Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

Dear all,
My 6/7 year olds have recently been exploring when suffixes force doubling and I think I found an exception.
edit + ing --> editing
This word seems to adhere to all the steps on the flow chart. Any ideas?

Also, I was of the understanding that all syllables need a vowel, until I stumbled upon "rhythm"- 1 vowel, 2 syllables.

I look forward to hearing your theories.

Comments (2)

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Sorry I'm coming to this so late! Just noticed the thread.

Zehnmail, you are dead on about the fact that the final <t> in <editing> does not double because the stress is not on the syllable just before the suffix in the finished word..

Christi, I understand why you and your students thought that you found an exception. Let me encourage you to use this example as an illustration that when you find yourself thinking that you might have "found an exception" that you let that be a red flag to remind yourself to say to yourself and your students "That spelling isn't doing what I expected, so there must be an explanation that we haven't found yet."

It is cannot be overemphasized how much harm the assumption that there are exceptions in English spelling has done to our ability to investigate spelling clearly. Imagine that you were a scientist surprised by a certain characteristic of a plant. No scientist would take the fact that they can't immediately explain that characteristic as evidence that that plant "must be an exception". They would treat that lack of understanding as a gift! Scientists are excited when they discover something they cannot explain, because they recognize that as a sign that they know exactly where they need to look to understand better.

I'll attach an old pdf of a suffix convention flow chart. If you work with this now, you may find other interesting discoveries as well.

The question about <rhythm> is an extremely rich one that always comes up -- and it's a sign of excellent understanding that it is hard to understand!

For the moment, I'll just share that understanding the spelling of <rhythm> will require a very deep rethinking about the syllabic nature of English and vowel phonemes and letters. I'll just share a couple of points that helped me along my own path of understanding.

First consider the syllabic nature of <rhythm> and when we add the <-ic> suffix and get <rhythmic>. Notice that we have parallel pattern in <prism> / <prismatic>.

Zhenmail may be onto something with noting this <m> letter.

Due to words like these, I have altered my wording of the convention with syllables and vowel letters in this way:

"When you perceive a syllable in a word, you should expect to find at least one vowel letter."

The fact that you should "expect" one is true. However, it leaves open the possibility that there are times that this may not happen. Perhaps we are working with a parallel of the old "orbit" model of atoms as a way to get a general idea but we are starting to learn that infact the "electron cloud" model of atoms is a more accurate account of reality.

Another rich lesson from this discussion is that one of the jobs of the scientists is to identify the boundaries of our understanding. My revised statement about how to deal with syllables and vowel letters acknowledges a working boundary. I'd recommend you let this topic be a pebble in your shoe that you keep returning to over time without worrying about resolving soon!

It is clear the two of you are on your way to learning so much else!

BTW I'm really sorry I missed this string for so long! In the future if you post a question, please email me at <> to let me know you've posted. I won't miss it then!

Peter Bowers
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I am very new to this, so please correct me if I am wrong.

edit + ing

The stress is not on the syllable just before the suffix, so the suffix is just added.

As far as rhythm - I believe it is a syllabic consonant. Rhythm, algorithm, chasm, schism. What I am not sure about is if it is just the -m or is it -m and -sm

Brenda Zehnder
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