I've got a backlog of great questions that I've been getting in my inbox from teachers getting started with scientific investigation of spelling during my workshops down under. This is the first of a few that I hope to share here on Real Spellers.
 
The email below comes from Grade 6 teacher Scott. This question could easily have been posted in the "orthography forum" rather than the "beginners forum. The reason I posted it here is that I was so impressed with the clarity and precision with which Scott has posed his question.  For those new to this work, I wanted to draw your attention to how Scott presents the thinking of his class and presents their hypotheses with complete word sums. 
 
Scott and his class have followed a scientific process to arrive at a number of excellent hypotheses and when they reached a point where they had proposed structures like <-ci> suffix that they couldn't make sense of, they new it was time to organize their thinking and share it with others that might be able to help. 
 
Also, for those new to Real Spellers, notice how the text within the angle brackets <> is always in bold. That's becaue if you don't bold text within those brackets, the text will be blank. 
 
I'm going to resist offering my response as I'm keen to introduce others to this question. I know Scott's class will enjoy getting to meet some other orthographic scientists around the world!
 
Hi Pete,
 
Hope you are well as you come up to the end of your time at Wesley!
 
I have a question for you that came from my spelling class yesterday.
 
We were looking at the word <magician> yesterday as a lot of the kids had problems spelling it earlier in the year. We spoke about what was causing them trouble and looked at their original spelling which included <magition> and <magicion>. From there we spoke about how we were trying to spell through sound and finding the meaning of the word would give us more understanding.
 
From there we spoke about various hypothesis that we could have. They were:
 
magic + ian --> magician
magic + i + an --> magician
 
As we started to look at these though we further explored what we thought was the base word <magic> and one of the kids said that <mage> may be the base word. So the word sum we came up with was:
 
mage/ + ici + an --> magician
 
To me this could have fit in because of words such as <image> etc.
 
We searched for  the suffix –ici and we couldn’t find it, although we will further research it. The other possibility we then had for the base word of <magic> was <magi> and we found examples of this word in use. The word sum was:
 
magi + ci + an --> magician
 
The issue with this was the  <–ci> suffix for us.
 
This is where we are up to and we are not sure which one is the right one, or indeed if there is another line of inquiry we should follow!
 
Cheers
Scott

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