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Questions that I just don't have answers to...

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My DS8 asks questions about word spellings that I just don't know the answers to. For instance, why is Knight spelled with a Kn when night also spells night? And why can't nite spell night? Why is all spelled that way instead of ol or oll even, since a short O makes the ah sound. Why does live spell live (long I) and live (short I)? Shouldn't live (short I) be spelled l-i-v, without an e?


Sometimes I can find a reason based on root words from either Lation or Greek, but sometimes, I just don't know what to say other than, "because it is."


He likes to know how things work, and when things don't work the way he expects them to, he needs to know why. It's just the way he is. My other kids are getting sick of his constant questions about this stuff, and I just wish I had answers, but I don't. Ugh.


Does anyone on here have answers for odd spellings? I feel like I fail him in so many ways because he thinks so differently than I.



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Perhaps part of the answer would be to teach him how to find out.  For example, for the words, the dictionary can provide some insight.  He can learn how to look things up, what the abbreviations mean, etc.  That will, of course, lead to more questions, but such is life.

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He is discovering the basics of phonics and spelling rules. He must be good at attending to detail. Many of us went through school without ever being introduced to a complete phonics course. The author of Uncovering the Logic of English has a number of wonderful videos for you! Most of the English words make perfect sense once you learn all the sounds of the letters and letter combos, learn the spelling rules, and understand the morphemes (and understand that English adopts words from other languages with different phonograms and spelling rules!)


Watch this first. If you get hooked, watch her teacher training videos.



Teacher Training video number one. The rest are on The Logic of English channel under teacher training videos.


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I love Uncovering the Logic of English.


I believe it also helps to familiarize one with the history of English. So for example with know, we talk about the word kennen (German), connaitre (French), cognosco (Latin), gnoriso (Greek).


All start with "k" sound or "g". But English speakers are lazy at times! We look up the etymology. There is a common root for a lot of those kn words. In English we don't like kn together, or ps together, so the first consonant is silent.


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Bill Bryson's The Story of English and How it Got That Way and The Mother Tongue might make good reads for you if you share your son's interest. They might be a bit much for your DS, but you can share a lot with him.


With many words like "knight", we used to pronounce the K but dropped it through time while keeping the spelling. When you study American history, he might enjoy learning about Daniel Webster and his crusade to separate American English from British English. Long lasting and convoluted consequences as a result. He might also get a kick out of Middle English and how fluid spelling was at the time (for example, of Shakespeare's few signatures we know of, none were spelled the same way twice, and none were spelled the way we spell it). It's not just historical; we are in a similar age where an incredible amount of new words are being added to the language in fluid ways--turning nouns into verbs and so on (Google as a search engine into Googling something).


I love linguistics. :)

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Shouldn't live (short I) be spelled l-i-v, without an e?


"English words do not end in 'v'" as part of the "English words do not end in i, u, v, or j" rule.


You may not want to give the whole rule right now because then he'll point out that 'you' ends in 'u' and so does 'thou', both of which certainly seem to be English words. This will lead to more Googling to figure out if these are exceptions to the rule or if the German-influence is what caused the 'u' to be there. (Heck if I know.)


This is one of the reasons I prefer math to language arts. Math is so much more straight forward!

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