Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

 

Recently, the title "Swap"  of the class reader, led naturally to an investigation of words that begin with _sw_
We looked up swap and found its origin linked to the sound made when hands came together for a handshake during a trade (cut to the practice of vigorous handshaking to render a loud swap sound).  We searched for _sw_ words that have something to do with movement. (In the back of my mind was one of my favorite investigations in the ToolBox Kit on _wr_ words.)
A host  of _sw_ words were organized into vowel columns such as;
swab,swag,swagger, swash,swarm,swap,swank,swallow,swam,swath
sweep,swell,sweat
swift,swill,swim,swing,swipe,swirl,swish,switch,swivel,swizzle,
swollen,swob,swoon,swoop,swoosh, sword,
swung,swum
We talked about why there were few _swu_ words and the_u u_  of _w_  as well as the three vowels in a row rule. It was interesting to show how swum and swung were past participles of verbs with really not many other choices for spellings.
There were questions about the pronunciation of  sword. The Word Searcher pointed to the word answer  (which I found had a base shared with swear, making it easier to understand and to remember the flexibility of the _sw_ diagraph. There was boatswain and coxswains which I didn't talk about.
Because the Japanese aren't hooked on phonics, there are no issues with "tricky" pronunciations. All kanji have multiple pronunciations according to meaning anyway.
We then created some book titles with _sw_ words such as, The Sweaty Sword Swallower, and the Swallow and the Sword etc.
Lots of fun.
The niggling question persists: are all these movement related _sw_ words a happy coincidence or  could _sw_  possibly have some sort of morphological pedigree as well?
Happy 2012 and thanks for all the postings. They are deeply appreciated.

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