Words Matter, Dynamic Literacy's newsletter.
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Welcome to issue #38 of Words Matter, our bi-weekly newsletter. Please feel free to share with a friend!
Here's the good stuff.
More than meets the eye
Being able to read is not simply a matter of sounding out letters and pronouncing (right or wrong) a phonetic possibility. I remember Tookie, a fellow 7-year-old Sunday-schooler, about to read aloud his assigned verse to the big people in the congregation, nervously pointed to a word and asked me what it was.
I looked at it, sounded it out, and told him it was EX΄-uh-mine. We figured it was some ancient surgical practice or method of removing stone out of a mine, and Tookie was ready to go. "EX΄-uh-mine my heart and mind..." Tookie proudly boomed , and politely the congregation didn't bat an eye. Not much later, I came to know that the word was ex-AM΄-ine (to inspect, to examine), and the verse finally made sense. I don't know when or if Tookie ever got the memo.
Years later a colleague admitted that as a young reader he had thought that the name of the long-suffering wife who waited twenty years for her husband Odysseus to return from the Trojan War was pronounced 3-
syllables, "PEN΄-uh-lope", because that's what it looked like as a word on the page. At some point, he heard someone say aloud "Puh-NELL΄-o-pee" and he had that "phonics-isn't-the-whole-story" epiphany with Penelope that I had with examine.
We word aficionados now find humor in the trials and tribulations of the odyssey of becoming literate. We also are strong advocates of talking about words with budding (and life-long) readers, of encouraging a discovery of the foibles and quirks and crankiness of words and word meanings. That's why Dynamic Literacy changes lives with words--we show how moving from bland and voiceless vocabulary word lists and dogmatic attempts to carve a living language into lifeless rigidity will revive a love of the English language in everyone who happens to use it.
Next time, I'll examine an important trend in promoting literacy--an emphasis on the multiple meanings of words. You won't have to wait as long as Penelope did. --R. D. "Doc" Larrick
Enjoy this brief student video that comes directly from WordBuildonLine Elements Level 1.
The root SEDI
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