In The Logic of English™ Series, you have the Y saying the long E sound at the end of multi-syllable words. I heard you explain at a past seminar on reading that Y says the short I sound at the end of multi-syllable words. Why did you change?
This is one of the most significant changes that I have made in the process of writing Uncovering the Logic of English. While writing, I questioned everything and attempted to validate my previous understanding of the rules and phonograms by comparing them to extensive word lists.
Providentially at the time of the book, I was tutoring a young student who has particularly weak auditory processing skills. When I told her to "say to spell" the short i sound for baby, she did not recognize the word. In order for her to comprehend multi-syllable words ending in Y, I had to tell her to read the long E sound. (Anyone who took a Reading class from me prior to 2011 will have heard me explain many reasons for the benefits of "saying to spell" short i for the Y.
I still questioned though how to handle this problem in regards to spelling. However, the word lists that I gathered answered the question for me.
First, Y says the long E sound only at the end of multi-syllable words. There are only 10 multi-syllable words that end in the single letter phonogram E where the E is sounded and not silent. These are:
With this realization, I knew that dictation did not need to be confusing for students in regards to spelling the long E sound at the end of multi-syllable words. It is the most common spelling. When a long E is heard at the end, it is most likely Y.
This is also true of the other phonograms: EA spells the long E sound at the end of only six commonly used words. Though these words are not obscure, they are not as commonly used as the thousands of multi-syllable words ending in Y where it says the long E sound: baby, lady, funny, happy, truly, etc. Despite, what I had been taught, adding the long E sound to Y does not make spelling dictation more difficult. Rather this change removes unnecessary complexity and confusion.
Why does The Logic of English® Series have a different number of sounds for some of the phonograms when compared to other Orton-based programs?
What research methods were used to make these decisions?
The changes in sounds are based upon word frequency analysis using The ABC’s and All Their Tricks by Margaret Bishop and internet sites such as www.morewords.com. Using tools such as these, Denise searched for phonograms and created comprehensive lists of words using each phonogram. These lists were then analyzed and organized by base words.
Phonograms are the most foundational element to learning to read and spell. The 70 basic phonograms described by Dr. Orton are the most basic elements of written English. A phonogram literally is a picture of a sound. Each letter or combination of letters represents one or more sounds in English. Knowing the phonograms is key to learning to decode written English.
Since English is comprised of 45 sounds, the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet are inadequate to describe these sounds. Therefore, additional multi-letter phonograms are added to account for sounds such as /ch/, /ow/, /th/, and /oi/. Knowing the written representations of each sound is essential to learning to read and spell. In addition, English is a complex language; 27 of the phonograms represent more than one sound. It is vital to teach all the sounds of each phonogram so that students know all the sounds made by each. This prevents students from needing to treat countless words as sight words and provides a more accurate description of the language.