Homophone Friday Series: ferry, fairy

I am starting a new series to sighing the homophone principle. English has a unique characteristic to its language

ferry vs fairy

called the homophone principle. Essentially if there is a word that is pronounced the same as another word with a different meaning it will take a different spelling if it is possible.

Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently. English has many, many homophones. The most common are: two/to/too, eye/I, won/one, four/for/fore, here/hear, wear/where. Many people get confused with homophones, which are a characteristic of our English writing system and not a defect.

The grapheme choice for homophones are mostly etymologically driven. This means that studying where the word comes from and what its story is tells us a lot about how it will be spelled. When this is taken into account rather than thinking that spelling is only about phonology, then homophones make more sense.

I have recently started a series called, “Homophone Friday” looking at homophones which may be common or uncommon. The series will feature the IPA symbol representation of a homophone, as IPA is the way “sound” can be written. It will feature at least two words that are pronounced the same. Sometimes, there may be 3 or 4 words that are pronounced the same.

If you have a homophone that you are intrigued about, please email me at lisa@lisaklipfelmft.com. I am keeping a live Google slideshow of the homophones that I study to share with you. Click here for link.

What is a Phoneme and Why is Phonemic Awareness Important?

A phoneme is a unit of sound or sounds. A phoneme allows a student to hear the three separate sounds of “cat” – /k//a//t/. There are some phonemes that carry more than one sound, for example the “q” and “x”. The “q” has the sounds /k//w/ and the “x” has the /k//s/. Some may argue that it is two phonemes, but it is really 2 sounds that make up that one phoneme. Likewise there are some sounds such as /sh/ that have a 2 letter grapheme, “sh”.

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear all the sounds in a word. For a word as easy as “cat”, there is three /k//a//t/. The struggles come in with the blends. “Mold” is often hard for some dyslexic student to hear the separate /l/ and /d/ at the end. The word “wild” is similar. Beginning blends can be difficult for dyslexic students to hear the /r/ or /l/, such as “blind” or “grand”. The purpose of phonemic awareness is to teach a student to break down what they hear, to ensure they are recognizing all the sounds present for a word. When a student is unable to master phonemic awareness, letters are often omitted, especially “r” and “l” at the beginning or “l” or “n” neat the end. When this skill is not mastered, they will struggle with reading, and even more so with spelling.