4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Review of the reviewers
, 10 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Spelling it out (Kindle Edition)
Some of the reviews of this new book on English spelling seem to include quite a bit of misinformation. I will address a few of them:
"There are better accounts of the English language and its spelling. Don't waste your money on this one."
Major: There are a number of good books on English spelling but I think this one breaks some new ground.
You don't have to spend any money to read 50% of the book. From the sample, you should be able to determine
if this book is of interest or useful to you. Some of the critics seem to be more interested in book burning.
"self published books are no use to a philologist or educator"
Major: Not all of Mrs. Bell's books are self published. This one may be. The book is not that different from books by old members of the philological society. Most phonics teachers are aware of the irregularities in English spelling. Masha Bell obviously thinks that most people and perhaps most elementary teachers lack this awareness.
One thread you will find in Bell's books that is generally lacking in the mainstream books on English spelling is that irregularities in English spelling increase the time required to teach children to read and write and have other social consequences. You will find this thread in older books on spelling improvement but they quickly move on because their goal is to teach people how to deal with traditional spelling.
"A dictionary that has different spellings to those found in (Bell's) books would be useless."
Major: English dictionaries unlike the dictionaries for most other languages have two spellings. One for the traditional spelling and one for the pronunciation. The two spellings rarely match. though=/'tho/ Mrs. Bell tries to suggest a way that the written word might begin to approximate the pronunciation guide spelling in the dictionary by consistently applying existing rules. *enny penny, *verry berry are two examples of consistently applying the double consonant rule.
"...shows how our spelling system came to be the way it is and what the costs are to us all." There are plenty of old books on this topic but Bell's new book provides a good summary. Like any attempt at word etymology, there may be some speculation involved. If the critic has a problem with a statement in the book, they should debate it rather than try to prevent readers from being exposed to an assertion they don't agree with.
Phonics advocates usually argue that written English is much more regular than it seems. This clashes with Bell's analysis which seems to that English spelling may be much worse than most people think.
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