1 History in Spelling?

In this introductory video, Angie, the main character of the Etymation cartoons, introduces herself and invites you to join her on a word study adventure. Angie acknowledges that many words have “tricky”, or better yet, UNIQUE spellings, but explains that words with “exceptional” spellings often have the most interesting etymologies!

2 Eponyms

Many words have exceptional spellings because they preserve the spelling of a person’s name. Such words are called eponyms.

No wonder Wednesday is spelled that way!

3 Early Influences

How did historical events like the Norman Conquest lead to our unique spelling system? In this video, Angie gives us a brief overview of such complex historical events. We also learn how some words even portray mistakes that people made years ago!

4 Scribble, Scribble, SCRIBE!

In the times before copy machines and printers, scribes were paid depending on the amount of lines they wrote. So why not add extra letters to make words longer? This resulted in today's inconsistent spelling "rules", or patterns. But that's not the only reason these hardworking transcribers changed the spellings of words...

5 How was it Pronounced?

Ever wonder why bomb and crumb have a silent b at the end? Spellings that seem erratic to us today may actually reflect the way they were pronounced years ago! English spelling became more or less fixed as the pronunciation of words continued to change.

6 Americans and their Reformers

Most are familiar with Webster's Dictionary, but do you know that Noah Webster was also a spelling reformer? He and several other reformers wanted to simplify the spelling of words... and he was quite successful...

7 Can I Borrow That? (Loanwords)

What else contributes to English's exceptional spelling system? Spelling patterns from other languages, of course! ...Chauffeur, Rhombus, Chihuahua ... oh how diverse our spelling system is!


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