Words and Numbers

Miles is just beginning to read in earnest. Had a classic first reading experience with him last night, working our way through the first few pages of Green Eggs and Ham (couldn’t ask for a more textbook test harness). Interesting to be reminded of how deeply we’ve internalized the arbitrariness of our language, and how profoundly the unintuitive bits strike someone just learning our non-rule rules for the first time.

Capitalizing on the words and spelling patterns he’s learned so far, M wanted to know why “do” isn’t spelled “doo,” why “edge” isn’t spelled “ej” and was pretty peeved about the seemingly random presence of silent “e” (not to mention the silent “l” in “would”).

Numbers always make sense, but languages only make sense when they feel like it.

But why???

How can you explain such a thing to a 5-year-old who barely knows what history means, let alone the migration of cultures and evolution of languages? Those are even harder to explain than the fact that the “b” in “lamb” is slightly less subtle than the “b” in “subtle.”

I do not like them in a boat, I do not like them with a goat. I do not like them, Sam I am.

So we’re ditching English around the house and doing immersion Esperanto instead. And we’re switching our keyboards to Dvorak. OK, that’s a joke, but this is serious: Miles’ school teaches only the metric system, from kindergarten on. Admirable, or not so much?

Music: Elvis Costello :: Let Him Dangle