Ancient History

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This morning Sammy said “jam is spelled J-A-M!” I told him that he was right and asked how he knew, since no jam jar was in sight. He shrugged his shoulders and returned to his Fruity Fables.

I contemplated how my 4 year old just knew how to spell “jam”, then it occured to me that his name is Sam, and he knows how to spell it. He probably figured out that he could replace the “s” with the “j” and turn Sam into Jam. How proud I was!

Aidan piped up: “Sam and jam rhyme! And so does lamb!”

Then she noted the big difference, much to my surprise, “but the ‘b’ in ‘lamb’ is forced to stay quiet because ‘m’ is a bully…”

“M is a bully?” I asked, rather disappointed that M is so mean.

“Yes, M is a bully when it won’t let B talk,” she said.

Why is M a bully? Was it raised without good parental guidance? Does it have self-esteem issues? Dr. Phil says “hurt people hurt people” There must be much mourning in M’s past. Much malevolence. Many months of mean mothering. Mucho mischief.

And what makes B a target of M’s harrassment? I don’t like blaming the victim, but does the poor fellow play with Barbie? Does his bulbous backside have anything to do with M forcing B into bondage? Poor B cannot speak when the words numb and dumb are uttered–how ironic.

Aidan continued, “And some letters are unfair to others. Like T-I-O-N should be S-H-U-N.”

How dare the letters T-I-O-N gang up together to keep “shun” down, under their thumbs (which, in turn, allows another bullying opportunity for M)! On their own, they are such nice, sweet letters. But get them together and they rule the world! They rig elections! They take endless vacations! They throw splashy celebrations of their power! They incite revolution! They ought to know that when grouped together, they should sound like “tee-eye-on”. But they don’t care. It is a violation of common sense. Maybe if S-H-U-N showed a little gumption, they wouldn’t be in this woeful situation.

The next thing I will hear about is how I comes before E, except after C! Does C have some dirt on I? All C has to do is show up on the scene, and I receives grief. For C to prefer E is her business, I suppose. What I find odd, however, is that when faced with science, C backs off and allows I to get closer. Dr. Phil would chastize C and command consistency.

Who invented this language, anyway?

Originally posted on November 30th, 2004. Reposting inspired by frustrating attempts to explain spelling rules to Sam, now a second-grader.

10 comments to English

  • That is funny–I taught my kids (both my own and when I was teaching) that capital letters are mommies so they get to walk in front when they are with the baby letters, and that e is mean and pinches if there is only one letter between it and the other but if there are two it can;t reach (and it is REALLY quiet when it is pinching so it doesn’t get in trouble). Also, when vowels get pinched they say their names. y kids get all kinds of emotional stuff out of this explaining poor e’s behavior especially when it stands beside tall letters like t and they rationalize that the others are pinching back –like in ear when the e speaks and the a doesn’t. Our letters have some seriosu relationship issues going on. 🙂

  • Oh, that is terribly funny, I love it.

  • Shayne

    LOL, I love it!

  • Oh my gosh you are SO clever!

    There’s a whole new realm to be explored with the whole “silent e” thing, wherein he has to shut up but gets his back by forcing another vowel to make an entirely different sound.

    Who knew letters led such sordid lives? There ought to be a soap opera!

  • edj

    LOL. Too fun. This year, I’m TRYING to teach my 3, who have only gone to French school, how to spell in English. These are some exciting times.

  • This reminds me of how I explain place value to my kids: After the ninth baby, there was no more beds in the one’s house, so the tenth kid had to find a bed in the attic of the tens’ house…

  • LOL! When I taught 1st graders, I used to tell them that E was bossy and made the vowels say their names but then didn’t say anything himself.

    Ah, the English language and its inconsistencies and strange rules!

  • Why is it that spelling rules are so weird lol You must see our Afrikaans rules…goodness – to explain THAT to a young child!

  • I just love this. And, in spite of it’s quirks, I love this language. Thanks for brightening my day with this re-post.


  • You rock. That was just what I needed to read. Makes me wanna go back to work tomorrow and teach!!

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