Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 1 07:23:08 UTC 2009

It's not an error if it's true.  Teachers were forbidden to tell kids that letters stand for sounds.  This was in a California school under whole language.  Teachers were fired.  Also, I recently took a course as an assistant reader for kids having trouble reading.  The last thing the instructor said was "Don't tell them that letters stand for sounds."  No time to dispute this statement.

There's a new commercial "Teach your baby to read" where 1 year old kids are shown cue cards with words on them.  THe commercial shows the kids reading the cards correctly.  Then it is said that the child could figure out the pronunciation of new words - it learned letter-sound correspondence without being taught.  The kid figured out reality.  Actually, studies show that this "indirect instruction" is not as good as direct instruction on letter-sound correspondence.  But this is one smart kid.

I'm not a purist.  Two of my books count the number of ways each of the 40 phonemes of USA English are spelled.  Truespel book 4 finds that 90% of the consonants and 50% of the vowels are spelled in the first most popular way.  So tradspel needs a lot of sight word memorizing.

What's recently important is that "phonemic awareness" correlates to successful readers.  There's only 40 phonemes in USA English.  That makes it simple to learn to write and read using only 40 spellings of 40 phonemes.  See IBM's Writing to Read" phonetic method.

You were a gifted reader.  Those gifted in other ways but not-so-gifted in reading could use a little help.  So truespel fills the gap, for the first time integrating reading instruction with dictionary keys and translation guides.

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL5+

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Paul Johnston
> Subject: Re: sumetary
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Tom:
> Another error in your discussion. I taught an applied linguistics
> approach to reading acquisition for many years, using a whole
> language slant. Now I don't want to get into that whole argument,
> but "whole language" is not the same as "whole word" or "look say".
> It's focus is not on using only visual cues for word recognition,
> but, basically, on everything the child can throw at an unknown word,
> INCLUDING (but not exclusively, and preferably not first) phonics
> knowledge. You use the semantic and syntactic context of the
> surrounding known words, kids' background knowledge about texts and
> about the subject of the text, visual shape and phonics (as a tie-
> breaker). There's a lot of myths about the approach, and yes,
> phonics is essential at some point. But it's become such a political
> bugaboo that few people really know what the real researchers say on
> either side, just the popularizers, the politicians, and sellers of
> kits. And they have AGENDAS.
> Personally, I got a mixture of approaches when I learned to read,
> which I learned before school. I'd say my parents' reading to me and
> with me, alerting me to the oddness and interesting aspects of words
> and language, letting me play with writing and typing at age 4, and
> going from 1st to 8th at a school that had a tradition of being a
> John Dewey school made me a good reader (and a future linguist),
> though as a lover of word puzzles, I liked the phonics exercises I
> got. Dick & Jane bored me. I'd have rather read some of the
> children's book series we got outside of school, and luckily I had
> teachers who let us bring some of them in. I'm one of those loonies
> who read the World Book (and anything else you threw at me) cover-to-
> cover, so I probably can't talk about reading from my own
> experience. But it seems like "different strokes for different
> folks" holds true in reading. Some kids are very analytical. Some
> kids learn globally.
> And I really don't see, by the way, why the tiny differences
> between accents that exist should be stamped out. I can understand
> most Alabamans (or Californians or Mainers or British Columbians)
> just fine, even where there's potential phonemic overlap. If someone
> from Toronto says "I'm going [@ut]", I know that last word doesn't
> designate something that horses eat, because of semantic and
> syntactic context, even though, to me, [@ut]="oat". Same with
> "block" and "black" here. Labov found the confusion happened mostly
> when the words were spoken in isolation. That's what made his tests
> so interesting, because his listeners guessed the word wrong when out
> of context, and then, when the whole sentence was supplied, saw what
> was really intended. (And I've heard several different pronunciations
> of his name--I think he says [l@'b^v].) Even in the UK, where accent
> differences are far greater, increased contact between people from
> different areas resulted in leveling, even if that didn't necessarily
> mean converging on Received Pronunciation. As long as we're trying to
> get along, we naturally try to communicate, editing out what might
> not be understood and substituting things we believe to be more
> widespread--and largely unconsciously at that. So what's the deal,
> if that's all we have to do?
> Yours,
> Paul Johnston
> On Mar 31, 2009, at 10:55 AM, Herb Stahlke wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender: American Dialect Society
>> Poster: Herb Stahlke
>> Subject: Re: sumetary
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>> ---------
>> So, Tom, are you going to tell 100 million or so proud Southerners
>> that they have to start pronouncing final /r/ and that they can no
>> longer say /raad/ for "ride"? Or will you perhaps tell Eastern New
>> Englanders to drop their intrusive /r/ and stop pahking cahs? You
>> will, of course, require most of the population west of the
>> Mississippi to distinguish caught and cot. There are those who would
>> legislate English as the official language of the US and the only
>> language to be used in matters of government. You're taking this a
>> step farther. You want an official dialect. But where is your
>> evidence that dialect differences have caused disruption to civil
>> peace in this country? Most of us are bidialectal, at least
>> receptively. We understand with ease more than one dialect of English
>> and may even be able to speak more than one well.
>> Sound change is a fact of language and always has been. No one has
>> ever been able to stop it. Forcing a particular pronunciation works
>> in very specialized, narrow venues. When my choir sings Latin
>> religious texts, I train them in the 18th c. Roman pronunciation that
>> is standard for Church Latin, unless we sing a setting by a German or
>> Finnish composer, in which case we use the pronunciations of Latin
>> that are standard in those traditions. Even singing in English, I try
>> hard to get them not to use /r/ after a vowel because of what it does
>> to vocal resonance. They let me get away with all this, but if I
>> tried to tell them they had to speak everyday English with choral
>> diction they'd probably find a new choir director.
>> Sound change has always gone on and always will. We've been studying
>> it with some precision for about two centuries now. Even the Northern
>> Cities Vowel Shift is probably more than a century old, so it was
>> going on long before whole language approaches to reading came on the
>> scene and beginning reading was taught with some variety of phonics.
>> Of course, I remember hearing a Southern Indiana teacher telling her
>> students that some people claimed that "pin" and "pen" were pronounced
>> differently but that we all knew that wasn't really so.
>> Herb
>> On Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 9:23 AM, Laurence Horn
>> wrote:
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>> -----------------------
>>> Sender: American Dialect Society
>>> Poster: Laurence Horn
>>> Subject: Re: sumetary
>>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> ----------
>>> At 6:54 AM +0000 3/31/09, Tom Zurinskas wrote:
>>>> Thanks, Herb, for that interesting clip in which Bill ~Lubbaaf talks
>>>> about the Great Lake Northern Cities Vowel Shift (for short vowels).
>>>> (I didn't see his last name spelled but I can spell it phonetically
>>>> in truespel). He says that around the great lakes cities certain
>>>> vowels are changing. This area contains cities such as Cleveland,
>>>> Detroit, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffaloe (about 34M people). It used
>>>> to be the USA English standard pronunciation for media. Some
>>>> examples are:
>>>> saying "block" the same as "black"
>>>> saying "buses" the same as "bosses"
>>>> Other short vowels are swapping too. ~Lubbaaf says we are growing
>>>> apart linguistically even with massive media exposure. To me this
>>>> is a bad thing. It should be changed and can be changed.
>>>> I speculate that the main reason for this is that many schools have
>>>> dropped phonetic or phonic instruction for teaching reading and gone
>>>> with "whole language" or "whole word" approach. This forbids
>>>> teaching the alphabetic principle that letters stand for sounds, so
>>>> kids are taught that they have to learn words visually, and thus
>>>> pronunciation is not linked to spelling and can vary capriciously.
>>>> Huge mistake.
>>> And of course we know from the findings of historical linguistics
>>> that there's a strong correlation between the presence or absence of
>>> phonic instruction and the likelihood of sound change... ;-)
>>> LH
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society -
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>> The American Dialect Society -
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