Spelling Games for all occasions

The Game's Up

For Mature Adults

with the magic spell of spelling

The English have always liked to treat serious things as Games.

Life is a Game

Cricket is a Game

Lifemanship is a Game

Lifepersonship could even be set up as a Game of Sorts.

English spelling is a most serious thing, being the most dedly spelling in the world, even dedr than the French. That is why Scrabble is a Game.

Here now is a whole book of Adult Spelling Games, and even R-Classified Spelling Reform Games.

Games for those long winter days when the TV is off

for those long summer days when the children are bored

for when a class at schools starts demanding some education.

If you like Scrabble, Crosswords, cross words, the Goon Show, charades, Black Magic, spells and breaking spells, the preservation of our heritage of civilisation, Gulliver's Travels, Australian humour -

If you like anything - you might like these Games. We Start with a Spelling ABC below, which is different from a Spelling B.

Spelling Games to be posted include:

  • Babl
  • Blotto
  • Discovery Learning Games
  • Economy Spelling
  • Homofones
  • Invent your own Spelling
  • Learn to read English the Paulo Freire Way
  • Spelling Games in School
  • Spelling Spotting
  • Spelling-in-the-round
  • The 16-spelling-test - 16 simple, common words all the experts cannot spell
  • The Magic Spell
  • Spelling Menu with ghoti - a typical Gmeaumpeau
  • Puns and word-play with English spelling
  • Mark Twain -

Play these Games on October 9, International Spelling Day - the same day that Korea has for many years celebrated its National Spelling Day and its reformed Great Letters.

These Games may be called a first venture into the field of PsychoSpelling. And may the subject never have any more jargon or be any more pretentious than it is in these slim pages.

Spelling Tomorrow lies ahed. The General Public may assume that any new ways of spelling would be as bad and difficult as English spelling is now and need everything to be reprinted. Not so. Find out.

I welcome more Spelling Games and other Gimiks and Gajets that can help the public take up improving present spelling as a popular cause that they can understand.

Here is A Spelling ABC,
which is different from a Spelling B

Spelling BEEs used to be the acid test as to whether you were Educated - or not.

The acid test for Education today is the Spelling ABC. Answers are posted below.

In a Spelling ABC Quiz,:

* Contestants are asked questions about Spelling

* Every time they win a trick, they win the right to ask everyone else, including the judges and audience, any other Spelling Question, whether they know the answer themselves or not.

*And if nobody knows the answer, it's up to the judges to go off and find out.

Quizmasters can ask any of the following - or anything else. There is an element of chance in winning or losing because you might get an easy questions, or you might get a hard one.


1. How many letters are there in the alfabet?

2. How many speech sounds are there in the English language? (That is, the basic minimum fonemes without going into fine discriminations.)

3. How many spelling patterns in English spelling represent those basic sounds?

4. a. Are there any letters in the alfabet that are always sounded the same way?

b. If so, which?

5. How many letters can be silent? eg e is silent in private.

6. a. Are there any sounds that are always spelled the same way? b. If so, which?

7. a. What sound has the greatest number of possible spellings?

b. What consonant sound has the greatest number of possible spellings?

8. What letter has the greatest number of possible ways to pronounce it? (Not counting when it is part of a letter combination like 'th')

9. Eat can be pronounced as in eat, great or sweat. How many different sounds can be spelled with ough?

10. Did you know that most major languages in the world, even French, have improved their writing systems in the past 150 years? a) Name five languages that have had sweeping changes in their writing systems in the past 150 years.

b) Name five languages that have had small but important changes in the past 150 years.

11. How many reasons can you think of why English spelling can never be changed? Look at the evidence for them.

12. About how many vowel letters are in the English language? a) What are they?

b) About how many English spelling patterns are used to spell them?

13. When did the English first start saying that their spelling needed spelling reform?

14. Name three great makers of English dictionaries who thought English spelling needed reforming and tried to make some reforms themselves?

15. Name dozens of eminent people who have wanted English spelling reform.

16.a. How many different ways do children spell scissors? (Rough guess) b. What is the most common way that children misspell scissors? c. Which is sillier, the mis-spelling or the 'proper spelling'?

17. How many 'contradictory facts' do children have to accept in learning present English spelling, according to Sir James Murray, compiler of the Oxford English dictionary?

18. Name as many principles of education that you can which are contradicted when children have to be taught present English spelling.

19. Do we learn about the history of our words from their spellings?

20. How do people in other countries with updated writing systems learn about the history of the words in their language?

Answers to the Spelling ABC

1. There are 26 letters in the alfabet.

2. There are around 44 speech sounds (fonemes). Consonants are: h l m n r w y hw ng and voiced-unvoiced pairs b-p, d-t, v-f, th-th, z-s, g-k, j-ch, zh-sh. The 19 vowels, including the most common fused diphthongs (merging sounds) are: a e i o u ae ee ie oe ue ah er air aw ow oy oo (boot) oo (book) plus the most common vowel sound, which is the unclear sound 'schwa' as in proper, dependant.

3. A J Ellis worked out that these 44 English speech sounds can be spelled at least 658 different ways.

4. a. Are there any letters in the alfabet that are always sounded the same way? None. Even k and m are sometimes silent as in knot and mnemonic. b) None.

5. All 26 letters can be silent at times. We have a def and dum alfabet.

6. No sounds can be relied upon to be always spelt the same way.

7. What sound has the greatest number of possible spellings? The obscure vowel 'schwa' which is unstressed has 66 posibl spellings. Next comes i and AE, with 51 possible spellings each. For a, 38 of these spellings are in common use, as in - baby, made, played, maelstrom, champagne, dahlia, maim, raise, campaign, straight, trait, halfpenny, gaol, gaoled, plague, plaguing, gauged, gauging, may, mayor, re, they, great, fete, feted, matinee, veil, dossier, Seine, reign, reigned, eight, weighed, ballet, conveyed, eyre, applique, bouquet.

7b. The sound s has 25 fairly common spellings: sit, hiss, kissed, scene, coalesce, schism, case, dishonest, raspberry, thistle, isthmus, Mrs, sword, cell, ace, Gloucester, Worcester, psalm, worsted, boatswain, waltz, next, except, exhibition, pizzicato

8. Letters a e o can all be pronounced in ten different ways, eg,

for A - man about many stomach was making tamtam part fall Isaac

for E - egg open fern sergeant feted femme pretty be azalea have

for O - on orb atom reason women woman mother over do choir.

9. Ough can be pronounced a least 6 different ways, as in cough, dough, through, thought, doughty, enough, thorough.

10. Well, you know now. a) Possible answers could Indonesian, Turkish, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Malaysian, Vietnamese b) Possible answers include Dutch Greek, Hebrew, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese.

11. Huh. The main ones are inertia and better spelling might look different for a while.

12. a) Six letters used as vowels - a e i o u y b) Over 213 common spelling patterns.

13. People first started saying that English spelling needed spelling reform as soon as they started to spell, in medieval times.

14. Great makers of English dictionaries who tried to promote spelling reform - Samuel Johnson, Noah Webster, James Murray and H W Fowler of the Oxford English Dictionary and English Usage all thought English spelling needed reforming and tried to make some sensible reforms themselves, including Johnson.

15. Hundreds of eminent historical persons have wanted English spelling to be reformed, including Shaw, Mark Twain, Dickens, President Theodore Roosevelt, Prince Philip . .

16. a) How many different ways do children spell scissors? Over two hundred. b) The commonest way they mis-spell is sisors. c) Which is sillier, the mis-spelling or the 'proper spelling'? Your guess.

17. Sir James Murray, lexicographer, said there were 'thousands of contradictory facts' in English spelling.

18. Principles of education that are contradicted include reason, independent thinking, self-help, generalising, experimental method, respect for elders' wisdom, creativity, useful task, efficiency . .

19 Not much. What do you learn from their spellings about the history of words like are could through who you that you could not find more reliably in a dictionary, or that you need every day when you use those spellings?

20. They look up dictionaries.

What the Games are all about

The aim of the Spelling Games in this book are a lighthearted way to get people to look at English spellng without fear in their hearts. They can overcome their awe about tampering with it as something meant to be sacred rather than useful.

The Games show people what spelling change can look like. The idea and appearances of change become familiar so that eventual modernization will be acceptable rather than shocking.

People can experiment. They can find out that writing in a consistent spelling system is easy and fun, -just as once you hae got the hang of it, and a bike, a bike is easier than walking.

Those who take spelling or spelling reform in a very serious 'sacred cow' way may be shokd. The idea that a non-expert can play around with notions of improving spelling can test whether you are a Mature Adult, who can withstand shock. What will happen if every Jill and Jack put up their own ideas. I think that popular joining-in would actually help the 'experts' to discover wht people are really able to do in the way of spelling, and that is will help the most useful spelling to come to tyhe top. The 'best' spelling will elnd up being not the perfect flawless theory from the laboratory, but a tool that takes into account the human capcities and limitations of the people who are to use it.

Other spelling games to be found on other pages of Ozideas

Discovery Learning Game - Learn to read by the alphabetic or whole word method

The roman alfabet in India - a disappointing story

Spelling and Society - why English spelling developd as it has

Spelling Reforms in other countries - Why can't the English?

Spelling reform proposals in English - examples

Help Yourself to Read by Video

Exploring English spelling

Further sites on spelling:

 1. Introduction
Introduction to spelling improvement. Text of a radio broadcast
Rationale. How assumptions and barriers against improving the writing system do not hold. Answering the common objections to spelling improvement. /sration.htm

2 Needs and abilities of users and learners: -

i. Needs and abilities of readers /sreadsp.htm
ii. Needs and abilities of writers to spell - /swritsp.htm
iii. Needs and abilities of learners - /slernsp.htm
iv. Needs and abilities of users of international English - /sintrnt.htm
v. Spelling reform for the Internet (an older page) http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/spinternet.htm

3. The nature and teaching of English spelling

See the online video, http://www.ozreadandspell.com.au
The underlying English spelling system that could be made more consistent - /spelsys.htm
Spelling patterns for the English vowels - /svowchart.htm
The Book of Spells & Misspells
- a treasury of spelling for everyone
22 Lessons in reading and spelling - v01acover.htm
The 16 word spelling test for anyone who thinks they can spell - 16sp.htm
Spelling and classroom practices - sclassprac.htm

4 Improving English spelling

Spelling improvement. 2002. - /spelimp.html
Seven principles to repair English spelling, 2005 - /sp7princ.htm
Cutting out the surplus letters in words.Streamline - a first step in updating spelling. /ssurplu.htm
Quik gidelines for a next step, with sampl texts, and furthr notes /sfastrs.htm. FASTR Spelling
Cutting out surplus letters. /intspel.htm 2002
Further steps you can try yourself, with f, j, consistent word endings and vowel spellings. /intspel2.htm
Further experiments to spel sensibly - Pronunciation and gramr, and a final solusion? /intspel3.htm 2000
The future of English spelling. What can be done? /sfutspe.htm

5. Spelling as an entertainment

Spelling Games - starting with a Spelling ABC - different from a Spelling BEE
16-word Spelling Test of 16 common words that few experts can spell all correctly. /16sp.htm
International English Spelling Day, October 9 /spday.html
How people spelled when they spelled as they liked before the 18th century dictionaries /spfree17c.htm
Don Quixote spells in 'Spelling without traps'. - /spquixote.htm. To come
Twelve Short Short storys about the fùtùr. Can u imagin a mor ùser-frendly speling sistem? Look at every wurd to see if u think its speling is a trap for lerners.