American English Spelling: An Informal Description

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JHU Press, May 1, 1988 - Business & Economics - 555 pages
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In this study of the English language as it is spelled in America, D. W. Cummings demonstrates that behind the apparent disorder of spelling in American English lies a self-regulating and self-reorganizing system that is responsive to four kinds of imperative: phonetic, semantic, etymological, and systemic. Cummings offers a systematic theory of orthography and applies this theory to the American English vocabulary with numerous examples. Cummings also describes the explication of written words into their elements, particles, and processes, and he sets out the tactical and procedural rules that control the distribution and sequencing of vowels and consonants. In the largest section of the book, he provides an exhaustive description of the major and minor correspondences between the sounds of American English words and their spellings. An essential reference work, American English Spelling moves beyond questions of how words are spelled to an understanding of why they are spelled as they are.

  

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Contents

Spelling as System
3
The Explication of Written Words
32
Sequences and Distributions
69
String Patterns and Rules
90
Suffix Rules
112
VCV in Disyllables
123
The Third Syllable Rule
131
Silent Final e and Its Deletion Rule
145
The Simple Long u IuI
288
The Complex Long u yu
297
The Diphthongs IoiI and aii
301
Vowels before hI
307
IbI p d and ItI
327
The Velar Stops IgI and k
350
The Simple Fricatives v HI th th and IhI
373
The Simple Fricatives hI HI th th and h
378

The Twinning Rule
161
Assimilated Prefixes
177
The Sounds and Letters of English
201
Short a a
213
Short i HI
222
The Short os a and I6I
231
High Short u OiI
241
Long a a
249
Long e IeI
258
Long IV
271
Long o lbI
280
The Simple Fricatives IzI and s
391
sh ch j and zh
407
ImI InI and rj
423
The Liquids l and r
439
The Semivowels w and y
456
Conclusion
461
Bibliography
465
Index of Words
475
General Index
539
Copyright

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About the author (1988)

D. W. Cummings is emeritus professor of English at Central Washington University. He can be contacted through his website, www.dwcummings.com.