Skip to comments.English Hieroglyphics are fun and easy to read
Posted on 10/22/2013 12:47:19 PM PDT by BruceDeitrickPrice
[Summary: easy way to understand sight-words.] Hey, wait a minute, you're thinking. There's no such thing as English hieroglyphics. There are Egyptian hieroglyphics, Sumerian hieroglyphics, maybe some others. But English? No way.
Yeah, you know that. But does a six-year-old kid know that? Not hardly. You know what this means? The school system can pull a fast one. Teachers point to a word- "house" - and say, "This design is pronounced 'house.' Memorize it."
Presto, that English phonetic word is now English hieroglyphics, simply by saying it is. That's what American public schools did circa 1930; they changed all English phonetic words into English hieroglyphics. It was so easy. What do first graders know? They've got VICTIM written all over them.
If children learn the alphabet, they are in fact memorizing the shapes of individual letters. But a single letter is not so great a challenge; plus, there are only 26 of them.
But what about five of these easy shapes stuck together to make a much more complicated shape like "house"? Or, worse still, something like "business." What about this complex shape makes you think of business activity? Basically, that's how you learn hieroglyphics, one at a time, with as many memory aids as possible.
If you don't happen to have a photographic memory, you will have to be clever and creative with your mnemonic tricks. Let's say the word is "face." Both the "a" and the "e" have a closed shape that could very well be eyes. That's how you do it.
The problem with hieroglyphics is that each design is hard work and takes up lots of memory. Even very smart people have trouble memorizing 2000 hieroglyphics with instant recall. More ordinary memories might have trouble going past 500 hieroglyphics.
Treating English word as hieroglyphics has few benefits and many obvious limitations. The English language is huge. College graduates routinely know more than 100,000 English words. Nobody knows 100,000 hieroglyphics. Furthermore, having memorized "face," would you be able to read FACE? The eyes, where are the eyes?
Historically speaking, it was as though a strange and deadly virus struck our Education Establishment around 1930. They insisted-absolutely, hysterically insisted--that memorizing English words as hieroglyphics was the best way to go. In fact, it's the worst way.
English hieroglyphics, that's what most little children studied and memorized across the United States for a long time. This method never made any sense. It caused huge damage. It's the reason we have 50 million functional illiterates.
Virtually all readers of English hieroglyphics are damaged readers. Their eyes tend to flit randomly over the complex designs. Instead of relentless left-to-right movements, their eyes zigzag and jump backwards. Soon these readers are diagnosed as dyslexic. They are said to have ADHD; and must be given Ritalin.
No, what they need to be given is a lesson in phonics. They memorize the letter names. They learn the sounds (i.e., the phonics) represented by the letters. They learn the blends of these sounds. When children can combine two or more sounds into one sound, they are reading!
That's how it works. That's how simple it is, in every phonetic language all around the world. Once you know the letters and the sounds, there is no limit to the number of words you can read. That's why English can have 1 million words, some of them long and bizarre like "ibuprofen" and "verisimilitude," but readers have no trouble.
Conversely, children trying to memorize English as hieroglyphics might stumble over "See Dick and Jane." They might stumble over "house." After all, when you think of it as a design, house looks a lot like louse, hoist, horse, dowse, souse, mouse, host, hoses, worse, hurts, etc. Really, that is the primary problem with English hieroglyphics. Every one of them resembles 50 others. A kid could get dyslexia, never learn to read, drop out of school, and end up stealing a car belonging to a literacy professor. Well, at least that would be poetic justice.
And the moral of the story is: if your child comes home with a list of sight-words to be memorized, send the child back with a copy of this article and a request for an Individualized Education Program that is based on phonics.
ARTICLE: "Sight Words--The Big Stupid" http://www.improve-education.org/id66.html
ARTICLE: "America, you've been punked." http://www.rightsidenews.com/2013091333189/life-and-science/health-and-education/america-you-have-been-punked.html
VIDEO: "Reading is Easy." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JV0tPGn-Ws
What’s the big deal? My Doctor has been writing prescriptions for years in hieroglyphics.
I believe this was known a the see/say method that was (briefly) thought to be superior the phonics. It was clearly one of the most disastrous fads in education.
I went to school in the 1960s and we learned phonics. I don’t know how anyone can learn to read english without phonics. English is great, probably the greatest language of all, but spelling-wise it’s a disaster. I assume they don’t even have spelling contests in other languages.
Bruce, you are absolutely brilliant.
Now here’s the worst horror story I ever heard regarding the reading problem in this country.
In the ‘80s two recently graduated doctors were camping in a national forest in Washington State and nearly burned it down. They read in their camping handbook that their garbage was to be “burned.” What? Nope, the word was “buried.”
This is the kind of mistake resulting from the reading system taught in our schools today - they don’t teach attention to details.
How would you like these guys to operate on you?
I got myself humiliated once (in 3rd grade, I believe) while reading out loud in class - mispronounced ‘diphtheria’; (a word I had never seen before) as ‘diarrhea’. New in the school, and laughed right out of my shoes, I was.
That’s what I get for guessing at a word instead of sounding it out.
2) For argument's sake, why are we losing out the the Chinese (if we are in fact losing out to the Chinese)? Reading and writing "hieroglyphs" hasn't actually hurt them, has it?
In education, the progressive movement is the disintegration mode of thought.In progressive education, man is primarily an actor rather than a thinker and actions and the concrete have primacy over the abstract and thought. A child must learn by doing activities.In reading,the commitment to the concrete as against the abstract take the form of the whole word method rather than phonics.
The progressive program for the schools is not reform, but demolition of subjects, facts, lessons, texts, structure, intellect, teaching, and learning. Above all, the movement represents the equation of education with the perceptual level mentality. It is the anti-conceptual mentality embracing the pre-conceptual child and training him to remain in that state for life.
“2) For argument’s sake, why are we losing out the the Chinese (if we are in fact losing out to the Chinese)? Reading and writing “hieroglyphs” hasn’t actually hurt them, has it?”
First, we’re not “losing out to the Chinese” so much as allowing the deck to be heavily stacked to favor the Chinese.
Now, on to the Chinese written language...
Years ago, I worked for a Chinese family. One of the, recently “immigrated” members of that family had been a construction engineer in China. According to him, the Chinese language was a huge handicap in any technical area. The language wasn’t nearly flexible enough to function in fields that were not native to China. To become an engineer, the guy had had to learn Russian, German and English.
This was in PDRChina where he had worked. The Russian was necessary for political reasons. The German was necessary because many of the site managers were Germans. English was necessary because, according to him, anything worth knowing/learning on engineering was published in English.
I think phonics come first, then you begin to recognize the words and the inconsistencies.
I learned to speak quite a bit of Thai, then read some about 37 years ago. They don’t generally put spaces between the words, and sometimes they wrap compound vowel characters (I think it is) around a consonant. Consonants at the end of a word aren’t necessarily pronounced like they are in the beginning or middle of the word. The net result is that it is very difficult to discern any single word, or hieroglyph or whatever. But you almost have to pick it out or read back and forth. It works for them, though I don’t know if they’d win any speed reading contests.
English spelling is quite easy if your phonics education was complete, unlikely if you were educated in the 60’s. Many older teachers were still secretly teaching some phonics back then but the curriculum they were forced to use were generally the look and say pap, which was pretty much useless in developing good readers and spellers.
There are 26 letters but 70 phonograms (letter combinations with with specific and distinct sounds) and about 30 spelling rules that tell you when to use which.
Almost everyone learns “i before e except after c” which is an incomplete rule.
It is actually “i before e except after c, when we say ‘ay’ and in some exceptions. Neither foreign sovereign seized the counterfeit or forfeited leisure and either weird heifer eats protein.” The complete rule pretty much clears up most of the confusion.
A complete and systematic phonics education ensures that kids become competent at both reading and spelling. A great teacher will also teach some history of Britain so they can understand how English became a layered language with multiple roots.
Is 1930 right? I thought whole word became a fad circa 1980.
Once when our class was reading the list of the week’s spelling words, I read ahead to myself and saw a word that I HOPED I wouldn’t get.
Thank goodness someone else was chosen to read the word “fort” aloud to the class because, had I been chosen, I would have said “fart”.
I could never have lived it down.
Phonics is essential, but not sufficient, because of the many parents and contributors to the English language. Our rich vocabulary comes at the expense of consistency, so some look-say is inevitable.
Think of the many simple words that are NOT spelled phonetically:
This doesn’t include the MANY alternate phonetic pronunciations in some of our common words.
It is well worth the extra memorization, and I would not want to go to sterilizing efforts like some of the Scandinavian countries have to standardize the phonics and pronunciations. We speak, read and write in English. It has the world’s richest vocabulary, because its speakers shamelessly borrow from other countries, perhaps largely due to the centrality of international commerce and colonization during the formation of the modern language. It doesn’t hurt that England venerates her language and created the OED, which the French sneeringly call a museum. The French meant it as an insult, the English do not take it as one.
May I suggest that your phonics education is incomplete as most of the words you list are in fact phonetic. I recommend Spalding method. (spalding.org)
For all those ‘ough’ words, I would teach children that this is the ough phonogram and it has six sounds o, oo uff, off, aw, ow. While pronouncing the sounds I would mimic being struck once for each sound. Little boys quite eat this up and immediately learn to recognize and mimic this fun ninja combination. The sounds are in order of most frequent use and we would have a lesson on those formerly problematic words that are now fun and easy to remember ninja words.
Bizarre. Never heard of this.
Turning English into a Hanja-like written language is just going to fail.
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