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Word Searcher
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[See also "Word Building and Spelling: Experiments in English Morphology"

"Welcome to the morphology micro-site. It has information on how English words are built up and interactive web-tools to try out.

Use this page,, as a bookmark in your own browser or when quoting this site to other people, even if you quote other specific pages as well such as the Word Searcher. Other pages might get moved.

This micro-site is for anyone interested in the English writing system, especially in how words represent meaning and how they are put together.

For newcomers, we hope you'll see English orthography in a new way.

For the more experienced, it's here to test ideas or as a resource to help others.

We hope whoever you are, you'll use, enjoy and send us comments on this morphological micro-site.
morphology noun 1 linguistics the study of morphemes and the rules by which they combine to form words. 2 biol the scientific study of the structure of plants and animals. 3 formal the structure of anything.
from Chambers Reference Online

Neil and Louise Ramsden"]
classideas  structuredwordinquiry  sfsh  words  language  english  spelling 
june 2017 by robertogreco
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Vowels
"How many vowels have you used today?

Five? Ten? Likely thousands.

But when was the last time you stopped to think about how those vowels live? These vowels have friends, family, and natural classes, but yet they never hesitate to resonate for you in your time of need.

Yet every day, vowels are bought and sold on national television, subjected to reduction (or even deletion) in unstressed environments and worst of all, in elementary and middle schools, students are systematically taught to deny the existence of more than two thirds of their ranks, focusing instead on five (sometimes six) lies spread by the million-dollar-a-year spelling bee industry.

Vowels are under threat, not just in schools, not just on TV, but in syllables in our very own words. Read on to hear heartbreaking tales of vowels in danger around the world.

The War on Vowels in Schools

“A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y”. This is the battle cry of a vile revisionist movement, a policy instituted by a shady cabal of scribes, printers, teachers and spelling-bee industry insiders.

Rather than telling our children of all the wonderful vowel qualities that they produce on a regular basis, teachers instead teach only the “letters”, orthographic representations designed to disguise the true nature of our speech. These so-called “letters”, A, E, I, O, U and Y are diphthongs in disguise, vowel/glide packages designed to cover up the 16 legitimate English vowels and keep them hidden from inquiring young minds.

So instead of acknowledging the spoken vowels which so enrich our lives and provide nuclei for the syllables we use everyday, our school systems continue to propagate these lies, while hosting events for the lucrative spelling bee industry in the very same buildings.

You wouldn’t accept a history book which doesn’t mention the Renaissance. You wouldn’t teach a chemistry course without discussing the Periodic Table. So why would we allow these so-called “English Teachers” to discuss our language without mention of a single schwa? Don’t revise history, don’t hide our grammar. Tell our schoolchildren the truth.

Our children are our most important resource. Don’t you think they should get all the vowels they deserve?"
vowels  linguistics  english  language  spelling  willstyler  humor 
april 2015 by robertogreco
English 3.0 on Vimeo
"English 3.0 is a 20 minute documentary that explores how the internet has influenced the way we communicate in the digital age and whether the changes witnessed have had a positive effect on the language.

The film features interviews with renowned authors and linguistics: Tom Chatfield, David Crystal, Robert McCrum, Fiona McPherson and Simon Horobin."

[via Taryn, who notes:
"2:55 every time a new technology arrives it expands the expressive richness of the language
19:30 to try and turn language into something static and makes you happy and preserves the things you care about is understandable but this is futile and of course it means people won't listen to you"]
language  english  technology  communication  mobile  phones  internet  web  online  tomchatfield  davidcrystal  robertmccrum  fionamcpherson  simonhorobin  vocabulary  lexicography  via:Taryn  howwewrite  writing  digital  spelling  spellcheckers  change  neologisms  invention  standards  conventions 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Digital Culture is Like Oral Culture Written Down — The Civic Beat — Medium
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"Digital Culture is Like Oral Culture Written Down: Calling a selfie stick or lunch pic narcissistic reflects a written culture perspective. Here’s how I reframe things.

We’re recognizing, for instance, how social media can facilitate the spread of rumors and misinformation. We’re acknowledging that verbal cyberbullying and online harassment can be deeply painful. Activist hashtagging continues in the tradition of call and response of chants and slogans. Conversation is a key principle in the new Cluetrain Manifesto: “The Net is not a medium any more than a conversation is a medium.”

All these discussions point to how social media has more of an oral, rather than literate, culture. By focusing just on what people post, we’re missing the point: social context, relationships and nonverbal gestures matter as much as the words and images themselves.

In other words, a selfie is never just a selfie. It exists in a broader social context, and just because some people take them narcissistically doesn’t mean that all, or even most, do.


Oral Culture/Print Culture
Shift the framework from print culture to oral culture, and much of the way we use social media sounds a little less crazy and little more, well, human. The Out of Eden Walk project is fond of calling its online community a digital campfire. I like that image; like idle chitchat and storytelling around a campfire, the conversations we have on social media often resemble oral conversations written down.

In that vein, here are a few general complaints against social media that I often hear (do they sound familiar?), and a potential way to reframe them (though to be honest, they’re each worthy of an essay). Because I look at images as much as words on the web, I prefer to use the term print culture, by which I hope to encompass both image- and word-based communications before the internet:

Print culture: People waste time posting pictures of their pets.
Oral culture: People tell silly stories about their pets all the time. Photos make those stories easier.

Print culture: Who cares what you’re having for lunch?
Oral culture: Eating food together, preparing food and talking about said food is one of the most fundamentally social things human beings do.

Print culture: Selfies are the height of vanity and narcissism.
Oral culture: Selfies help express emotion and tell stories. The written word lacks all the nuance of the human face, and selfies help fill that gap.

Print culture: There are literally thousands of people documenting this event with their cameras. Why do you need to take a picture too?
Oral culture: I’m taking this photo to share it with friends. It has to come from me, from my perspective, because I’m the storyteller.

Print culture: Punctuation marks help disambiguate meaning, words, and sentences. Be sparing with exclamation marks and semicolons.
Oral culture: Punctuation marks indicate emphasis. And tone… And emotion! And confusion‽‽‽ And. Every. Mode. Of. Expression. Under. The. Sun. ;)

Print culture: Ur spelling iz awful. Write proper English.
Oral culture: Variants of standardized language are probably as old as words themselves.

Print culture: Use hashtags to express topicality.
Oral culture: Use hashtags to #chant, to have a #metaconversation. Or #justbecause. #somanywaystousehashtags

Print culture: Think carefully about how you arrange words to convey exactly what you mean to say.
Oral culture: I has the feels. Here’s a GIF.


There are major differences between digital culture and oral culture, of course.

For one, you can’t index what people are saying in aural space (unless you’re using voice recognition software or audio recordings, etc.). Something you say in one place rarely escapes the physical constraints of sound; in digital culture, one sentence or image can go global rather quickly.

As well, print culture is still an important part of the dialogue, as it always has been, because digital technologies evolved from print technologies and share much of the same functionality. Digital culture has a permanence that’s as helpful for cultural heritage as it is for surveillance.

As law professor James Grimmelmann has written in response to some of my Tweets on this subject, this also has significant effects for the law:

Observers who expect that social media should have the dignity and gravity of the written word can feel affronted when others use social media more informally.

I see this slippage at work in Internet law all the time. The legal system repeatedly asks itself whether social media should be taken seriously.

In general, I find it more helpful, when looking at how people live and interact online, to take an oral culture orientation. We shouldn’t stop there, of course, because digital culture is not exactly oral culture. But with a better frame, we can then dive into the specifics of each practice to try to figure out what’s going on.

So back to the selfie stick.

In general, as we see more people from different cultures coming online, my guess is that cultures with rich oral traditions are more likely to be early adopters of practices that might initially seem odd to the more writerly types. Emoji, GIF stickers, walkie talkie text messages and selfie sticks all come to mind—there’s a reason these have tended to be more popular in Asia initially, where oral culture flourishes online (h/t selfie writer Alicia Eler). Especially when it comes to selfies and group photos, photos don’t end with the picture taking. Rather, everything about these photos — from taking them, sharing them and talking about them — is a vehicle for social bonding, storytelling, talking, etc.

Print culture: Selfie sticks help us extend our narcissism to new heights.
Oral culture: Selfie sticks help us tell better and more varied stories about what we’re up to. We can include a larger group of people. More of the background and scenery. The more detail, the better. Selfies allow us to take and frame the picture as a social experience with friends, making sure it comes from our own perspectives, not that of a stranger.

Oh, and they’re fun, to boot."

[Related: ]
emoji  selfies  selfiesticks  anxiaomina  2015  culture  orality  conversation  internet  socialmedia  online  web  print  publishing  literacy  multiliteracies  punctuation  spelling  language  communication  hashtags  gifs  storytelling  interaction  relationships  chitchat  photography  cameras 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why Your Family Name Did Not Come From a Mistake at Ellis Island | Mental Floss
"When my great-grandfather Yuroslav Hieronymous O’Kagan vaan de Schulevitzberg arrived at Ellis Island in 1909 he didn’t speak much English. He was 17 and hoping to make his fortune quickly and bring the rest of his family over from the old country. He knew he would be asked a number of questions at arrival about his occupation, his health status, his living arrangements, etc., and he was prepared. As he approached the immigration officer, the first American he had ever met, the answers tumbled out in a nervous jumble, “Work factory! No coff-coff! Tooths very good! Go to Chicago! Buy house! Big house!”

The officer shook his head, laughed, and asked, “Name?”

Thinking the officer was mocking his presumptuous housing plan, he replied, “OK. OK … rent.” And that’s how we became the Okrent family.

This story is not true. Most stories of this kind are not true. Because, as Philip Sutton of the New York Public Library explains, the inspectors at Ellis Island “did not create records of immigration; rather they checked the names of the people moving through Ellis Island against those recorded in the ship’s passenger list, or manifest.” No names were changed at Ellis Island, because no names were taken at Ellis Island.

It is also highly unlikely that such comically inept communication would have ever taken place at Ellis Island. According to this article at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Ellis Island immigrant inspectors all “spoke an average of three languages. They were assigned to inspect immigrant groups based on the languages they spoke. If the inspector could not communicate, Ellis Island employed a full-time army of interpreters and would call in temporary interpreters under contract to translate for immigrants speaking the most obscure tongues.”

So how did Jensen become Johnson, Koenigsberger become Kingsley, Mlodzianowski become Murphy, and so on? In some cases, names were entered incorrectly on the passenger list when travelers bought their tickets abroad. For example, a Portuguese named Teixeira, leaving from a French port, might have been entered as Techera. These types of mistakes were in fact sometimes corrected by Ellis Island inspectors (by lightly marking corrections, at the request of the passenger, above the name written in the manifest).

In other cases, immigrants were given alternate names by neighbors, bosses, co-workers, or teachers who couldn’t pronounce the originals. Those alternate names were then adopted by the immigrants when they submitted their applications for naturalization. Though the idea for the new name might have come from someone else, the name did not become official unless the immigrant chose to make it official when becoming a citizen.

The name you used when you applied for your naturalization papers did not have to match the manifest at Ellis Island. Names were adjusted, sometimes slightly, in order to fit new surroundings, and sometimes drastically, in order to fit new identities. My name, which was Okręt in the old country, was changed to Okrent to get as close as possible to the intended pronunciation (the ę is a nasalized e in Polish). Official name changes did not come about through haphazard errors, but because immigrants deliberately chose them. Chalk it up to the urge to assimilate, the drive for self-reinvention, or the excitement of using a freedom they hadn’t had before, but don’t blame it on the hardworking, multilingual clerks at Ellis Island."
history  arikaokrent  ellisisland  immigration  us  spelling  names  naming  2015  myths  ins  surnames 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Dyslexia or Right-Brained Dominant? | The Right Side of Normal
"At this time, reading instruction tends to begin at 4 and 5 years old with phonics. Even with the wonderful news that researchers are starting to notice dyslexia comes with strengths, no one is questioning that the one-size-fits-all left-brained supported reading instruction and time frame may be a huge contributing factor to reading difficulties in right-brained children. I would like to see the different reading methods and time frames for right-brained children recognized and honored right alongside their left-brained peers. One learner is receiving a well-matched learning environment, and one isn’t and being labeled for not being able to perform.

If education can’t be individualized to at least left-brained and right-brained developmental learning methods and time frames, and if the one-size-fits-all must continue, then I suggest using a Waldorf or Montessori style of 5 to 7 year reading exposure. The reason I say this is because left-brained, two-dimensional viewers can turn three-dimensional representations into two-dimensional objects easy enough. But it’s much more difficult for a right-brained, three-dimensional picture viewer to turn a two-dimensional symbol into a three-dimensional object. This sometimes causes issues such as blurring, moving, or reversing letters as Ronald Davis points out in his experiences.

There is an identifiable set of strengths and traits that come with being right-brained dominant. Like any holistic descriptor, there’s variation based on individual factors. Some right-brained children will learn to read before age 8, many right-brained children will learn to read between 8 and 10 years old, and some right-brained children will learn to read after age 10. A smaller percentage of these will continue to struggle based on the very strengths that come with being right-brained. As shown in the video at the beginning, success can still occur despite continued reading difficulties, again, because of these right-brained strengths.

I could continue and talk about the ADHD connection to being right-brained, the auditory factor with dyslexia, and also outline the natural learning path for right-brained spelling, writing, and math fact learning. But, that’s why I wrote my book, The Right Side of Normal, to have all this information in one place cohesively explained and outlined for those interested in supporting this for their right-brained children. I wanted to reiterate my position that the right-brained information must be properly implemented first before we can see where something like dyslexia really exists and can be defined. When we honor and celebrate the natural strengths of being right-brained from the start, we’ll see them flourish and thrive in their learning lives. More of them will seamlessly and joyfully transition into reading at their optimal developmental time frame. And all of us will recognize and even expect early on all the gifts and talents they offer our world."

"From my perspective and belief, there’s no such thing as a “dyslexic mind” and a “right-brained learner.” They are one in the same. The defnition of dyslexia should be a right-brained learner who continues to struggle with reading and such after the appropriate developmental time frame, and after a well-matched learning environment up until that point. I feel strongly we would see much less dyslexia if this criteria and learning environment were upheld, as Linda shared about the Sudbury Valley School. And for those who still may have dyslexia, like my two younger children may, with a strengths-based, developmental upbringing, mine still had joyful childhoods, engaged learning lives, and positive self-images. Everyone deserves that, no matter their weak areas, because there are always strengths to be nourished."
dyslexia  learning  reading  teaching  2013  spelling  education  writing  cindygaddis 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Something About How Steve Roggenbuck's Poetry Will Save the Internet
[See also: ]

"Twenty-six-year-old Roggenbuck, a self-declared “internet poet,” is the antidote. Since 2010 Roggenbuck has been an obsessive user of Twitter, Facebook and multiple Tumblrs, but his best work is his YouTube videos. In these videos, he spews hysterical riffs and one-liners of wildly varying comprehensibility to a camera he points at himself, usually to the backing of an exhilarating electronic soundtrack, usually somewhere beautiful outside.

His most popular video is "make something beautiful before you are dead." I first saw it two years ago on a friend’s Tumblr and I was struck by Roggenbuck's raw vlogger solipsism, which would be grating if it weren’t backed up by equally raw virtuosity. The video starts quietly. Roggenbuck's in a room, affecting a piercing nasal midwestern twang as he muses to the camera about how he's "going to find the best deal."

It's a parody of every boring YouTube video blog you've seen, which Roggenbuck sets up only to explode seconds later in a dizzying epiphany. Suddenly he's outside in the woods, still holding his camera, popping out from bushes, shouting "two words, Jackass: Dog the Bounty Hunter," swinging an enormous tree branch and berating a dead tree stump for not being alive. Roggenbuck appears to have just broken out from a dark basement where he'd been imprisoned from a young age, raised entirely on AOL chatrooms, reality TV and Monster Energy Drinks. He's exhilaratingly callous about his own body, holding his camera inches from face despite a pretty intense outbreak of acne, at times so excited by his own words that the camera jerks crazily up and down with every cheesy self-help exhortation. When Roggenbuck yells "Get me in control of ABC Family and I will fuck this country up" while sprinting through a drizzly field to a dubstep soundtrack you feel like you're watching neurons firing and forging strange connections in real time. It's a selfie of the soul.

As impressive as the video is the outpouring of adoration in comments under "make something beautiful before you are dead." Most YouTube comments are petri dishes of cutting-edge hate speech, but a community of ebullient Roggenbuck worshipers has turned his comments sections into a virtual self-help seminar."

"Steve Roggenbuck would horrify the Jonathan Franzens of the world. Poetry is supposed to be serious and introspective—the opposite of the superficial, buzzing, electronic hellscape that critics imagine the internet to be. According Roggenbuck’s own creation myth, he's a product of that polarity: As an MFA student, he began to focus on the internet after one of his instructors commented on his misspelled, dashed-off-seeming poems, "save this for your blog." (He dropped out of the MFA program.)

But "save this for your blog" isn't quite the insult an MFA professor might image. New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman (!) recently wrote about how poetry was once passed among networks of elites, "allow[ing] people both to discuss sensitive topics elliptically and to demonstrate their cleverness." Elliptical demonstrations of cleverness: Imagine what they would have thought of Tumblr! And the internet is more than just a staging ground—it's a huge source of inspiration and material for young artists, poets, technologists and writers.

Anyone who wants to understand the internet generation would do well to pay attention to Roggenbuck's oeuvre. It can be hard to get past Roggenbuck's aggressive naivety and goofy schtick, which can come across like the twee mirror to the strident net freedom diatribes of Wikileaks fanatics and hacktvists. You could say he's way too uncritical about the incentives embedded in the technologies he uses—created by huge corporations whose exact goal is to encourage the sharing he craves—and how that might negatively affect his work. But this is just to point out that are as many flaws in the the structures of the internet as there are in the people embedded in them. The best of Roggenbuck's work shows there's equally as much promise."

[See also:

NC: Why did you drop out of your MFA program?

SR: i think if my life conditions were different, i never would have gone. i never had any illusons that it was going to magicaly transform my writeing, or that teaching was the perfect career fit for me. after undergrad i was in a long-term relationship, and we were planning to have a family in the next ~5 years. i felt like i needed to pursue a “career” that would bring in an income big enough to support a family. but i am also very stubborn about doing what i want with my tiem. i hate having a job, last year i maxed out my credit cards instead of getting a summer job. the mfa was kind of a compromise between what i really wanted (to be an artist all the time) and what was expected of me (standard middle-class career path)

i gained some things from my mfa experience.. i now have an acute awareness of what i don’t like about academic/lit culture, for exampel. i started fully embraceing my identity as an “internet poet” only after my workshop teacher left me a condescending comment on my poem, “save this stuff for your blog.” with my misspellings too, i was fueled by my teacher’s disapproval

i never really liked the progam too much, but when my long-term relationship ended, i felt like i finaly had other options. i could live with my dad for free (or with various friends, as i eventualy decided), or i could at least split rent with more roommates in a cheaper neighborhood, without bothering/disappointing my partner

also my school started grating on me in more fundamental ways this past fall. my core audience is not poets in academia.. so why should i be seeking feedback from (only) poets in academia? i would get comments from my teachers, for example discouraging my misspellings, and i would kind of just dismiss them because i know they arent realy my main audience. but if i they’re not my audience, why am i asking for their feedback in the frist place? the feedback ive gotten from friends online has been much more valuable" ]

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via:timmaly  steveroggenbuck  poetry  internet  twitter  socalmedia  mfa  youtube  writing  reading  spelling  teaching  learning  graduateschool  highered  highereducation  literature  jonathanfranzen  daveeggers  kennethgoldsmith  piotrczerki  youth  life  living  thoreau  waltwhitman  yolo  commenting  video  literacy  schooliness  creativity  education 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Botella al mar para el dios de las palabras - Gabriel García Márquez - Ciudad Seva
"A mis 12 años de edad estuve a punto de ser atropellado por una bicicleta. Un señor cura que pasaba me salvó con un grito: «¡Cuidado!»

El ciclista cayó a tierra. El señor cura, sin detenerse, me dijo: «¿Ya vio lo que es el poder de la palabra?» Ese día lo supe. Ahora sabemos, además, que los mayas lo sabían desde los tiempos de Cristo, y con tanto rigor que tenían un dios especial para las palabras.

Nunca como hoy ha sido tan grande ese poder. La humanidad entrará en el tercer milenio bajo el imperio de las palabras. No es cierto que la imagen esté desplazándolas ni que pueda extinguirlas. Al contrario, está potenciándolas: nunca hubo en el mundo tantas palabras con tanto alcance, autoridad y albedrío como en la inmensa Babel de la vida actual. Palabras inventadas, maltratadas o sacralizadas por la prensa, por los libros desechables, por los carteles de publicidad; habladas y cantadas por la radio, la televisión, el cine, el teléfono, los altavoces públicos; gritadas a brocha gorda en las paredes de la calle o susurradas al oído en las penumbras del amor. No: el gran derrotado es el silencio. Las cosas tienen ahora tantos nombres en tantas lenguas que ya no es fácil saber cómo se llaman en ninguna. Los idiomas se dispersan sueltos de madrina, se mezclan y confunden, disparados hacia el destino ineluctable de un lenguaje global.

La lengua española tiene que prepararse para un oficio grande en ese porvenir sin fronteras. Es un derecho histórico. No por su prepotencia económica, como otras lenguas hasta hoy, sino por su vitalidad, su dinámica creativa, su vasta experiencia cultural, su rapidez y su fuerza de expansión, en un ámbito propio de 19 millones de kilómetros cuadrados y 400 millones de hablantes al terminar este siglo. Con razón un maestro de letras hispánicas en Estados Unidos ha dicho que sus horas de clase se le van en servir de intérprete entre latinoamericanos de distintos países. Llama la atención que el verbo pasar tenga 54 significados, mientras en la República de Ecuador tienen 105 nombres para el órgano sexual masculino, y en cambio la palabra condoliente, que se explica por sí sola, y que tanta falta nos hace, aún no se ha inventado. A un joven periodista francés lo deslumbran los hallazgos poéticos que encuentra a cada paso en nuestra vida doméstica. Que un niño desvelado por el balido intermitente y triste de un cordero dijo: «Parece un faro». Que una vivandera de la Guajira colombiana rechazó un cocimiento de toronjil porque le supo a Viernes Santo. Que don Sebastián de Covarrubias, en su diccionario memorable, nos dejó escrito de su puño y letra que el amarillo es «la color» de los enamorados. ¿Cuántas veces no hemos probado nosotros mismos un café que sabe a ventana, un pan que sabe a rincón, una cerveza que sabe a beso?

Son pruebas al canto de la inteligencia de una lengua que desde hace tiempo no cabe en su pellejo. Pero nuestra contribución no debería ser la de meterla en cintura, sino al contrario, liberarla de sus fierros normativos para que entre en el siglo venturo como Pedro por su casa. En ese sentido me atrevería a sugerir ante esta sabia audiencia que simplifiquemos la gramática antes de que la gramática termine por simplificarnos a nosotros. Humanicemos sus leyes, aprendamos de las lenguas indígenas a las que tanto debemos lo mucho que tienen todavía para enseñarnos y enriquecernos, asimilemos pronto y bien los neologismos técnicos y científicos antes de que se nos infiltren sin digerir, negociemos de buen corazón con los gerundios bárbaros, los qués endémicos, el dequeísmo parasitario, y devuélvamos al subjuntivo presente el esplendor de sus esdrújulas: váyamos en vez de vayamos, cántemos en vez de cantemos, o el armonioso muéramos en vez del siniestro muramos. Jubilemos la ortografía, terror del ser humano desde la cuna: enterremos las haches rupestres, firmemos un tratado de límites entre la ge y jota, y pongamos más uso de razón en los acentos escritos, que al fin y al cabo nadie ha de leer lagrima donde diga lágrima ni confundirá revólver con revolver. ¿Y qué de nuestra be de burro y nuestra ve de vaca, que los abuelos españoles nos trajeron como si fueran dos y siempre sobra una?

Son preguntas al azar, por supuesto, como botellas arrojadas a la mar con la esperanza de que le lleguen al dios de las palabras. A no ser que por estas osadías y desatinos, tanto él como todos nosotros terminemos por lamentar, con razón y derecho, que no me hubiera atropellado a tiempo aquella bicicleta providencial de mis 12 años."
via:anne  gabrielgarcíamárquez  language  spanish  español  words  meaning  communication  spelling  ortografía  grammar 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Anguish beyond whirrs | Wrong Dreams
"Written in response to an essay on the New Sincerity, this offhand comment on poetry blog htmlgiant seems to express a fundamental anxiety around what we consider to be authentic, sincere and true in a world where automated programmes are increasingly responsible for both writing and distributing text. This tweet captures a similar sentiment, one that resonates across online space:

[embedded image]

that mistakes are more human, less bot and conversely, that well-written, grammatically correct statements are more contrived and mediated, because they point to the intrusion of automated technology.

Put another way- only a human decides to leave something uncorrected. Word helpfully underlines your mistakes, Skype makes its own adjustments as you type and the iPhone’s hilariously potty-mouthed corrections are regularly shared on Damn You Auto Correct (presumably it picks up words like fuckweasel, butthole and jizz off its owners?)

Keeping the mistakes becomes, therefore, a gesture of asserting human agency, making visible an active choice on the part of a human author in defiance of the ‘correct’ version a bot is programmed to deliver. Or, in its imperfection a ‘badly spelled sext’ (or other message) conveys an urgency, immediacy and therefore sincerity; scribbled in a hurry and sent off before second thoughts/ regret sets in, it becomes a display of vulnerability, fallibility and ultimately humanity.

Badly spelt and punctuated writing also quietly rebels against the slick, well-considered and crafted copy employed by corporate entities, in their slogans, email bulletins and adverts. It communicates a willingness to relinquish image-management and show your ‘real’ self, letting your image slip in a way that no brand would- unless of course it was calculated to come across as more ‘authentic’ (coming to a billboard near you, Coke/ Nike/ Converse ads with crap spelling…just you wait).

What it amounts to is a suspicion that if it’s well written, some non-human agent was involved, which points to the either corporate or technological mediation.

Sincerity effects

As an artistic strategy, keeping the mistakes in has a similar ‘sincerity effect’, suggesting an intimacy and vulnerability that Tracey Emin and to a lesser, funnier extent Laure Provost and doubtless many others have (intentionally or not) made use of. AD Jameson argues (again on htmlgiant) that in Steve Roggenbuck’s work, “persistent typos signal that the work has been written quickly, spontaneously, and is therefore less revised” and “more earnest.” He shows how contemporary poets- many, like Steve Roeggenbuck and Tao Lin, associated with the New Sincerity- are experimenting with ways of writing that can “create the illusion of transparency, of direct communication”, pointing out the irony that they use devices, or methods- which are a kind of artifice- in order to seemingly go beyond artifice and set up a ‘direct’, unmediated connection between poet and reader.

Devices include emulating the meandering flow of a G-chat through broken, stilted conversation, time elisions and slack, no-caps grammar; or channeling the ‘20 open tabs’ mentality of online drift by absent-mindedly switching between ‘deep’ shit (life/ death/ whatever) and inconsequential observations about the colour of the sky:


Another tactic is oscillating between different levels of intimacy, which reflects the juggling of simultaneous conversations with mothers, employers and lovers all on the same device; as Senthorun Raj points out in an piece about Grindr, users must calibrate their tone depending on whether they’re texting Mr Right or Mr Right Now, which requires demanding emotional labour."
writing  bots  ericscourti  human  humans  sincerity  vulnerability  2013  flaws  seams  spelling  social  newsincerity  grammar  errors  mistakes  autocorrect  fallibility  humanity  punctuation  mediation  authenticity  squishynotslick  copywriting 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Bad spellers are a breed apart from good ones. A... - more than 95 theses
“Bad spellers are a breed apart from good ones. A writer with a mind that doesn’t register how words are spelled tends to see through the words he encounters — straight to the things, characters, ideas, images and emotions they conjure. A good speller, by contrast — the kind who never fails to clock the idiosyncratic orthography of “algorithm” or “Albert Pujols” — tends to see language as a system. Good spellers are often drawn to poetry and wordplay, while bad spellers, for whom language is a conduit and not an end in itself, can excel at representation and reportage.”
What Typos Mean to Book Publishing -
spelling  grammar  writing  via:lukeneff 
june 2012 by robertogreco
tcsnmy6 - When the topic of phonetic spelling (and calendar...
"When the topic of phonetic spelling (and calendar systems and the metric system) came out of our A Little History of the World discussion this morning I promised to share with you a video which points out the absurdity of our spelling conventions and the call to change them. It’s above. There is a better quality verision here.

The man in the video is Ed Rondthaler who recently passed away at the age of 104. He promoted a system of phonetic spelling called Soundspel.

Related: Back in April I pointed out another “Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling.” And here is a poem that pokes fun at English pronunciation."

[Can't ever find this when I need it. Hope this bookmark helps.]

[See also: ]

[This too: ]
edwardrondthaler  spelling  english  phonetics  poetry  soundspel  pronunciation  tcsnmy  tcsnmy6  unschooling  deschooling 
april 2011 by robertogreco
I Love Charts – Every newspaper in New York spells Qaddafi’s name...
"Every newspaper in New York spells Qaddafi’s name differently, so I figured I’d look it up on Wikipedia. They really cleared it up for me."
spelling  journalism  charts  gaddafi  wikipedia  visualization  combinations 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Language Log » A doubtful benevolence: Mark Twain on spelling
"Mark Twain:

"As I have said before, I never had any large respect for good spelling. That is my feeling yet. Before the spelling book came with its arbitrary forms, men unconsciously revealed shades of their characters, and also added enlightening shades of expression to what they wrote by their spelling, and so it is possible that the spelling book has been a doubtful benevolence to us."

He leads up to this conclusion with a curious theory of orthographico-genetic determinism, illustrated from personal experience:

"The ability to spell is a natural gift. The person not born with it can never become perfect in it. I was always able to spell correctly. My wife, and her sister, Mrs. Crane, were always bad spellers. Once when Clara was a little chap, her mother was away from home for a few days, and Clara wrote her a small letter every day. When her mother returned, she praised Clara's letters. Then she said, "But in one of them, Clara, you spelled a word wrong.""
language  spelling  marktwain  english  genetics  humor  rewards  childhood  dyslexia  writing  intelligence  cv 
december 2010 by robertogreco
"SpellCheckPlus" Online Spelling and Grammar Checker for English as a Second Language
""SpellCheckPlus" is a grammar checker that finds common spelling errors and grammatical mistakes in English

Simply type (or paste) your text into the window below and hit the "check text" button."
grammar  english  spellcheck  writing  spelling  onlinetoolkit  teaching  classideas  spellcheckplus  editing 
december 2010 by robertogreco
D- The Interactive Spelling Wrecker
"D- takes your perfectly good spelling and makes it horrible. Besides making common spelling errors, it also switches homonyms, makes typing errors and can add unwanted comments to your writing.<br />
<br />
You can type directly into the text box, or you can paste text in from another application (like a word processor) or from the web. (Please note that there is occasionally a bug that requires you to "Paste" twice before the text shows up.) "
spelling  humor  software  spellingwrecker  writing  craighickman 
november 2010 by robertogreco
The Best Language Tools for Geeks
"No matter your command of the English language, we all have trouble defining, pronouncing, or even remembering certain words, which makes writing tough. Here are some of the best tools to help you out.

We talked about online language tools for nerds a couple years ago, and today we're revisiting it with newer and better options. This list isn't exhaustive, but it's some of our favorite tools we've found—and even make use of on a daily basis—to help in our writing."
dictionary  language  lifehacker  reference  classideas  english  vocabulary  tools  research  wolframalpha  search  definitions  wordsearch  pronunciation  phrases  spelling  grammar  thesaurus  dictionaries  definition  words  via:robinsloan 
november 2010 by robertogreco
New Spanish spelling guide to modernize language when new rules adopted in Mexico -
"Spanish speakers will have to get used to a host of new spelling rules, including writing Irak instead of Iraq & Catar instead of Qatar, under proposals to modernize the language expected to be adopted this month…

The Spanish Royal Language Academy said Friday the new orthographic guide for world's second-most spoken tongue is to be ratified by the language's 22 international academies when they meet Nov. 28 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

"It's the fruit of detailed & very reasoned research," said Salvador Gutierrez, a Spanish academic who helped coordinate the work. "The aim is to have coherent spelling & avoid linguistic dispersion."

The proposals include referring to the letter "y'' as "ye" instead of the Greek "i'' as it's been known for as long as anyone can recall.

The guardians of the language also decided that speakers in Latin America should no longer refer to "b''s & "v''s as long & short "b''s, respectively, but instead call them "'beys" & "ubeys" as Spaniards do."
language  spanish  español  spelling  conventions  writing  alphabet  2010  realacademiaespañola 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Dyslexia Software | Dyslexia Writing | Dyslexia Spelling
"Spelling is an integral part of the writing process. Confidence in spelling often has a profound effect on a writer's self-image. With Ghotit, you can write confidently, continuing to misspell as you always have, but with the confidence that Ghotit is there with you to review your writing and offer the right spelling text corrections.

Ghotit intelligent, context spell checker is the original spell checker developed by dyslexics for dyslexics"
spelling  learningdisabilities  education  dyslexia  disability  writing  technology  spellcheck  spellchecker  disabilities 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Future Perfect » Realities Distorted
"What happens when a large reflective surface (high resolution outdoor display) is able to call upon: people and eye+ tracking; and has an ambient awareness of it’s context including a fine-grained understanding (photographs, 3D data) of its immediate surroundings; and knows your augmented reality preferences i.e. whether and how to augment. Given that what’s right for you is wrong for the next person in what contexts will this best work?

You know that feeling you get today when a text box is just a text box – no auto-complete, to spelling correction – one day you’ll feel the same twinge of frustration when you’re interacting with a surface that you mistook for a surface+."
janchipchase  displays  future  textboxes  autocomplete  spelling  eyetracking  reflective  reflectivesurfaces  augmentedreality  ar 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Language Log: Hed, dek, lede, graf, tk: live with it
"The legend is that the strange spellings of these words were developed in order to help distinguish meta-journalistic comments in copy (e.g. "dek tk") from the stuff that's meant to be printed. I have no idea whether that's true. But several of these terms are useful, however spelled. In particular, dek/deck and lede/lead don't really have any good alternatives; and graf and hed are conveniently reduced forms of paragraph and headline; and tk is a lot more succinct than "to be supplied at some point in the future", or whatever.
english  jargon  journalism  language  abbreviations  spelling  misspellings 
august 2010 by robertogreco
The kid who couldn’t spell (from the archives) « Re-educate
"I asked a friend who works at a progressive school how he handles kids with glaring deficiencies in subjects that are deemed important by society: subjects like writing and spelling. “I’ll tell a student, you don’t have to write perfectly for me every time. But for times when it needs to be perfect, you need to show me that you know how you can deliver perfect.”
stevemiranda  pscs  tcsnmy  writing  spelling  necessity  curriculum  self-directedlearning  pugetsoundcommunityschool 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Teabonics - a set on Flickr
"These are signs seen primarily at Tea Party Protests.

They all feature "creative" spelling or grammar.

This new dialect of the English language shall be known as "Teabonics.""
conservatives  humor  language  teabaggers  teaparty  grammar  english  healthcare  spelling  teabonics 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Genetic and environmental influences on prereading skills and early reading and spelling development in the United States, Australia, and Scandinavia [.pdf]
"Genetic & environmental influences on prereading skills in preschool & on early reading & spelling development at the end of kindergarten were compared among samples of identical & fraternal twins from the US, Australia, & Scandinavia. Mean comparisons revealed significantly lower preschool print knowledge in Scandinavia, consistent with the relatively lower amount of shared book reading & letter-based activities w/ parents, & lack of emphasis on print knowledge in Scandinavian preschools. The patterns of correlations between all preschool environment measures & prereading skills within the samples were remarkably similar, as were the patterns of genetic, shared environment, & non-shared environment estimates: in all samples, genetic influence was substantial & shared environment influence was relatively weak for phonological awareness, rapid naming, & verbal memory..."
literacy  learning  reading  scandinavia  us  australia  instruction  preschool  spelling  filetype:pdf  media:document 
march 2010 by robertogreco
ongoing · After Branding
So much great advice. I'm highlighting this one because I was just warning a friend about the same a few days ago. "8. Do not invest any time or money with anyone whose title, or company name, includes the words “Search Engine” or the abbreviations “SEO” or “SEM”. While one hears that there are a few honest souls out there, lots are just looking for sheep to fleece; don’t be one.
design  culture  homepage  socialnetworking  identity  networking  reputation  presence  business  web  webdev  blogging  marketing  spelling  personal-branding  timbray  internet  branding  seo  sem  flash  glvo  via:cburell  webdesign 
january 2010 by robertogreco
tutpup - play, compete, learn
"Our aim is to provide simple, fun, competitive games that help children learn and gain confidence with Maths, English and other key skills and knowledge."
math  games  spelling  literacy  english  competition  online  learning  practice  children  teaching  skills  elementary  education  reading  puzzles 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Edit Mac OS X's custom spelling dictionary - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)
"Mac OS X's built-in spell checking abilities are fantastic, but what if you need to edit the custom list of words you've been building, or you want to nail a few birds with one stone by adding a collection of words in one fell swoop?"
mac  osx  spelling  dictionary  hacks  tips  howto  dictionaries 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Edit Firefox’s Spelling Dictionary ·
"Firefox allows you to easily add words to dictionary, but lacks a user interface for removing words...problem since “Add to dictionary” button is directly under corrected words, providing easy access for adding misspelled words to dictionary."
firefox  spelling  dictionary  software  hacks  howto  tips  dictionaries 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Fun little article by Grant Barrett about people saying words wrong on purpose (
"I use several of these mispronunciations regularly...Nucular, saxamaphone, muscles with Popeye's hard c, computor, robit for robot, etc. Those of you who speak other this a common behavior outside of English?" + comments
english  language  linguistics  wordplay  slang  pronunciation  kottke  fun  spelling 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Ghoti - Wikipedia
"Ghoti is a constructed example used to illustrate irregularities in English spelling. It is a respelling of the word fish, and like it is pronounced /ˈfɪʃ/."

"Ghoti is a constructed word used to illustrate irregularities in English spelling. It is a respelling of the word fish: i.e., it is supposed to be pronounced /ˈfɪʃ/. It comprises these phonemes:

gh, pronounced /f/ as in tough /tʌf/;
o, pronounced /ɪ/ as in women /ˈwɪmɪn/; and
ti, pronounced /ʃ/ as in nation /ˈneɪʃən/.

An early known published reference is in 1874, citing an 1855 letter that credits ghoti to one William Ollier Jr (born 1824).[1] Ghoti is often cited to support the English spelling reform, and is often attributed to George Bernard Shaw,[2] a supporter of this cause. However, the word does not appear in Shaw's writings,[1] and a biography of Shaw attributes it instead to an anonymous spelling reformer.[3] Similar constructed words exist that demonstrate English idiosyncrasies,[4] but ghoti is the most widely recognized. Linguists have pointed out that the location of the letters in the constructed word is inconsistent with how those letters would be pronounced in those placements, and that the expected pronunciation in English would be "goaty".[4] For instance, the letters "gh" cannot be pronounced /f/ at the beginning of a syllable, and the letters "ti" cannot be pronounced /ʃ/ at the end of a syllable."
english  language  pronunciation  spelling  words 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Main Page - Free-reading
"Free-Reading is an ongoing, collaborative, teacher-based, curriculum-sharing experiment. We're looking to provide a reliable forum where teachers can openly and freely share their successful and effective methods for teaching reading in grades K-1."
reading  instruction  activities  curriculum  books  free  kids  literacy  children  teaching  wiki  schools  opensource  phonics  elearning  ebooks  audio  lessons  spelling  education  preschool  elementary  english  writing 
november 2007 by robertogreco
AskOxford: Ask the Experts
"We have built a database of some of the questions sent in to the Oxford Word and Language Service team, so it is likely that if your question is a fairly broad one on grammar, usage, or words then it will be answered here. Simply choose a category and th
english  language  grammar  reference  semantics  spelling  symbols  dictionary  usage  words  writing  linguistics  dictionaries 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Excellence in Writing
"Discover how you can learn to teach writing to your students without having to buy curriculum every year."
homeschool  writing  spelling  curriculum  education  tutorials 
september 2007 by robertogreco
apophenia: dystruktshun of inglesh as we no
"Can we blame the lack of meaningful namespaces for the destruction of English? Perhaps."
language  english  namespaces  registration  teens  online  internet  identity  writing  communication  spelling 
may 2007 by robertogreco
collision detection: LOL: Study shows short-forms comprise only 2.4% of teenage IMs
"So I was intrigued to find a study of teenage IM chat that found that nu-wave short forms comprise a mere 2.4 per cent of their communications."
language  english  writing  children  teens  spelling  mobile  phones  text  im  grammar 
october 2006 by robertogreco
"Those usages people keep telling you are wrong but which are actually standard in English."
english  grammar  language  speech  linguistics  spelling  writing  communication  reference  vocabulary  words  etymology  editing 
september 2006 by robertogreco
TOYPS - monochrom's collection of aesthetically beautiful typing errors
"A collection of aesthetically beautiful typing errors of the so-called >English< language. An unpretenitous listong."
humor  language  words  spelling  text 
august 2006 by robertogreco

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