Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Felicitous Find in the Rootbed

The English language is a similar historical mishmash of homage and pragmatism. We include Greek, Latin, French, Old English, and many other roots, at a cost known to every first- and second-grader. Linguists classify English as a morphophonemic writing system because it represents both morphemes (units of meaning) and phonemes (units of sound) in its spelling, a major source of bewilderment to many new readers if they don't understand the historical reasons. ... In essence, English represents a "trade-off" between depicting the individual sounds of the oral language and showing the roots of its words.

--Maryanne Wolf, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain

And that, brothers and sisters, is another reason why the English language poet is better off paying attention to the little bits than the big books.

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