digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

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volunteer
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digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by volunteer » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:25 am

Would you call eigh a tetragraph which could be pronounced /ay/, /igh/ ? And maybe /ee/ sometimes too - at the end of some girls' names such as Ashleigh? Are there better examples of it making an /ee/ sound? Sorry my brain is not functioning right now!

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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by john walker » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:45 am

A la Tickell, I wouldn't call <eigh> a tetragraph. I'd call it a four-letter spelling, which does 'as it says on the tin' and is accessible to many, if not all, parents. However, the spelling <eigh> is, as you suggest, used mostly to represent the sound /ee/ in names of people and place names.
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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by volunteer » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:28 pm

Thanks John. Haven't got Tickell, so any reason why it shouldn't be called a tetragraph as it represents other sounds too eg. /ay/ in sleigh, and eight and weight, and /igh/ in height, sleight. Is it because it occurs in so few words?

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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by john walker » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:52 pm

In the EYFS, Tickell had this to say:
‘The language should be revised to replace jargon and unnecessary complexity, as far as possible using terms which everyone will recognise. This is critical if the revised framework is to be fully effective as a vehicle for bringing parents and carers into closer discussion with professionals.’
Obviously, context is all and one might be tempted (I wouldn't) to use the term 'tetragraph' for a four-letter spelling at a conference or within the domain of professional discourse. On the other hand, one wouldn't want to use it when speaking to a parent, say.
Of course, when you say that <eigh> can represent other sounds, you're dead right but won't the word 'spelling' or, to be more precise, four-letter spelling do just as well, as in the example: the spelling <eigh> can be /igh/, as in 'height', or /ay/, as in 'weight'?
Best,
John
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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by Tricia » Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:35 pm

I was going to say the same thing. It's a four letter spelling for several sounds. I would say that to an illiterate 13 year old and a phd in education. Jargon implies (creates?) exclusivity and the less of that in education, the better.

I think that's going to come across as a bit cranky; it's not meant to be. :grin:
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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by volunteer » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:21 pm

I take the point. But much material uses the terms digraph and trigraph. Why is tetra graph any worse?

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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by john walker » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:42 pm

'Tetragraph' isn't any worse than 'digraph' or 'trigraph'; nor is it any better, in my opinion. Surely though, the terms two-letter spelling and three-letter spelling are more accessible, aren't they?
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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by volunteer » Wed May 01, 2013 9:59 am

I agree with you, but the children I am working with are already part way down this route as the scheme the school uses does not use "one letter spellings", "two letter spellings", "three letter spellings" etc.

The children I am currently working with have been taught the word "digraph" - and that ea, th, sh, ch etc are digraphs. This seems to have been terminology they have been taught and have been comfortable using for years. Also, when they are working on how to remember a spelling they are good at spotting the digraphs and remembering which digraph to use for a a particular sound in a particular word. But because they only have digraphs highlighted in their mind, it's as though they don't quite think in terms of there also being one letter, three letter, and even four letter graphemes.

Really I was asking if it is correct to say that eigh is a tetragraph rather than whether it is advisable to do so. Does eigh represent the /ay/ sound in enough words to "qualify" for being called a tetragraph? Sorry if this is a dim question.

I know what you mean about jargon but at the same time as wanting to keep this simple, these children are high achieving year 5 children whose spelling is appalling. One of the things I will do with them is look at suffixes and prefixes and their origins (where possible and desirable of course). I've bought two books called Cryptokids and Red Hot Roots (or some such like) which I'm hoping will help too.

In maths I find that children find it hard to remember the meanings of quad - as in quadrilateral, and tetra - as in tetrahedron - and these are all things that year 5 children are expected to know and understand, and spell. Maybe if they had more words in their vocabulary which used these prefixes e.g. quadrangle they would remember it better? I'm struggling with tetra --- until you are studying more advanced chemistry or pharmacology it doesn't really come into its own! Tetra paks are not tetrahedron shaped anymore.

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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by john walker » Wed May 01, 2013 3:47 pm

Hi again Volunteer,
Don't get me wrong! I'm not averse to teaching pupils the metalanguage. I've always been comfortable with teaching even fairly young children terminology such as 'digraph' and so on. The problem comes when you're talking to parents and, as the jargon, rolls off our tongues, so their eyes roll around the backs of their heads. And they think you're gatekeeping. So, it's always a question of register: using the appropriate language for the appropriate occasion. We also need to remember that when children go home and tell their parents that such and such is a digraph, it is the point at which some parents will be lost and give up trying to help: "We never did it like that when we were at school!" [said with an Eric Idle voice.}
Now you mention it, teaching prefixes and suffixes is a very good way of continuing to teach the code and showing pupils how polysyllabic words are structured in a way that can be interesting and stimulating. My daughter was asking me about arthropods one day and I told her: 'arthro-' means 'jointed' and 'pod' means 'foot' or 'leg', hence creatures, such as spiders and insects, are called arthropods because they have jointed legs. "Ahhh," she said. "I know that '-itis' means inflammation, so arthritis must mean inflammation of the joints."
If you want two truly superb, if a little expensive, books on prefixes and suffixes, Laurence Urdang is the person. There are two volumes and they are published by Verbatim Books, USA. His take on 'tetra-' is 'A word-initial combining element, derived from Greek tetra-, a combining form of tettares 'four' used in its etymological sense and extended senses in Neo-Greek and Neo-Latin combinations: tetrabasic, tetradactylous, tetravaccine.' He doesn't give 'tetrapak' though!
John Walker
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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by volunteer » Wed May 01, 2013 7:57 pm

Tetrapak ... no I can see that he would not cover this in his learned tomes. I do seem to keep on reading it on juice cartons though. I'm not sure why. It aroused my curiosity as the juice boxes have 6 sides not 4 so I googled to find out why this company was called Tetrapak. :oops:

The books you mention do sound like good recommendations. One day soon I will take a look.

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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by maizie » Thu May 02, 2013 6:34 am

volunteer wrote: It aroused my curiosity as the juice boxes have 6 sides not 4 so I googled to find out why this company was called Tetrapak. :oops:
And did you get a result? If you did, do share :grin:

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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by volunteer » Thu May 02, 2013 7:09 am

Oh yes. The company website is fascinating. In the history of the company they show you the first milk cartons they made which were tetrahedral. They were pioneering in the science and technology of developing cartons for drinks which would keep the product in a sterile environment.

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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by john walker » Thu May 02, 2013 9:03 am

Well that makes sense! :grin: And it gave them a neat, jazzy brand name for the product.
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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by kenm » Thu May 02, 2013 10:33 am

volunteer wrote:Oh yes. The company website is fascinating. In the history of the company they show you the first milk cartons they made which were tetrahedral. They were pioneering in the science and technology of developing cartons for drinks which would keep the product in a sterile environment.
IIRC, the tetrahedra were folded from a near triangular shape (upset only by the tabs for sticking at the joins). Triangles tile a plane surface, so I presume the material was stamped out of a sheet with very little waste.
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Re: digraph, trigraph, tetragraphs

Post by geraldinecarter » Thu May 02, 2013 4:20 pm

" [English spelling is] better than people think it is.... because writing systems do not aim to represent the actual sounds of talking, which we do not hear, but the abstract units of language underlying them, which we do.”
― Steven Pinker

That's interesting - but those not blessed with good visual memory need to deconstruct words into their sound components, surely?

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