Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

Orthography is part of linguistics.

Linguistics is a science.

In orthographic linguistics scientific rigour obligatorially prevails both in its discourse and in its use of terminology.


Real spellers are familiar with this concept of the orthographic elements represented in this diagram. 

You can revisit the tutorial that contains it at this link in the Real Spelling Gallery.

So real spellers understand that:

  • there are two classes of orthographic element: bases and affixes;
  • only bases can be (not all “are”!) free;
  • affixes are by function and nature bound.


Here is the David Crystal definition.


 It is, then, crystal-clear that if an element is an affix it is, by definition, bound.

The necessary corollary, then, is that if an element can be free it can not be an affix.

By definition.

It’s that simple.

So when edubabbling text books state, for instance, that such words as ‘fore’, ‘extra’ and ‘cent’ are prefixes (and many do), there’s no need to bring such an obvious blunder to the fore as there’s nothing extra to say other than that such publications aren’t worth a cent.



Now take a deep breath. 

The latest post on a prominent schooling industry blog invites its readers to take part in a ‘vote’, with the comment that,

“The prefixes over- and under- are used fairly frequently; they occur in over a thousand English words and are among the top 20 most commonly used prefixes”.

What scholarship! we are expected to think.

Now look at and marvel at what we are presented with as examples of these ‘prefixes’ upon which we are invited to offer our opinion.




Fear not! You are under no obligation to think it over.

Here’s a tutorial about the identity of the English prefix to prepare your reaction to this ’survey’.





I am under the impression that even when this poll is over, those who participate won’t be overly concerned that there is a fatal conceptual flaw in its underlying assumption.

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