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According to Illinois state law, it is illegal to speak English. The officially recognized language is "American."
Widow is the only female form in the English language that is shorter than its corresponding male term (widower).
Victor Hugo's Les Miserable contains one of the longest sentences in the French language 823 words without a period.
There is only ONE word in the English language with THREE CONSECUTIVE SETS OF DOUBLE LETTERS.... Bookkeeper
There is a word in the English language with only one vowel, which occurs five times: "indivisibility."
There is a seven letter word in the English language that contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters, "therein": the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.
There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: "abstemious" and "facetious."
There are thirteen languages spoken by more than 100 million people. They are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, Portuguese, Malay-Indonesian, French, Japanese, German, and Urdu.
There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world today. However, about 2,000 of those languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers. The most widely spoken language in the world is Mandarin Chinese. There are 885,000,000 people in China that speak that language.
There are only two sequences of four consecutive letters that can be found in the English language: "rstu" and "mnop." Examples of each are understudy and gynophobia.
There are only 4 words in the English language which end in "duos": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
There are at least two words in the English language that use all of the vowels, in the correct order, and end in the letter Y: abstemiously & facetiously.
There are 41,806 different spoken languages in the world today.
The word "queue" is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.
The word "honcho" comes from a Japanese word meaning "squad leader" and first came into usage in the English language during the American occupation of Japan following World War II.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition which now affects three to seven percent of school-aged children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is an astronomically large number of children.
Now a report from the HealthDay Reporter indicates that exposure to high levels of pesticides, commonly found on berries, celery and other produce, could raise the odds for children developing this condition.
In the study, pesticide exposure and ADHD were studied in more than 1,100 American children aged 8 to 15. Children with higher pesticide levels in their urine were more likely to have ADHD. And the higher the level of exposure [as measured by metabolites in the urine], the higher were the odds of having ADHD. The results, which will appear in the June issue of Pediatrics, are careful to state that the link is not proven, but they do urge parents to reduce, as much as possible, any exposure to pesticides.
Previous research had shown an association between both prenatal and postnatal pesticide exposure and developmental problems in young children. So the evidence continues to build.
There are, of course, other causes of ADHD including a family history of the condition and other prenatal risks such as tobacco exposure and alcohol exposure.
In terms of the pesticide issue, several actions are possible. They include buying organic, buying at farmers' markets and washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them.
For more information on shielding kids from pesticides, you can go to http://www.epa.gov/
A while back, I wrote about the amazing directional skills of London cab drivers. To be eligible for that job, drivers have to know, without having to refer to any maps or devices such as GPS, the location of every single street in their very large and complicated city. The benefit for passengers is enormous--since they can feel confident in relying on a driver getting them smoothly and accurately to any and all destinations. There is another benefit as well. Development of this skill leads to measurable changes in brain activity
Now there is another study from England--but this one represents the "other side of the spectrum." It seems that a fifth of children now have no idea where they live - because they no longer walk to school.
A survey has found that being ferried around in the car by their parents has destroyed their local awareness and knowledge. In addition, three-quarters of primary school children in South-East England could not give their postcode, and a fifth did not know their home address. When asked what they could see during their journey to school, the majority could not identify landmarks, instead picking up on houses and trees.
By contrast, in London where driving is less common, schoolchildren were the most savvy about their local area. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) walked to school each day, 86 per cent knew their home address and 61 per cent could say their postcode.
This is one more example of the effects of living in the modern age. The conveniences of life are great. But they must be used with discretion. It's vital that parents monitor what is going on and ensure that the children get the full range of experiences needed to become effective members of the community.
To this end, Kia Motors, which commissioned the survey of 2,000 primary schoolchildren, said: "Just like a proper breakfast, walking to school is a great way for children to start the day. Not only are they more alert when they arrive at school, it is good exercise and improves children's awareness of their local area."
It would be nice if this suggestion were picked up on this side of the Atlantic as well.
In a column on May 10th in the New York Times, columnist Ross Douthat offered some interesting information that, in one way or another, applies to all of us. Titled Red Family, Blue Family, Douthat starts by stating that "Fifty years ago, American family structures were remarkably uniform. The rich married at roughly the same rate as the poor and middle class. Divorce rates were low for the college educated and high school graduates alike. Out-of-wedlock births, while more common among African-Americans, were rare in almost every region and community."
Things are quite different. "The intact two-parent family has been in eclipse for decades now. ...the Pew Research Center reported that in 2008, 41 percent of American births occurred outside of marriage... And from divorce rates to teen births, nearly every indicator of family life now varies dramatically by education, race, geography and income."
He goes on to say, "In a rare convergence, conservatives and liberals basically agree on how this happened. First, the sexual revolution overturned the old order of single-earner households, early marriages, and strong stigmas against divorce and unwed motherhood. In its aftermath, the professional classes found a new equilibrium. Today, couples with college and (especially) graduate degrees tend to cohabit early and marry late, delaying childbirth and raising smaller families than their parents, while enjoying low divorce rates and bearing relatively few children out of wedlock.
For the rest of the country, this comfortable equilibrium remains out of reach. In the underclass (black, white and Hispanic alike), intact families are now an endangered species. For middle America, the ideal of the two-parent family endures, but the reality is much more chaotic: early marriages coexist with frequent divorces, and the out-of-wedlock birth rate keeps inching upward.
When it comes to drawing lessons from this story, though, the agreement between liberals and conservatives ends. The right tends to emphasize what’s been lost. They argue--using a theme that suggests you CAN go home again, that most Americans — especially the poor and working-class — would benefit from a stronger link between sex, marriage and procreation. The left argues that it’s the right-wing backlash against abortion, contraception and sex education that’s preventing downscale Americans from attaining the new upper-middle-class stability, and reaping its social and economic benefits."
A new book “Red Families v. Blue Families,” by two law professors, Naomi Cahn and June Carbone explores this issue further. They claim that a culturally conservative “red America” is stuck trying to sustain an outdated social model. By insisting--unrealistically--on chastity before marriage, the authors argue that social conservatives guarantee that their children will get pregnant early and often, resulting in teen childbirth, shotgun marriages and high divorce rates. This cycle could explain why socially conservative states have more family instability than the culturally liberal Northeast.
With the many problems facing our nation, this issue has not been receiving the attention it merits. For all of us, the way it plays out is vital to the long-term health and resilience of our nation. For those who would like to read more about the topic, go to http://www.amazon.com/Red-Families-v-Blue-Polarization/dp/0195372174
Last week, a parent raised one of the queries that I regularly receive about spelling. Specifically, her question was, " I am curious to know if you have any insight about my son's spelling errors. He is in fourth grade and on his spelling test, which he practices for all week, he spells many words phonetically, but incorrectly. Examples are mixing up -ie and -ei; also -le, -el, -al endings as well as the -ant and -ent endings."
Actually, many parents who see their children struggling with basic words like "dawg" and "kat" would be delighted if their children were as far along as this child. After all, his mistakes are limited to relatively subtle details. But still, it's dismaying to see a bright, hard-working child struggling for years with spelling inaccuracies.
Some of the difficulties have been written about extensively.
As linguists and educators have pointed out, in contrast to languages such as Spanish whose words display far more "regular" sound-symbol relationships, English is highly variable. Look at what happens, for example, to the "ough" cluster as it appears in words such as rough, through, and thorough. This variability is certainly a significant complication.
But there is another major factor--and it is one that receives almost no attention. It has to do with visual processing issues in reading. For many years, visual processing dominated the discussion in reading. Indeed, problems in this realm were seen as the basis for dyslexia. Then that view was challenged, resulting in visual processing issues dropping off the radar screen. That's why, if you ask teachers today what their views are in this area, they will generally be stumped. The topic is simply not covered in their training.
As the fourth graders errors above indicated, It's clear that phonics, or sounding out, doesn't work in spelling. The vagaries of English mean that even a simple word like "come" could have several spellings (including com, cum, kum, kom, kome). To deal with this difficulty, rules--hundreds of rules-- are created. There are lots of rules for reading.(ironically the word "come" itself violates one of the most common reading rules--namely the "silent e" rule). The rules for spelling are even more numerous and more cumbersome--because they often involve the context, or placement, of the letters in the word in question. For example, children will be taught that at the start of a word, a "gh" has the "g" sound (as in "ghost") but at the end of a word, it has an "f" sound as in "enough." Except, of course, for the "exceptions" shown in the through and thorough examples above.
Aside from a rare group of children, memorization of hundreds of complex rules are not a path to spelling accuracy. Basically a person can spell (write) accurately only if he or she has the visual patterns of words solidly (and unconsciously) in their memory banks. Because no attention is paid to the visual processes involved and because all the attention goes to rule learning, the instruction typically does nothing to create this bank. It's long been known that spelling tests fail to handle the problem since they do little to achieve accurate spelling--even when the words are accurately written in the tests themselves. Nevertheless, they are a well-established, easy-to-implement technique and so they continue to dominate the scene.
Further, with the introduction of "invented spelling" (where children are encouraged to spell words in any way that seems "right" to them), guarantees were essentially put into place that for many, if not most, children, accurate spelling will not take place. Essentially, invented spelling means that during the first critical formative years of writing, no solid visual patterns are laid down. In their place is a set of "variable, inconsistent" patterns with no solid foundation. Once created, these "patterns" are difficult to dislodge.
That does not mean that the situation is hopeless. Because this issue comes up so frequently, in previous blogs such as http://blog.phonicsplusfive.com/2007/02/duz_ackurit_spelling_matir.html#more I offer exercises to establish accurate spelling. Of course, it is easier and more effective to put these practices in place when a child first starts to read. But, with a bit more diligence, they can also be used with children who are further along in the process.