Crazy Dictionary Solution is Here!
It isn’t clear from the title if the dictionary is crazy or the solution. What is clear is we have been copying William Caxton’s spelling mistakes for 500 years and that is crazy. You probably figured out that standard dictionaries were useless the first time you realized you had to know how to spell a word before you could look it up. Helloo, arranging a non-phonetic language alphabetically doesn’t work.
There is a solution but it seems seems impossibly simple. What about arranging words that ‘sound the same’ together – never mind spelling? Outrageous? Not if it works.
William Caxton shattered English when he failed to modify the Latin alphabet (ABC’s) to accommodate the 40 sounds used in spoken English. If he had only added a few more symbols to represent the 14 letter shortfall… (26 letters in Latin, 40 sounds in English) Ahhh, but he didn’t and we made it worse by copying him. It is hard to believe possible but we made it worse still when we took all his spelling mistakes, saved them in a big fat book called the dictionary and built our education system on this shaky foundation.
The vowels suffered the most (not as much as the students) but a, e, i, o and u just don’t cut it for our 16 vowel sounds. But wait! Herein lies the solution.
The secret to pronunciation in English is nailing the vowel sound in the most important syllable of any word (stress-based language and all that). What if a dictionary divided English words into 16 categories by vowel sound instead of 26 categories by illogical spelling? What if all the words with the same main vowel sound were grouped together and listed alphabetically in each chapter? It could work.
To give ‘voice’ and meaning to the system, what if vowel sounds were paired with 16 colors that held our vowel sounds in their names? The long ‘a’ sound is in Gray, the short ‘a’ sound is in Black, the long ‘e’ sound is in Green, the short ‘e’ sound is in Red … holy cow! We have a perfect system that restores logic to our broken language regardless of its idiotic spelling.
How does it work? Apply the K.I.S.S. principle. Keep it Simple Silly. The order of the new ‘sound dictionary’ based on vowel sounds starts with ‘a’ sounds, long ‘a’ and short ‘a’. Next comes the ‘e’ sounds, long ‘e’ and short ‘e’, followed by ‘i’ sounds, long ‘i’ and short ‘i’… There’s the logical order of the first 10 chapters. This isn’t turning out to be ridiculous at all!
Chapter One of Grass is Black the world’s first ‘sound dictionary’ is available as a Free Download. Check it out.
FYI: There is an app based on this remarkable system. Teacher Judy’s Sound Dictionary is a $1.99 solution to North American spelling and pronunciation.
Until next time,