Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spelling Rules According to Johnny Cannon

Making Vowels Make Sense

I reckon the first thing you got to learn how to do when you’re writing English is learn how to spell words, cause a rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but if you spell it like you spell manure, ain't nobody going to sniff it. 

Don't worry, though. Spelling ain’t so hard, really. Except for all them consonants and vowels. In fact, if you didn't have to deal with no letters or nothing, spelling would be a piece of cake.

Actually, consonants ain’t really too hard. Oh, sure, you got your Cs that sometimes sound like a K and sometimes sound like a S. And you got the Gs that can either be its own blamed self or it can be a J in disguise. And every once in a while the S sounds like a Z, and the T sounds like a SH when it’s got a IO after it.

OK, consonants are hard. But they ain’t nearly as dadgum hard as vowels. Vowels are like squishy, mushy putty that moves and changes every which way and never how you want it to. Still, there’s a few tricks to remembering how to get the vowels right in the words you’re writing:

The Sometimes Y
Now, I ain’t just talking about the fact that sometimes the letter Y is a vowel and sometimes, like in Y’all, it’s a consonant. Instead, I’m talking about the fact that Y is only SOMETIMES a Y, but if it starts feeling crowded and such, it lets off a stink like a skunk and turns into an I. Like if you’re adding the letters ES to the end of PARTY, the Y turns into an I and you get PARTIES. Or adding it to TRY, you get TRIES. The only time you ain’t going to see the Y turn yellow and change its shape is if you’re sliding an I along side it, like if you’re adding ING to TRY, you’ll get TRYING. Dadgum Y.

The Shy E
There’s a certain kind of E that is a whole mess of a lot like me, and that’s what’s known as the Silent E, but I like to call it the Shy E. See, the Shy E don’t say nothing, but he shows up in a word at the tail to help the other vowels stand up straight and shout their own names. Like in the word LIKE, that Shy E shows up and makes the I yell “Aye!” Or in HOPE, Mr. Shy E comes along and the O  hollers, “Oh!” But if you start trying to force the Shy E to make other vowel friends, he’s probably going to duck out of the room something fierce. So, if you add ING to HOPE, you’ll get HOPING and Shy E will be HIDING off in his room. The only time that won’t happen is if you make Shy E hang out with a consonant. Then he’ll probably stay around, like if you turn LIKE into LIKENESS, or ENTIRE into ENTIRELY.

The Wrestling Vowels
Shy E has a twin, and that’s the Wrestling E. And Wrestling E hangs out with Wrestling I, and the two of them is always fighting to see who’ll get to be in front. Usually I wins, and so I gets to be in front of E, like in words like BELIEVE or CHIEF. But, sometimes E wins, like if the letter C helps him out in words like RECEIVE. Also, if the word wants to say the A sound, it’ll make I hop in the back, like in NEIGHBOR or WEIGHT. But, every once in a while, I get’s his dander up and hops in the front even when he ain’t supposed to, like in ANCIENT or EFFICIENT. And sometimes the E puts the I in a headlock and jumps over, like in WEIRD or NEITHER. So, you see, them two like to mess around with your head as they punch each other in the face.


So there you go. Vowels is tricky. That’s why I like to make a big ol' sign for all them vowels to help me remember. Then I go and put it up on the shed in the back yard and shoot it with my gun. To help me forget.

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