Recently in working with my student we came across the word <valuable>, I am finding myself questioning that we replace the final <e> and replace it with the vowel suffix <-able>.  

I write the word sum:

<valu/e> + <-able> --> valuable

I am questioning replacing the <e> because I am seeing it as part of a vowel digraph and I would not think it possible to remove part of it. 

I have asked the following questions:

is the <e> a single non syllabic <e> ?  Possibly because I believe English words do not end in <u> therefore <e> is there to prevent that final <u>

In that case, are we able to take the letter <e> away?

 

??

  • Wonderful question Noreen!

    You have uncovered some rich questions here that I am still working through. I am delighted to share where my current thinking is...

    Like you, I have been operating with the working hypothesis that we don't change part of a grapheme (digraph or trigraph) during suffixing. My hypothesis is that this is why we don't change the <y> to an <i> when adding a suffix if there is a vowel letter immediately before that <y>. I take <ay>, <ey>, <uy>, <oy> to be digraphs, and thus we don't change part of the digraph when adding a suffix. I don't know if there are any situations where we change part of a digraph or trigraph during suffixing -- but it is questions like yours that have helped me refine my thinking.

    It seems to me that while we might think of <ue> as a digraph -- and thus reject the above hypothesis -- there is another way that I look at this. We know that we can't spell the base <value> without that final, non-syllabic <e> ( *<valu> ) because that would conflict with the convention that no complete English word ends in <u>, write <ue>. So this suggests to me that we do not have a digraph <ue> in words like <value> but a grapheme <u> followed by an orthographic marker <e> that in this case functions to prevent a word ending in <u>. With that understanding, this word sum does not challenge our hypothesis of not changing part of a digraph in suffixing:

    value/ + able --> valuable

    There is another place where your question has made me wonder -- and that is with what I had taken to be the <dge> trigraph. If that is a trigraph, then we have problems with a word sum like these:

    judge/ + ing --> judging
    grudge/ + es --> grudges (need the <-es> since this suffix is syllabic)
    smudge/ + ed --> smudged

    So my wondering here is if this is really a trigraph <dge>, or perhaps it is better conceived of as a digraph <dg> with a marker <e>. The question is what is that marker <e> doing exactly?

    We know that the <g> grapheme cannot represent /ʤ/ unless it is followed by an <e>, <i>, or <y>, so we have the <e> acting as a phonological marker at the end of words like <package> or <page>. Perhaps we could think of <dg> as a digraph with a marker <e> then?

    I'm not sure about all this, but I'm sure you are onto a rich vein to investigate. I'll point others to this question to see if we can develop a clearer understanding.

    I will say that I've been really fascinated by diving in to "orthographic markers" I think that this is a particularly rich area of orthography that has much to reveal to us. Gina has been using the term "literal markers" I think -- which I think really works well.

    Let's see where we go next!

    Cheers,

    Pete

    Comment last edited on about 7 months ago by Pete
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  • Pete,

    You said: So this suggests to me that we do not have a digraph <ue> in words like <value> but a grapheme <u> followed by an orthographic marker <e> that in this case functions to prevent a word ending in <u>. With that understanding, this word sum does not challenge our hypothesis of not changing part of a digraph in suffixing:

    This is so interesting to me, and if I allowed my thinking to go further to question orthographic all markers, I ay not have considered <ue> a vowel digraph or complete grapheme in the first place.

    I am wondering about other vowels that appear as digraphs like <ie> and <oe>, is the <e> a marker to form a lexical word as in <tie> and <toe>.

    Thanks for writing, I shared with my student, and at the end of our discussion she put her thumb up to me, her sign for saying "yes, I understand."

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  • Ah marker letters!
    I love your line of inquiry Noreen. And just so you know, you are raising questions that I am still grappling with -- and you are helping me grapple. When is that final <e> an orthographic marker and when is it part of a grapheme? Can it be both?

    This is actually an area of orthography that has really grabbed my attention of late, and your posts are just highlighting that for me. What I love is that even though you and I are still working through the details, it has resulted in helping your student ganging a sense of understanding. It does not have to be a final understanding - but it is on a healthy path. Giver your student a thumbs up from me!

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