Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spelling Rhymes: Wrong and Right

We have all been taught the little helper rhyme of "i before e, except after c." Annoyingly enough this seems to work only half the time you need it to. If you are ever unsure of a certain way of spelling something, I've discovered a rhyme that works most every time! The rule rhyme above is of American (USA) origin, but we all know that in matters of language they have over many years of poor English enabled wrong spellings and pronunciations to find their way into the dictionary. For example, Aluminum (Ah-lou-min-um) is WRONG. It has been said incorrectly so often that it became commonplace and considered correct. (Think of when you were little, spaghetti was 'skeddy.' They just didn't have anyone around to show them the right way). The correct way of spelling and saying this is Aluminium (Ah-lou-mini-um). The prior is merely a bastardized version of the original English form.

Moving on, there is a fool proof method of finding the order of your i's and e's. It existed before the American version and has sadly been forgotten on this side of the pond.

The correct rhyme:

"If the diphthong rhymes with "c" (sea), the letters go i, e. If the diphthong rhymes with "a" (ay), the letters go the other way!"

If you are unsure of what a 'diphthing' is, fear not for it's fairly simple. A Dyphthong is just a vowel sound created using two letters such as oy (royal), ow (cow), or in our case, ie and ei.

Now with a Canadian or American accent some of these words may fall into a gray area when we pronounce them. If this is the case, think of how the British would say it and you'll find it.

May you never
more be burdened with such annoying trifles of spelling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Neat - I'll use that little ditty if I'm teaching English sometime down the road.