"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Great

Any idea why the word "great" makes the "a" sound? Is this the sole exception to the rule? Is there any other "ea" word which makes the "a" sound?
beat
meat
seat
lean
bean

So why isn't it spelled "greight"?

When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.

*Brought to you by my first-grader.

** Edited to say we now have

break (thanks, Chris)
steak (thanks, husband)

Any more?

9 comments:

Christine M said...

You had to go and stick a question like that in my head - did you?

But wait - how about break. That one follows the same rules. So, now Great has company.

Marissa Doyle said...

Hey, there's always the George Bernard Shaw chestnut about spelling the word "fish" as "ghoti", if you take the "gh" of "tough", the "o" from "women" and the "ti" from "motion".

Just sayin'. :)

And I didn't know you were an EE. I'm married to one.

PJ Hoover said...

Chris - Thanks! I'm glad great isn't lonely anymore :)

Marissa - Yep, the EE thing. It comes in handy when electronics break around the house. And I love the ghoti thing!

Jill Douglass said...

I find it hard to believe that we ever learn to read and write. It breaks my heart sometimes because kids are so completely logical in their spellings, but we constantly have to say, "Honey, you spelled that exactly how it sounds, but unfortunately, 'blah' is spelled like this 'xauies'".

PJ Hoover said...

So many exceptions!

And how about heart? Why isn't it hart?

HipWriterMama said...

Yea!

PJ Hoover said...

Good one, Vivian!

Christine M said...

The book "The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that way" by Bill Bryson offers fascinating reasons behind some of the bizarre way English words are spelled - for example, why the word Colonel insists on being pronounced as if there were an R in it - when there clearly is not.

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