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Spelling Tests
 Few adults can pass these simple spelling tests
A  number of years ago Dr. Valerie Yule challenged
people to spell 16 common words correctly
  For

dual reader 1    dual reader 2   writing samples    12 poetry     spellingconverter   spelling improv

Dr. Yule's 16 Word Spelling Test - most of the answers are in the list below
acomodate exessiv remembrd unparaleld
miniture professr gardian disapoint
mischivus psycolojy sovren disiplin
inocuus recomend ocasion tecnicly
This test has been given to 1000's. Very few pass. [more background] 

In a phonemic writing system or a rule based writing system, the spellings wouold be predictable. In the traditional system they are not.  There are no rules that will narrow down the spelling to one particular way.  There are regualrities in the traditional writing system that will narrow the options down to three or four.  A phonemic system can enable a person to spell pronunciations but not historical oddities. <psychology> is sound spelled: saikollajy /sai 'kol @ dZi/.This is not even close to the lexical spelling.  This mismatch between pronunciation and spelling reveals the limits of phonics.  Phonic awareness can narrow down the number of options but no more.

Here are the Spanglish spellings. The double consonants identify the stressed syllable. You can learn to spell with near 100% accuracy in a highly phonemic rule based system such as Spanglish.  However, don't expect a consistent system to help you spell an inconsistent spelling.  Many double consonants are due to the way that Latin words were adapted to Engllish.  It had nothing to do with sound.   [see p. 148f. Cut Spelling Handbook, 1996 -Doubling after Latin derived prefixes] 

  • acommodeit, eksessiv, rememmberd, unparraleld
  • minnatyer, professer, gaardian, dissapoint
  • mischivvas, saicollajy, sovvran, dissaplin
  • inoccyuas, reckomend, okeishan, tecknicly
Does mastery of a phonemic spelling system help people spell words that are not spelled phonemically? 
Daz masstery av a fonemmic spelling sistem help piepl spell werdz not spelld foniemicly?

Does awareness of the correct phonemic spelling help one to dictionary spell the list of words below? 
Daz awerrnes av the correct fonemmic spelling help wan dicshanary spell the list av werdz belo?

There is a direct relations ship between predictability and ease of spelling.  Soundspelling is easier to the extent that we can correctly pronounce the word.  If there is more than one possible pronunciation, then there are multiple sound spellings and lower predictability. [see contrary below]

What percentage of the 1000 most common words have more than one acceptable pronunciation?  Wat percentaj av the 1000 moast common werdz hav mor thaen wan acceptabl pronunnciashan?

What makes many of the words below difficult, is the fact that the pronunciation is ambiguous.  If we can't get the pronunciation right, then we can't get the pronunciation guide spelling right.  Dictionaries sometimes acknowledge the problem and give more than one pronunciation guide spelling.  Sometimes they make a decision which may disagree with what another lexicographer decides. Where there are multiple pronunciations, there will be multiple sound spellings. 

How much does a schwa phonogram simplify spelling and make it more predictable? Hau mach daz a shwa foanogram simplify spelling and meik it more predictabl?

There are many boderline cases where either a short  pronunciation or a schwa pronunciation would be equally understandable.  [e.g., sist&m sistem].  Most people pronounce minuscule as minn&skyul. The availability of a schwa letter would make this spelling easier.  This phonemic awareness, however, does not transfer to traditional spelling.  The letters, i and u are equally good traditional representations for the schwa sound.

Sound spelling is more predictable and potentially easier than historical spelling.  Just how much easier is open to debate. If there are multiple pronunciations, there will be multiple sound spellings.  If sound spelling is to be standardized, then some arbitrary decisions must be made regarding the correct pronunciation.  One issue is just when does an unstressed vowel become a schwa. sistem or sist&m

These are difficult questions to answer. 

Phonemic awareness has been linked to success in reading and writing.  This finding is difficult to interpret because phonemic awareness simply would not help a person spell irregularly spelled words. 

The words below are spelled phonemically and this provides very little help in identifying the traditional dictionary spelling.

Perhaps the test included enough regularly spelled words to compensate for this.  It is easy to see how phonemic awareness would help one spell about 50% of the words in the dicitonary. 

The real test would be with respect to spelling words that are not spelled as they are pronounced today. 

If the spelling is non-phonemic, it is difficult to see how phonic awareness would help much.  About 85% of the vowel sounds in English are spelled one of four or five ways.  Perhaps phonemic awareness narrows the spelling options to four or five and then pattern recognition permits the person who has seen the word correctly spelled the guess the correct spelling. 

Pattern recognition appears to be a skill that develops after the fifth year of schooling.  Before that, studies have shown that it is usually the first letter that is used to guess the word being spelled.  In the classic ?tachistascope study, Cattrell showed that adults can recognize whole word patterns in a microsecond.

In the list below, several different systems of phonemic spelling are provided.  The Frank Smith hypothesis might be that knowing how the words should be spelled will have a negative impact on the ability to spell irregular words.

Does any systematic or phonemic spelling help the person trying to spell according to the dictionary?  Phonemic spelling is related to pronunciation guide spelling, not to historical spelling.  What good is knowledge of regular spelling if the system one is trying to learn is irregular over 50% of the time? 

This is the situation that led Frank Smith to the "look-say" approach to teaching reading.  [quotes]

Smith overlooked many of the regularities of the traditional system but those who champion the phonic approach have to explain how they are going to help students deal with the 50% of the spellings that do not exhibit a high level of phonic or phonemic regularity.

Some of the traditional spellings are just wrong with respect to present day pronunciation.  One has to be an expert in etymology and middle English to figure out these misrepresentations of sound. 


Abbreviations used in the table below

SS [Saxon Spanglish] is a 90% phonemic system that uses some of the traditional positional spelling and doubling conventions found in the traditonal writing system.  It is based on the 10th century Saxon augmented Latin alphabet.

XE [X-Englik] is an ascii-IPA 100% phonemic system.

RS [RITE spelling] is a 70% phonemic system.  RITE reduces the irregularity in tradtional spelling by extending existing rules.  Although it ends up respelling about 40% of the words in English, it is probably the best guide to traditional English spelling.  Most other systems respell 80% or more of the words.  All 100% phonemic systems will respell at least 60% of the words in a 70,000 word dictionary.  or 60% of the words from the list of the 7000 most frequently used words in English. 

MW [Merriam-Webster] is the notation used in the on-line pronunciation guide.
TS [Truespel] is a 99% phonemic system that uses the sounds most freqently assigned to letter and letter cluster sounds.  It is an anglo phonic system as opposed to a Latin based system.

IDENTIFY THE ONE MISSPELLED WORD IN LINES A THRU D

Quick Test of Spelling Skill - progressively harder misspelled word identification [test 2]
You may use the fonemic spellings but while these are good guides to pronunciation, they do not help much with traditional spelling.  http://victorian.fortunecity.com/vangogh/555/Spell/sitemap-l.html
 
One word on each line is not spelled correctly - Can you find it?
A ___   B ___   C ___   D ___
    1 2 3 4 5
A.  Fair   acquainted arguement cantaloupe congratulate forty
fonemic SS
XE
RS
MW
TS
aqueintad
xkweintxd
aquainted
&kwAnt&d
ukkwaentid
aargyumant
aargiumxnt
argument
a:rgyument
aargyuement
canntaloap
kaentxloup
cantalope
kant&lOp
kantuloep
congrattyuleit
cxngraetiuleit
congrattulate
c&ngratyulAt
caanggratuelaet
forty
fortii
forty
fortI
fortee
B.  Good   counterfeit hygiene niece seize acommodate
fonemic SS
XE
RS
MW
TS
counterfit
cauntxrfit
counterfit
caunt&rfit
counterfit
haijyn  haijien
haijiin
hygene  2jene
hIjEn
hiejeen
nies
niis
neece [2se]
nEs
nees
siez
siiz
seeze
sEz
seez
acommadeit
xcomxdeit
acommodate
&kom&dAt
ukkaamudaet
C. Excellent   caterpillar changeable harass hemorhage judgment
fonemic SS
XE
RS
MW
TS
catterpiller
caetxrpilxr
catterpiller
kat&rpil&r
katupiler
cheinjabl
cheinjxbxl
chaingable [j]
chAnj&b&l
chaenjubool
harass
hxraes
harass
h&ras
huras
hemmeraj
hemxrxj
hemmorage 2ej
hemrij  hem&
hemorij
judjment
jajmxnt
judgement 2juj
j&jm&nt
jujment
D. Extra
 
manoeuvre
photographer automatic photographic enviroment
fonemic
SS
XE
RS
MW
UNI
TS
manuuver
mxnuuvxr
maneuver
m&nUv&r
mcnUvcr
manuever
fotoggraefer
fxtaagraefxr
fotografer
fOtograf&r
fOtxgrafcr
foettaagrafer
otamattic
ootxmaetik
automatic
aut&matik
qtcmatik
autoematik
fotagraffic
fotograeffik
fotografic
fOt&grafik
fOtcgrafik
foetuggrafik
envairanment
invairxnment
environment
invIr&nm&nt
invIrcmcnt
invierunment
SS=Saxon Spanglish, XE=X-Englik, RS=RITE-spell, MW=Merriam Webster dictionary, TS=Truespel
Answers -  A2, B5 , C4

argument, congrattulate, SI higene, S2 hijene, [strange] S1 neece, S2 neese, acommodate, catterpiller, S1 chaingeable, S2 chainjable,  S1 hemmorage, S2 hemmorej, S1 judgement, S2 jujment    What is the purpose of the se and ending--to keep it from going to z?.  ge is needed to soften the g.
Should button be pronounced but'n or but-ton?  lit'l or lit-tel?

 
Phonemic Transcriptions:  IPA is the most popular code for dictionary pronunciation guides. Normally it looks rather odd when used for more than a couple of words.   Sweet's version below is quite attractive.  The version where he replaces the eth [] with the Greek delta is even better.  Spanglish, one of several ASCII-IPA notations compatible with e-mail, is an IPA  equivalent that uses no special characters or diacritics.  It is supposed to look less alien than IPA.  Please write and tell me [sbett@lycos.com ] if it achieves its aesthetic goal and if you could read it without a key.
IPA-International Phonetic Alphabet SS- Saxon-Spanglish Fonemic Notation
W'ns 'pon ' taim ' bjutif'l do:t' 'v '
greit m'd3i'n want'd mo:': p':lz tu: put 'm'h h': tre3ju':z."Luk thru: ' sent': '' mu:n hwen it iz blu:," sed h'r m'th' in ns': tu: h': kwest'n, "Ju: mait faind j': ha':tz di:zair."
Wans apon a taim the [dhe] biutifal doter av a
greit majishan waanted mor perlz tu pwt amang her treazherz."Lwk thru the center av the muun hwen itt izz blu," sedd her mather inn aenser tu her queschan, "Yu mait faind yer haartz dizair." 
Lor;d'z Prejr   [in kliyer-spel]

Ayr Fa;dhr hu ar;t in hevn, 
Halo;d bi dhaj Nejm. 
Dhaj kin'dxm k*m.
Dhaj wil bi d*n, on e;th az it iz in hevn.

Giv u*s dhis dej ayr dejli bred. 
And for;giv us ayr trespasiz, 
Az wi for;giv dho;z hu trespas xgejst us. 
And li;d us not intu temptejshxn, 
But dilivr us frxm i;vl 

Ejmen   Code:  *^, x@, o;ou, 

Lordz Preir in Spanglish

Our faather hu aart in heaven [or hevven]
Hallowd bi thai neim
Thai kingdem cvm [cumm] [cam] [com]
Thai will bi dvn, on erth aez it iz in heaven

Giv vs this dey, our deily bread [bred]
Annd forgivv vs our tresspaesez
Aez wi forgivv thoaz hu tresspaes agennst vs
Aend lied vs [uss] not intu tempteishan
Bvt delivver vs fram ievel. [ievl] . . .

Eimenn  [eav replaces evv  to avoid dbl v]


With pronunciation guide spelling, you can spell it right almost every time.
With traditional spelling, it is usually a guessing game until you memorize the dictionary
However, pronunciation guide spelling is not much help when it comes to matching dictionary spelling. It helps when the pronunciation guide uses the same devices as the English writing system.  Unfortunately TES does not use any device or pattern for all spellings.  In about 85% of the cases, one can be certain that the correct spelling is one of five orthographic options. 

Below, four different transcription systems give their rendition of the correct spelling of the spoken word.  Does this information help or does it make the task of coming up with the correct dictionary spelling more confusing?

 Spelling Test
30 common words are listed below along with three pronunciation guide spellings.
Take out a pencil an paper and try to spell the 30 words.  The list contains only about 5 spelling demons.
If you get more than 60% of them correct, you are above average. 

Link to "Can you spot the spelling error?" spelling test

Another list of words that are difficult to spell

With pronunciation guide spelling, you can spell it right almost every time.
With traditional spelling, it is usually a guessing game until you memorize the dictionary
However, Pronunciation guide spelling is not much help when it comes to matching dictionary spelling.

Can you spell 30 words traditionally?  Guess first then highlight the 1st column
This is a paper and pencil test - use the pronunciation guide spelling to identify the
word - it will not provide much of a guide to historical or traditional spelling.
Traditional
Writing System 
Try to spell, then check by clicking to highlight
 
AutoTranscription
IPA  m-w
International Phonetic Alphabet

pronunciation guide
transcription
RITE
U can spel it rite
ancient
efficient
conscience
seismic 
accident
sleight  slate
neighbor favor
caffeine
codeine
fiery  fairy-ferry
merry Mary contrary
leisure  measure
sheik chic chick
pharaoh ferro
feral   ears
fierce fears pier
angel angle
atone  atom
allow
kaleidoscope
collide
creation
folio

aenshunt 
iffishint
conshuns
siezmik 
aksidint
sliet  slaet
naeber faever
kaffeen
koedeen
fieyeree fairee 
mairee 
kaantrairee
lezher mezher
shaek sheek chik
fairoe  fairoe
fairel  eerz
feers feerz peer
aenjool aengool
attoen atum
ullou
kullieduskoep
kullied kaaler
kreeyyaeshin
foeleeyoe

ein5@nt  Ansh&nt
ifi5@nt  ifish&nt
kon5@ns knsh&ns
saizmik  sIzmik
aksidentaks&d&nt
slait sleit slIt slAt
neib@r   nAb&r
kafi:n    'kafEn
koudi:n  'kOdEn
fairi  feri feri
meri maeri  merE
k@ntreri kntrerE
le2@r me2@r
5eik/5i:k 5i:k t5ik
ferou   ferO
fir@l/fer@l irz fir&l
firs firz pir
einj@l  ang@l
@toun aet@m
@lau  &lau
k@laida@skoup
k@laid  ka:l@r
kri:ei5@n
fouli:ou

einshant
efishant
connshans
saizmic 
accident
slait sleit
neiber feiver
caffien
coadien 
fairy ferry
merry Marry cantrerry-conntreiry
lezher mezher
sheik shiek chick 
ferro/feraao  ferro
ferral  ierz
fiers fierz pier
einjal anngl 
atoan attam
alau/alou
kaleidascoap
calaid  coller
criyeishan
foalio

aincient
 

siezmic 
accident
slite slate
naibor favor
caffeen
codine
fiery  ferry
merry Mary? contrary
lezure mezure
shaik sheek chick
fairo? ferro
ferral  eers
feerce feers peer
ainjel angle
atone  atom?
alou?
kalaidoscope
colide?  coller?
creation?
foalio?


*Pharaoh was once pronounced /faraaou/ hence the 1735 spelling.  Fr. pharaon  Eg. per a-a [big house]
Notice the difference between Truespel which doubles the consonant before the stressed root syllable
and Spanglish and RITE which double after the stressed syllable.  The traditional system uses both conventions so you never know when to double.

TERMINAL VOWEL SPELLING
If you want the spelling system to be easy, then it would be a good idea to spell all unstressed terminal 
vowels the same way.  This could be as in cut spelling, where the schwa is the null phoneme and simply left out of words that end with syllabic consonants: colm, prism, litl, moshn. 

In Spanglish, words ending in syllbic consonants can be spelled as in PRISM or with an e-schwa PRISEM.
There are only two spellings not six as in TO:  prison = prizn or prizen.  hangar=hanngr or hannger
Truespel:  prizin, haenger, litil, prisim

Except with syllabic consonants and morphemic endings, Spanglish spells the unstressed mid lax vowel with an [a] as in ago and sofa. 

Since [a] is not always [@], Spanglish is already partially deconstructed:  e is substituted for a when followed by an r.  [her caar instead of har caar].  With Anglo logic, since ar is no longer used with r, then aar can be shortened to [ar] as in RITE.  Of course, this is not completely true since -ar is used in words such as hangar.
 

Dr. Bett's 16 Word Spelling Test - most of the answers 
There is nothing difficult about their pronunciation guide spelling
*these words have different spellings in the U.S. and England
cemetary embarrasment luutenant saargent
defens* enrollment* aargyument* fulfill*
manuuver counseling* eijing* drafft*
ensaiclopedia* medieval* ocasion tecnicly
These words are spelled in Spanglish

Spelling Related Websites
speltest at unifon.org

English and American spellings - A list of differences in dictionary spelling
Commonly Misspelled Words Quiz - Correct the spellings of ten randomly generated commonly misspelled words. 
Frequently Misspelled Words - Lists correctly-spelled versions of frequently misspelled words. 
How Well Can You Spell? - Interactive spelling test uses 16 frequently misspelled words. From Microsoft Encarta. 
LD Online: Spelling Strategies - Suggestions on how to practice spelling words. 
Literacy Resources - Spelling Tips - Strategies for teaching spelling and a list of spelling rules. 
Most Commonly Mispelled Words
Musical Spelling Rules - Lyrics and music to songs which teach four common spelling rules. 
Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee - Home of the world's best-known annual spelling bee. Includes weekly literature-based word activities, a listing of local spelling bees, the history of the national event, rules, and answers to frequently asked questions. 
See 'N Spell at PrimaryGames.com - A series of interactive games test knowledge of short vowels, long vowels, blends, diagraphs, other vowels, and plurals. 
Spell Check from Funbrain.com - Identify the word that is spelled incorrectly. Choose between two levels of difficulty. 
SpellaRoo from Funbrain.com - Find the spelling errors in these fun sentences. Choose between beginning and intermediate levels. 
Spelling Quiz: ei, ie - Test how well you can spell "ei" and "ie" words with an interactive spelling quiz. 
Spelling Study Skills - A detailed guide to the rules of British English spelling. From the University of Bradford. 
Spelling Stuff for Kids - Resources related to commonly misspelled words, tips for becoming a better speller, games, activities, and lessons. 
Spelling Test - A journalism professor and former copy editor offers an interactive test of 50 commonly misspelled words, as well as spelling tips. 
Spelling Tips from Mrs. Kelly - A second grade teacher provides twelve ways to practice spelling words. 
Spelling Tips - Activities to use while practicing spelling words. 
Study Buddy's Spelling Troublebuster Survival Tips - A guide to learning to spell troublesome words correctly. 
 

CONVERTER automated conversion to a phonemic notation  PERL CONVERTER
50snds Latin-1

  
 

 
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