Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Rabbit Rule

A week or so ago I posted some statistics about English spelling from an article in American Educator. This article also mentioned an English spelling rule that was new to me, the Rabbit Rule. Upon researching the Rabbit Rule, I realized that I remembered the rule from elementary school but I didn't know the rule by this name. I also discovered a few other English spelling rules that have acquired new names since I was in elementary school (ages upon ages ago). The rules are as follows:

The Rabbit Rule: Double the consonants b, d, g, m, n and p after a short vowel in a two syllable word.

The Banana Rule: Every unaccented open-a syllable will change to schwa. An a at the end of a word is never accented, so always changes to schwa (plasma). An a by itself at the beginning of a word usually changes to schwa (adopt). In three syllable words the last syllable is never accented. Only one syllable in a word is accented. So if a three syllable word has two open-a syllables that are not accented, both of them will change to schwa.

The Picnic Chicken Basket Rule: In the middle of multi-syllable words, spell the k-sound with a c when you can. If a c won't work, use ck if the k-sound is right after a short vowel. Otherwise, use k.

The Catch Lunch Rule: This rule applies to the ch-sound at the end of a word. Use tch when you have a short vowel coming right before the ch-sound, otherwise use ch. Exceptions: such, much rich, which.

The Milk Truck Rule: This rule applies to the k-sound at the end of a word. Never end a one syllable word using a c. If you have a short vowel sound coming right before the k-sound use a ck. Otherwise, use k.

The Floss Rule: Double the consonants f, l and s at the end of a one syllable word following a short vowel. Common exceptions to this rule are gas, yes, and bus.

How did anyone ever learn to spell without these fancily named rules. I think I will now go eat a picnic lunch of rabbit, bananas and milk after which I will immediately floss.

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