Can ghoti really be pronounced as fish? Why is short in glove and love, but long in rove and cove? Why do English words carry such extra baggage as the silent in doubt, the silent in knee, and the silent in autumn? And why do names like Phabulous Phoods and Hi-Ener-G stand out? Addressing these and many other questions about letters and the sounds they make, this engaging volume provides a comprehensive analysis of American English spelling and pronunciation. Venezky illuminates the fully functional system underlying what can at times be a bewildering array of exceptions, focusing on the basic units that serve to signal word form or pronunciation, where these units can occur within words, and how they relate to sound. Also examined are how our current spelling system has developed, efforts to reform it, and ways that spelling rules or patterns are violated in commercial usage. From one of the world's foremost orthographic authorities, the book affords new insight into the teaching of reading and the acquisition and processing of spelling-sound relationships.
Richard L. Venezky is the Unidel Professor of Educational Studies at the University of Delaware, where he holds joint appointments in linguistics and computer and information sciences. In addition to his academic position, he works with the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC, and directs an educational technology project for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. He lives in Newark, Delaware, and in Sag Harbor, New York, with his wife, Councilwoman Karen G. Venezky.
1. Overview, 2. A Celebration of Variation, 3. Creative Spellings, 4. The Sound System, 5. The Writing System, 6. Origins and Evolutions, 7. Discovering Regularity, 8. Consonant Patterns, 9. Vowel Patterns, 10. Morphophonemics, 11. Spelling Reform, 12. Teaching Phonics, Glossary
"Spoken language, move over--writing has earned equal presence. This inspiring work makes transparent the hidden structure of written language. Venezky's measured guidance on reading instruction is most timely. Language scholars, teachers, and anyone who appreciates the written word will covet this book." --Dominic W. Massaro, PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz "The reading wars have outlasted virtually every other world conflict, mostly because the combatants have only a vague idea of what they are fighting about. Venezky's account of the nature of the English spelling-sound system may not end the wars, but it helps those of us who have to keep the world going--scholars, researchers, teachers, and teacher educators. Teachers and students who immerse themselves in this volume will view the world of spelling and phonics through much clearer lenses. An absolute 'must read.'" --Robert Calfee, PhD, Dean, School of Education, University of California, Riverside
"Venezky has written an immensely interesting and informative book on American English spelling. It covers a broad range of topics, moving gracefully from the historical origins of the 26 letters to the regularities and irregularities of spelling in food and drink words, and ending with the rules of spelling useful for teaching phonics to beginning readers. My favorite line: 'No hand of consistency ever stoked the spelling engine for English.'" --Jeanne S. Chall, PhD, Professor of Education, Emeritus, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"Few writers on educational topics can resist the temptation to admonish and advise, especially when the topic is reading. 'What is' tends to take second place to 'what ought to be' in the eyes of such critics. Venezky's thorough and engaging analysis of how spelling patterns relate to spoken language and to reading manages to escape this temptation, providing a basis for clear thinking about the issues." --David R. Olson, PhD, Professor of Human Development and Applied Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto "The entire book is recommended for teachers of reading and writing and students of linguistics and orthography at the upper-division undergraduate level and above. The chapters on creative spellings and spelling reform will delight and inform general readers as well." --"Choice"
"Venezky's detailed analysis of American spelling should be required reading for all who hope (or claim) to understand the actual complexity of English orthography....it should be an invaluable resource for those researchers, educators, and policy makers who intend to devise and implement spelling and phonics programs." --"Currents in Literacy"
"Throughout my reading of "The American Way of Spelling," I was struck by Venezky's honesty and wit....whether one reads all of the book or part of it, [the book] will inform, enlighten, and entertain....With this book...Venezky has helped us to understand more clearly the complexities of the American English orthographic system and offers sensible advice on how to apply that understanding in helping students learn to read and spell better." --"Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy"
.,."rises above the fray, Richard Venezky...offers the kind of solid grounding in the makeup of English words that can help a teacher to provide genuinely helpful and accurate decoding tools to students. At the same time, this book would be enlightening for any language arts teacher. The pedagogical suggestions in the concluding chapter are not merely practical but rational, inclusive, and sensitive to the realities of teaching children with disparate skills and needs. The book is not a diatribe; it is a serious source of knowledge, illuminating the nature of English writing byrelating current spellings to the sounds, morphemic structure, and history of our language. In a field often awash with oversimplification and misconceptions, Venezky has produced a work at once scholarly and accessible. If I had the power, I would require it for every reading teacher....Right on, Professor Venezky. I think you've done it." --"History of Reading News"
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