Spelling long words (2) - Prefixes (1)

Long words are difficult to spell because they are... well, long! There's a lot to remember. So break them down into separate parts.
Look at this word: uncomfortable.

We can break it into un (prefix) comfort (base word) and able (suffix).

We pronounce this word like this:

In other words, the 'or' in the middle is silent. So if you know the pronunciation maybe you will try to spell it *'uncomftable'* This is wrong. Usually (not always I'm afraid) the spelling of the base word doesn't change even if the pronunciation changes.

The part before the base word ('un') is the "prefix".

Two things to remember about prefixes:

1. A prefix usually changes the meaning of the word (makes it negative or opposite, for example).
2. The full prefix is added to the full base word. So:

unnecessary ( 'un' + 'necessary': so double 'n')
misspelling ('mis' + 'spelling': so double 's')
illegal ('il' + 'legal': so double 'l')
disappear ('dis' + 'appear': so only one 's')

This is one reason why Albrow says that English spelling is 'for the eye rather than the ear' (Albrow, K.H., The English Writing System: notes towards a description, Longman 1972).

Literacy - The Afghan Reading Project

You may be struggling to spell in English or to teach others to spell, but spare a thought for those who cannot read or write at all, and who have no books to help them. I am sure there are many places in the world where this is the case, but I read recently that in Afghanistan 90% of women and 80% of men are illiterate. I'm so shocked that I'm going to write that again in bold:

In Afghanistan 90% of women and 80% of men cannot read or write.

Just think for a minute what the consequences of such widespread illiteracy means for the people of Afghanistan and for the rest of the world.

Thinking about this led me to an organisation which looks like it does fantastic work:

The Afghan Reading Project

From their website:
The Afghan Reading Project is a registered charity that aims to put books in the hands of Afghan children to inspire reading and learning. We also fund books for older students and practical resources for teachers.

ARP has funded the publication of 40,000 books, all produced by Afghan writers, illustrators and printers. The books were distributed to schools in Afghanistan and refugee schools along the Afghan-Pakistan border, meaning that thousands of children can now enjoy a range of educational and fictional texts.

Please consider supporting The Afghan Reading Project.

If you need to be persuaded of the importance of this type of education I strongly recommend reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin http://www.threecupsoftea.com/

Alphabet - Bembo's Zoo

Ok, maybe this doesn't really help anyone spell but it makes you love letters of the alphabet. Check out Bembo's Zoo. It's beautiful. It's best if you have Flash on your computer. And have the sound on.

Here are some stills but you need to see the animations to enjoy it at its best. http://www.bemboszoo.com/

The Bembo's Zoo Alphabet. Go to the page and hover over the letters. Then click on one to see what happens. Click the images below to go to Bembo's Zoo.
bembo zoo alphabet
A Bembo's Zoo Antelope
A Bembo's Zoo Dragonbembozoodragon
Enjoy it!