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Making sense of spelling - Gina Cooke

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TEDEd Animation

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What can spelling tell us about relationships between words? While spelling may sometimes seem random or unexpected, this lesson illuminates how peeling back the layers of spelling helps us understand the complex history and meaningful structure of words.

A word's history and its historical relatives inform us about why it is spelled as it is. For example, the in two makes sense when we think of its relationship to twin, twice, twelve, twenty, and between. Look up some other words with the letters in a dictionary, and check the historical (etymological) information. Do they bear any meaningful relationship to the word two? Try twig, twist, twine, twill, and twilight. Consider the in debt or the in sign or the in muscle: why do you think those letters are there?

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Animator David Bernal
  • Educator Gina Cooke
  • Narrator Gina Cooke

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