Tuesday, March 15, 2011

April 1976: Fun with Language--Beyond Grammar

Question: How can students have some fun with language, beyond a study of grammar?

.Mad spellings. Shaw’s spelling of ‘fish’ as ‘ghouti’ is famous. Lifting the pronunciation and spelling of one word into another.

.Comic strip words. “The comic strips in any newspaper will provide a surprisingly large number of unusual and unfamiliar words.”

.Names: Place names and personal names. Try to find their origins. Divide maps into quarters. Students find unusual place names and try to guess and learn the origins. Students ask their parents why they were named as they were.

.Dialects. Ask students to identify the geographical origins of “creek,” “soda,” “hoagie,” etc.

.Invented words. Students invent words, assign them meanings and use them. For example a class might invent the word “flib,” meaning “needs a haircut.”

Homemade dictionaries. Teenage slang, abbreviations for Twitter, automotive terms, words about the sea, or sports. include illustrations and origins if possible.

Television language. Analyze the language of TV characters.

Interesting word histories.

Grammar: Students inductively develop their own rules for grammar.

Big words. Students try to use as many big words as possible.

Product names. Students can explore how words are combined, divided and modified.

Propaganda: “International size” carries more word prestige than ‘small,’ ‘cheap’ or even ‘economical.’ “

Comment: There’s more to language study than grammar. RayS.

Title: “Doing Things with Language.” RC Small, Jr. English Journal (April 1976), 86-89.

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