will work either.

Great post Marta!


thewriterslife said...

Great post, Marta! I'm right there with ya, babe!

Marta Stephens said...

Hey Chery! Yay,School House Rock. I can still here the one about the costitution too! How about the song about electricity?

And Dorothy, thanks for stopping by! :()

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Oh, Marta. This is PRICELESS! You had me in stitches!

Marta Stephens said...

Ha! Aaron. Probably because you're one of my crit buds and know me well! LOL

Anonymous said...

Great post. Grammar is one of those things that i have totally abandoned as impossible to learn. Hah I like your strategy. Confuse them even more!
Jo Ann


It's the joys of the ever changing British education system, they seem to make things up as they go along.

Great post, Marta.

Marta Stephens said...

Ha! Cait, glad you enjoyed it. :()