quarta-feira, 31 de outubro de 2012

Halloween's History

Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31.  The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows’ Evening also known as Hallowe'en or All Hallows' Eve.

Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting "haunted houses" and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.
Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced "sah-win").
The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.
The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween.
Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.
Trick-or-treating, is an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, "Trick or treat?" The "trick" part of "trick or treat" is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters.
The history of Halloween has evolved.  The activity is popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and due to increased American cultural influence in recent years, imported through exposure to US television and other media, trick-or-treating has started to occur among children in many parts of Europe, and in the Saudi Aramco camps of Dhahran, Akaria compounds and Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia. The most significant growth and resistance is in the United Kingdom, where the police have threatened to prosecute parents who allow their children to carry out the "trick" element. In continental Europe, where the commerce-driven importation of Halloween is seen with more skepticism, numerous destructive or illegal "tricks" and police warnings have further raised suspicion about this game and Halloween in general.
In Ohio, Iowa, and Massachusetts, the night designated for Trick-or-treating is often referred to as Beggars Night.
Part of the history of Halloween  is Halloween costumes. The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of "souling," when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of "puling [whimpering, whining], like a beggar at Hallowmas."
Yet there is no evidence that souling was ever practiced in America, and trick-or-treating may have developed in America independent of any Irish or British antecedent. There is little primary Halloween history documentation of masking or costuming on Halloween — in Ireland, the UK, or America — before 1900. The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America occurs in 1911, when a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario, near the border of upstate New York, reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street guising (see below) on Halloween between 6 and 7 p.m., visiting shops and neighbors to be rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs. Another isolated reference appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920. The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the turn of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but do not depict trick-or-treating. Ruth Edna Kelley, in her 1919 history of the holiday, The Book of Hallowe'en, makes no mention of such a custom in the chapter "Hallowe'en in America." It does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the earliest known uses in print of the term "trick or treat" appearing in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939. Thus, although a quarter million Scots-Irish immigrated to America between 1717 and 1770, the Irish Potato Famine brought almost a million immigrants in 1845–1849, and British and Irish immigration to America peaked in the 1880s, ritualized begging on Halloween was virtually unknown in America until generations later.
Trick-or-treating spread from the western United States eastward, stalled by sugar rationing that began in April 1942 during World War II and did not end until June 1947.
Early national attention to trick-or-treating was given in October 1947 issues of the children's magazines Jack and Jill and Children's Activities, and by Halloween episodes of the network radio programs The Baby Snooks Show in 1946 and The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948. The custom had become firmly established in popular culture by 1952, when Walt Disney portrayed it in the cartoon Trick or Treat, Ozzie and Harriet were besieged by trick-or-treaters on an episode of their television show, and UNICEF first conducted a national campaign for children to raise funds for the charity while trick-or-treating.
Jack O'Lantern
Trick-or-treating on the prairie. Although some popular histories of Halloween have characterized trick-or-treating as an adult invention to re-channel Halloween activities away from vandalism, nothing in the historical record supports this theory. To the contrary, adults, as reported in newspapers from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, typically saw it as a form of extortion, with reactions ranging from bemused indulgence to anger. Likewise, as portrayed on radio shows, children would have to explain what trick-or-treating was to puzzled adults, and not the other way around. Sometimes even the children protested: for Halloween 1948, members of the Madison Square Boys Club in New York City carried a parade banner that read "American Boys Don't Beg."

quinta-feira, 25 de outubro de 2012

Understandying Dyslexia

Sarah hates reading aloud in class. She's never been a good reader, and even when she recognizes the words on the page, she seems to have trouble saying them correctly. School's never been her favorite place anyway because her teachers always complain about her writing and her spelling. She often gets discouraged, thinking that she's not as smart as other students.

Fortunately, Sarah has discovered she has talents that others don't. She's great at dreaming up costume and scenery ideas in drama club, and she's one of the best artists in her school. Sometimes she wonders how she can do so well in some areas of her life and so poorly in others.

What Sarah, her parents, and her teachers don't realize is that Sarah has dyslexia.

What Is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia (pronounced: dis-lek-see-ah) is a type of learning disability. A person with a learning disability has trouble processing words or numbers. There are several kinds of learning disabilities; dyslexia is the term used when people have difficulty learning to read, even though they are smart enough and are motivated to learn. The word dyslexia comes from two Greek words: dys, which means abnormal or impaired, and lexis, which refers to language or words.

Dyslexia is not a disease. It's a condition that you are born with, and it often runs in families. People with dyslexia are not stupid or lazy. Most have average or above-average intelligence, and they work very hard to overcome their learning problems.

What Causes Dyslexia?
Research has shown that dyslexia happens because of the way the brain processes information. Pictures of the brain, taken with modern imaging tools, have shown that when people with dyslexia read, they use different parts of the brain than people without dyslexia. These pictures also show that the brains of people with dyslexia don't work efficiently during reading. So that's why reading seems like such slow, hard work.

Most people think that dyslexia causes people to reverse letters and numbers and see words backwards. But reversals occur as a normal part of development, and are seen in many kids until first or second grade. The main problem in dyslexia is trouble recognizing phonemes (pronounced: fo-neems), which are the basic sounds of speech (the "b" sound in "bat" is a phoneme, for example). Therefore, it's a struggle to make the connection between the sound and the letter symbol for that sound, and to blend sounds into words.

This makes it hard to recognize short, familiar words or to sound out longer words. It takes a lot of time for a person with dyslexia to sound out a word. The meaning of the word is often lost, and reading comprehension is poor. It is not surprising that people with dyslexia have trouble spelling. They may also have trouble expressing themselves in writing and even speaking. Dyslexia is a language processing disorder, so it can affect all forms of language, either spoken or written.

Some people have milder forms of dyslexia, so they may have less trouble in these other areas of spoken and written language. Some people work around their dyslexia, but it takes a lot of effort and extra work. Dyslexia isn't something that goes away on its own or that a person outgrows. Fortunately, with proper help, most people with dyslexia learn to read. They often find different ways to learn and use those strategies all their lives.

What's It Like to Have Dyslexia?
If you have dyslexia, you might have trouble reading even simple words you've seen many times. You probably will read slowly and feel that you have to work extra-hard when reading. You might mix up the letters in a word, for example, reading the word "now" as "won" or "left" as "felt." Words may blend together and spaces are lost. Phrases might appear like this:

You might have trouble remembering what you've read. You may remember more easily when the same information is read to you or heard on tape. Word problems in math may be especially hard, even if you've mastered the basics of arithmetic. If you're doing a presentation in front of the class, you might have trouble finding the right words or names for various objects. Spelling and writing usually are very hard for people with dyslexia.

How Is Dyslexia Diagnosed?
People with dyslexia frequently find ways to work around their disability, so no one will know they're having trouble. This may save some embarrassment, but getting help could make school and reading easier. Most people are diagnosed as kids, but it's not unusual for teens or even adults to be diagnosed.

A teen's parents or teachers might suspect dyslexia if they notice many of these problems:
1. poor reading skills, despite having normal intelligence 
2. poor spelling and writing skills
difficulty finishing assignments and tests within time limits
3. difficulty remembering the right names for things
4. difficulty memorizing written lists and phone numbers
5. difficulty with directions (telling right from left or up from down) or reading maps
6. difficulty getting through foreign language classes
7. If someone has one of these problems it doesn't mean he or she has dyslexia, but someone who shows several of these signs should be tested for the condition.

A physical exam should be done to rule out any medical problems, including hearing and vision tests. Then a school psychologist or learning specialist should give several standardized tests to measure language, reading, spelling, and writing abilities. Sometimes a test of thinking ability (IQ test) is given. Some people with dyslexia have trouble in other school skills, like handwriting and math, or they may have trouble paying attention or remembering things. If this is the case, more testing will be done.

Dealing With Dyslexia
Although dealing with dyslexia can be tough, help is available. Under federal law, someone diagnosed with a learning disability like dyslexia is entitled to extra help from the public school system. A child or teen with dyslexia usually needs to work with a specially trained teacher, tutor, or reading specialist to learn how to read and spell better. The best type of help teaches awareness of speech sounds in words (called phonemic awareness) and letter-sound correspondences (called phonics). The teacher or tutor should use special learning and practice activities for dyslexia.

A student with dyslexia may get more time to complete assignments or tests, permission to tape class lectures, or copies of lecture notes. Using a computer with spelling checkers can be helpful for written assignments. For older students in challenging classes, services are available that provide any book on tape, even textbooks. Computer software is also available that "reads" printed material aloud. Ask your parent, teacher, or learning disability services coordinator how to get these services if you need them.

Treatment with eye exercises or glasses with tinted lenses will not help a person with dyslexia. It's not an eye problem, it's a language processing problem, so teaching language processing skills is the most important part of treatment.

Emotional support for people with dyslexia is very important. They often get frustrated because no matter how hard they try, they can't seem to keep up with other students. They often feel that they are stupid or worthless, and may cover up their difficulties by acting up in class or by becoming the class clown. They may try to get other students to do their work for them. They may pretend that they don't care about their grades or that they think school is dumb.

Family and friends can help people with dyslexia by understanding that they aren't stupid or lazy, and that they are trying as hard as they can. It's important to recognize and appreciate each person's strengths, whether they're in sports, drama, art, creative problem solving, or something else.

People with dyslexia shouldn't feel limited in their academic or career choices. Most colleges make special accommodations for students with dyslexia, offering them trained tutors, learning aids, computer software, reading assignments on tape, and special arrangements for exams. People with dyslexia can become doctors, politicians, corporate executives, actors, artists, teachers, inventors, business entrepreneurs, or whatever else they choose.

Reviewed by: Laura L. Bailet, PhD

quinta-feira, 18 de outubro de 2012

The Lure of Laziness

By Nando Pelusi, Ph.D. 

How many times have you thrown your Saturday morning plans out the window in favor of an extra two hours of sleep? How many New Year's resolutions do you carry over year to year? How many brilliant ideas never stand a fighting chance because you're too absorbed by the online and flat-screen worlds?

The feeble battle cry "I'll get around to it" is a phrase our ancestors likely never uttered. Their focus was survival in the here and now. Our focus is how to make the here and now as comfortable as possible. And because our basic needs are relatively easily met, we have the luxury—and burden—of fretting, dreaming, and procrastinating about future actions, while doing very little.

In the grand scheme of things, we're all members of the leisure class now. No matter how hard you work (and I'm sure you work hard), you've likely got it better than any generation in the history of mankind.

For most of human existence, resources were scarce and unpredictable, so it behooved us to conserve energy as much as possible. External motivators were powerful and compelling: Starvation and predation were constant threats; days and nights alternated between searing sunlight and freezing darkness. Because it was so critical for our nomadic forebears to conserve energy, we evolved to expend minimal effort when we can get away with doing so.

Today our lot is reversed: We have abundant sources of energy and few directly compelling motivators. Most of us are not parched or hunted by homicidal predators. Enter ego concerns, predinner martinis, window-shopping, and the mixed blessing of long-term planning.

Our ancestors encountered little delay between desire and action: Feeling thirsty meant looking for water, feeling hungry meant looking for food, and feeling amorous meant looking for mates. Our behavior required little or no self-talk.

The emotions that helped our ancestors survive were born out of short-term exigency. There was no point thinking long-term in a world without medicine, banks, or even refrigeration. That's not to say they couldn't dream big. But it's not hard to imagine their dreams getting interrupted by requirements of daily survival.

As Kalman Glantz, a psychotherapist and the coauthor of Exiles From Eden, points out, laziness emerged only when planning for the future became possible. "Once there was some reason to continue working even though one's immediate needs were satisfied, some people turned out to be more future-oriented than others. Some people continued to work when they weren't hungry or cold or thirsty. And those people called others lazy."

Many of us feel oppressed by long-term goals that do not bear directly on survival or status—they gnaw at us and distract from our daily enjoyment. Sticking to a workout regimen, jump-starting that screenplay, and transferring vinyl to digital are all easier planned than done. That's because, in general, we're keenly responsive to immediate stimulation and to present-moment distractions and not to iffy future plans. Instead of recognizing that it is fundamentally ingrained in our nature to discount the amorphous future, we lambaste ourselves over what we "should" be doing.

Laziness by definition is not uncomfortable—it is simply an unwillingness to expend energy. But laziness in an environment where we could be highly productive is a recipe for discomfort.

Our evolutionarily novel environment allows for grandiose plans and dreams, but these very opportunities can feel overwhelming. Once we've generated a goal, we believe that we've got to do something about it. We're torn between competing desires: I want to accomplish this idealized plan, but it must not be too hard. In fact, I need it to be easy.

That's where procrastination comes in. We put off a task because we think it is too difficult; our bias is to fool ourselves into thinking we'll do it tomorrow. Some psychologists even allege that procrastination has been deemed a problem only since the Industrial Revolution, when scheduling demands drastically increased.

Because we evolved with a focus on immediate returns, any behavior that is not instantly rewarding is aversive. Impulsivity was useful for most of human prehistory, because an environment without schedules, snail mail, and quarterly earnings offered instant concrete feedback about one's actions.

Today, impulsivity is strongly associated with procrastination. As Piers Steel, a behavioral scientist at the University of Calgary, points out, we'd rather do that which is promptly rewarding, like playing Nintendo, than study for an exam that is months away.

Since by definition we cannot get immediate feedback about the future, we can easily lose confidence in our ability to perform a given task that lies ahead, and this becomes a recipe for avoidance and procrastination. We imagine that working toward a long-term goal will be nightmarishly painful and downright unbearable. The reality is that it won't be too bad once we're in the groove (say, after a solid 15 minutes of work).

But 15 minutes of aversive effort is very novel for humans used to immediate feedback. Our tendency toward inertia and procrastination causes us to tell ourselves, "It will be too hard to start working on a grand project, so I'll wait until I feel like it."

Accomplishing practically anything today means overcoming the need for instant gratification—and questioning the idea that a task will be excessively painful. The rewards of getting what you want in the long run make the present-moment hassles worth enduring. Of course, you risk an infinite regress in getting lazy about fighting laziness. Not to worry—you can start work at any time.

How to Fight Inertia

Instant reward is the default setting of the brain, but we like ourselves better when we tackle unpleasant tasks.

Start Small. Ask yourself, "Why is it too hard to do this for just 15 minutes?" It isn't, and you'll find that you quickly enjoy some tasks (somewhat).

Challenge Yourself. Dispute the idea that you can't do it. Often, we learn by trial and error, and if you take a long-range view, you'll find that you can do something difficult.

Keep Tabs. Write out your goals daily. We're more likely to stick to our plans if we monitor our progress toward a goal.

Commit to Others. Make a public commitment to complete a task. The extrinsic motivation provided by others will make you more conscientious about getting it done.

Accept Incremental Progress. Dispute the idea that you need comfort and immediate reward. Getting rid of these ideas can refocus you on your long-term goal.

Reward Yourself. Relaxation differs from laziness in that it is a reward for a completed task. Let yourself relax after a period of sustained effort.



segunda-feira, 15 de outubro de 2012

Looper – the Movie - review

A dizzying and exciting time-travel thriller in which an assassin has to hunt himself down.
Rian Johnson's Looper is very exciting and very confusing at the same time: a gripping time-travel, sci-fi thriller indebted to Christopher Nolan'sMemento and James Cameron'sThe Terminator, but with its own creepiness and muscular sense of urgency. Bewilderingly, the film is set in the future, in 2044, and also 30 years further ahead than that. In 2074, time travel is invented, and at once made illegal by a nervous government; at the same time, surveillance technology and CSI-style forensic skills make killing people very difficult, so crime syndicates get hold of a samizdat time-travel device and use this to "remove" troublesome people. Victims are whooshed back in time 30 years where lowly paid assassins blast them with shotguns and get paid in silver bars strapped to the victim's body. But there's a catch. The killers are known as "loopers", because one day they must close the loop. Their future middle-aged selves must be liquidated, because they have amassed too much information about their employer, so are sent back in time for assassination with the special retirement payoff of gold bars strapped on. The younger self must then pull the trigger, and accept, with as much zen calm as possible, his disappearance in 30 years. One of these loopers is Joe, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (above) – but when his older self, played by Bruce Willis, comes back, he somehow evades the execution and Joe has to hunt himself down.
As with all time-travel movies, there is an awkward moment when one character asks plaintively about the logical impossibilities inherent in what's happening and another character tells him to just shut up and forget about it. Of course, there is no sense in the time travel in Looper, but no less sense than in any other film in this genre. Johnson makes up for it with narrative force, mesmeric fascination and a sense of a profound taboo being broken. Gordon-Levitt is made up oddly – to look like Willis's younger self, of course, but this has an uncanny effect, adding to the mutant strangeness that pervades the movie. It's different from the comedy in Robert Zemeckis's Back to the Future(1985) and the deadpan science in Shane Carruth's cult indie Primer (2004). There is violence and fear: criminals have corrupted the very tenets of space and time. Jeff Daniels has a funny cameo as Abe, the gang boss who has to make excursions back in time to check this side of the operation is running smoothly. He is contemptuous of Joe taking French lessons and tells him to learn Mandarin because China is going to be all-important. ("I'm from the future; I know.") I left Looper dizzy with excitement, and also just dizzy.

sexta-feira, 12 de outubro de 2012

100 Most Often MispelledMisspelled Words in English

Here are the 100 words most commonly misspelled ('misspell' is one of them). Dr. Language has provided a one-stop cure for all your spelling ills. Each word has a mnemonic pill with it and, if you swallow it, it will help you to remember how to spell the word. Master the orthography of the words on this page and reduce the time you spend searching dictionaries by 50%. (Use the time you save celebrating in our gameroom.)

Teste de Nível de Inglês Descubra seu Nível de Inglês com o Teste Gratuito da Cultura Inglesa!www.CulturaInglesaSP.com.br/Teste


  • acceptable - Several words made the list because of the suffix pronounced -êbl but sometimes spelled -ible, sometimes -able. Just remember to accept any table offered to you and you will spell this word OK.
  • accidentally - It is no accident that the test for adverbs on -ly is whether they come from an adjective on -al ("accidental" in this case). If so, the -al has to be in the spelling. No publical, then publicly.
  • accommodate - Remember, this word is large enough to accommodate both a double "c" AND a double "m."
  • acquire - Try to acquire the knowledge that this word and the next began with the prefix ad- but the [d] converts to [c] before [q].
  • acquit - See the previous discussion.
  • a lot - Two words! Hopefully, you won't have to allot a lot of time to this problem.
  • amateur - Amateurs need not be mature: this word ends on the French suffix -eur (the equivalent of English -er).
  • apparent - A parent need not be apparent but "apparent" must pay the rent, so remember this word always has the rent.
  • argument - Let's not argue about the loss of this verb's silent [e] before the suffix -ment.
  • atheist - Lord help you remember that this word comprises the prefix a- "not" + the "god" (also in the-ology) + -ist "one who believes."


  • believe - You must believe that [i] usually comes before [e] except after [c] or when it is pronounced like "a" as "neighbor" and "weigh" or "e" as in "their" and "heir." Also take a look at "foreign" below. (The "i-before-e" rule has more exceptions than words it applies to.)
  • bellwether - Often misspelled "bellweather." A wether is a gelded ram, chosen to lead the herd (thus his bell) due to the greater likelihood that he will remain at all times ahead of the ewes.


  • calendar - This word has an [e] between two [a]s. The last vowel is [a].
  • category - This word is not in a category with "catastrophe" even if it sounds like it: the middle letter is [e].
  • cemetery - Don't let this one bury you: it ends on -ery nary an -ary in it. You already know it starts on [c], of course.
  • changeable - The verb "change" keeps its [e] here to indicate that the [g] is soft, not hard. (That is also why "judgement" is the correct spelling of this word, no matter what anyone says.)
  • collectible - Another -ible word. You just have to remember.
  • column - Silent final [e] is commonplace in English but a silent final [n] is not uncommon, especially after [m].
  • committed - If you are committed to correct spelling, you will remember that this word doubles its final [t] from "commit" to "committed."
  • conscience - Don't let misspelling this word weigh on your conscience: [ch] spelled "sc" is unusual but legitimate.
  • conscientious - Work on your spelling conscientiously and remember this word with [ch] spelled two different ways: "sc" and "ti."English spelling!
  • conscious - Try to be conscious of the "sc" [ch] sound and all the vowels in this word's ending and i-o-u a note of congratulations.
  • consensus - The census does not require a consensus, since they are not related.


  • daiquiri - Don't make yourself another daiquiri until you learn how to spell this funny word-the name of a Cuban village.
  • definite (ly) - This word definitely sounds as though it ends only on -it, but it carries a silent "e" everywhere it goes.
  • discipline - A little discipline, spelled with the [s] and the [c] will get you to the correct spelling of this one.
  • drunkenness - You would be surprised how many sober people omit one of the [n]s in this one.
  • dumbbell - Even smart people forget one of the [b]s in this one. (So be careful who you call one when you write.)


  • embarrass (ment) - This one won't embarrass you if you remember it is large enough for a double [r] AND a double [s].
  • equipment - This word is misspelled "equiptment" 22,932 times on the web right now.
  • exhilarate - Remembering that [h] when you spell this word will lift your spirits and if you remember both [a]s, it will be exhilarating!
  • exceed - Remember that this one is -ceed, not -cede. (To exceed all expectations, master the spellings of this word, "precede" and "supersede" below.)
  • existence - No word like this one spelled with an [a] is in existence. This word is a menage a quatre of one [i] with three [e]s.
  • experience - Don't experience the same problem many have with "existence" above in this word: -ence!


  • fiery - The silent "e" on "fire" is also cowardly: it retreats inside the word rather than face the suffix -y.
  • foreign - Here is one of several words that violate the i-before-e rule. (See "believe" above.)


  • gauge - You must learn to gauge the positioning of the [a] and [u] in this word. Remember, they are in alphabetical order (though not the [e]).
  • grateful - You should be grateful to know that keeping "great" out of "grateful" is great.
  • guarantee - I guarantee you that this word is not spelled like "warranty" even though they are synonyms.


  • harass - This word is too small for two double letters but don't let it harass you, just keep the [r]s down to one.
  • height - English reaches the height (not heighth!) of absurdity when it spells "height" and "width" so differently.
  • hierarchy - The i-before-e rule works here, so what is the problem?
  • humorous - Humor us and spell this word "humorous": the [r] is so weak, it needs an [o] on both sides to hold it up.


  • ignorance - Don't show your ignorance by spelling this word -ence!
  • immediate - The immediate thing to remember is that this word has a prefix, in- "not" which becomes [m] before [m] (or [b] or [p]). "Not mediate" means direct which is why "immediately" means "directly."
  • independent - Please be independent but not in your spelling of this word. It ends on -ent.
  • indispensable - Knowing that this word ends on -able is indispensable to good writing.
  • inoculate - This one sounds like a shot in the eye. One [n] the eye is enough.
  • intelligence - Using two [l]s in this word and ending it on -ence rather than -ance are marks of . . . you guessed it.
  • its/it's - The apostrophe marks a contraction of "it is." Something that belongs to it is "its."


  • jewelry - Sure, sure, it is made by a jeweler but the last [e] in this case flees the scene like a jewel thief. However, if you prefer British spelling, remember to double the [l]: "jeweller," "jewellery." (See also pronunciation.)
  • judgment - Traditionally, the word has been spelled judgment in all forms of the English language. However, the spelling judgement (with e added) largely replaced judgment in the United Kingdom in a non-legal context. In the context of the law, however, judgment is preferred. This spelling change contrasts with other similar spelling changes made in American English, which were rejected in the UK. In the US at least, judgment is still preferred and judgement is considered incorrect by many American style guides.


  • kernel (colonel) - There is more than a kernel of truth in the claim that all the vowels in this word are [e]s. So why is the military rank (colonel) pronounced identically? English spelling can bechaotic.


  • leisure - Yet another violator of the i-before-e rule. You can be sure of the spelling of the last syllable but not of the pronunciation.
  • liaison - Another French word throwing us an orthographical curve: a spare [i], just in case. That's an [s], too, that sounds like a [z].
  • library - It may be as enjoyable as a berry patch but that isn't the way it is spelled. That first [r] should be pronounced, too.
  • license - Where does English get the license to use both its letters for the sound [s] in one word?
  • lightning - Learning how to omit the [e] in this word should lighten the load of English orthography a little bit.


  • maintenance - The main tenants of this word are "main" and "tenance" even though it comes from the verb "maintain." English orthography at its most spiteful.
  • maneuver - Man, the price you pay for borrowing from French is high. This one goes back to French main + oeuvre "hand-work," a spelling better retained in the British spelling, "manoeuvre."
  • medieval - The medieval orthography of English even lays traps for you: everything about the MIDdle Ages is MEDieval or, as the British would write, mediaeval.
  • memento - Why would something to remind of you of a moment be spelled "memento?" Well, it is.
  • millennium - Here is another big word, large enough to hold two double consonants, double [l] and double [n].
  • miniature - Since that [a] is seldom pronounced, it is seldom included in the spelling. This one is a "mini ature;" remember that.
  • minuscule - Since something minuscule is smaller than a miniature, shouldn't they be spelled similarly? Less than cool, or "minus cule."
  • mischievous - This mischievous word holds two traps: [i] before [e] and [o] before [u]. Four of the five vowels in English reside here.
  • misspell - What is more embarrassing than to misspell the name of the problem? Just remember that it is mis + spell and that will spell you the worry about spelling "misspell."


  • neighbor - The word "neighbor" invokes the silent "gh" as well as "ei" sounded as "a" rule. This is fraught with error potential. If you use British spelling, it will cost you another [u]: "neighbour."
  • noticeable - The [e] is noticeably retained in this word to indicate the [c] is "soft," pronounced like [s]. Without the [e], it would be pronounced "hard," like [k], as in "applicable."


  • occasionally - Writers occasionally tire of doubling so many consonants and omit one, usually one of the [l]s. Don't you ever do it.
  • occurrence - Remember not only the occurrence of double double consonants in this word, but that the suffix is -ence, not -ance. No reason, just the English language keeping us on our toes.


  • pastime - Since a pastime is something you do to pass the time, you would expect a double [s] here. Well, there is only one. The second [s] was slipped through the cracks in English orthography long ago.
  • perseverance - All it takes is perseverance and you, too, can be a near-perfect speller. The suffix is -ance for no reason at all.
  • personnel - Funny Story: The assistant Vice-President of Personnel notices that his superior, the VP himself, upon arriving at his desk in the morning opens a small, locked box, smiles, and locks it back again. Some years later when he advanced to that position (inheriting the key), he came to work early one morning to be assured of privacy. Expectantly, he opened the box. In it was a single piece of paper which said: "Two Ns, one L."
  • playwright - Those who play right are right-players, not playwrights. Well, since they write plays, they should be "play-writes," wright right?Rong Wrong. Remember that a play writer in Old English was called a "play worker" and "wright" is from an old form of "work" (wrought iron, etc.)
  • possession - Possession possesses more [s]s than a snake.
  • precede - What follows, succeeds, so what goes before should, what? No, no, no, you are using logic. Nothing confuses English spelling more than common sense. "Succeed" but "precede." Precede combines the Latin words "pre" and "cedere" which means to go before.
  • principal/principle - The spelling principle to remember here is that the school principal is a prince and a pal (despite appearances)--and the same applies to anything of foremost importance, such as a principal principle. A "principle" is a rule. (Thank you, Meghan Cope, for help on this one.)
  • privilege - According to the pronunciation (not "pronounciation"!) of this word, that middle vowel could be anything. Remember: two [i]s + two [e]s in that order.
  • pronunciation - Nouns often differ from the verbs they are derived from. This is one of those. In this case, the pronunciation is different, too, an important clue.
  • publicly - Let me publicly declare the rule(again): if the adverb comes from an adjective ending on -al, you include that ending in the adverb; if not, as here, you don't.


  • questionnaire - The French doing it to us again. Double up on the [n]s in this word and don't forget the silent [e]. Maybe someday we will spell it the English way.


  • receive/receipt - I hope you have received the message by now: [i] before [e] except after . . . .
  • recommend - I would recommend you think of this word as the equivalent of commending all over again: re+commend. That would be recommendable.
  • referred - Final consonants are often doubled before suffixes (remit: remitted, remitting). However, this rule applies only to accented syllables ending on [l] and [r], e.g. "rebelled," "referred" but "traveled," "buffered" and not containing a diphthong, e.g. "prevailed," "coiled."
  • reference - Refer to the last mentioned word and also remember to add -ence to the end for the noun.
  • relevant - The relevant factor here is that the word is not "revelant," "revelent," or even "relevent." [l] before [v] and the suffix -ant.
  • restaurant - 'Ey, you! Remember, these two words when you spell "restaurant." They are in the middle of it.
  • rhyme - Actually, "rime" was the correct spelling until 1650. After that, egg-heads began spelling it like "rhythm." Why? No rhyme nor reason other than to make it look like "rhythm."
  • rhythm - This one was borrowed from Greek (and conveniently never returned) so it is spelled the way we spell words borrowed from Greek and conveniently never returned.


  • schedule - If perfecting your spelling is on your schedule, remember the [sk] is spelled as in "school." (If you use British or Canadian pronunciation, why do you pronounce this word [shedyul] but "school," [skul]? That has always puzzled me.)
  • separate - How do you separate the [e]s from the [a]s in this word? Simple: the [e]s surround the [a]s.
  • sergeant - The [a] needed in both syllables of this word has been pushed to the back of the line. Remember that, and the fact that [e] is used in both syllables, and you can write your sergeant without fear of misspelling his rank.
  • supersede - This word supersedes all others in perversity. This is the only English word based on this stem spelled -sede. Supersede combines the Latin words "super" and "sedere" which means to sit above.


  • their/they're/there - They're all pronounced the same but spelled differently. Possessive is "their" and the contraction of "they are" is "they're." Everywhere else, it is "there."
  • threshold - This one can push you over the threshold. It looks like a compound "thresh + hold" but it isn't. Two [h]s are enough.
  • twelfth - Even if you omit the [f] in your pronunciation of this word (which you shouldn't do), it is retained in the spelling.
  • tyranny - If you are still resisting the tyranny of English orthography at this point, you must face the problem of [y] inside this word, where it shouldn't be. The guy is a "tyrant" and his problem is "tyranny." (Don't forget to double up on the [n]s, too.)


  • until - I will never stop harping on this until this word is spelled with an extra [l] for the last time!


  • vacuum - If your head is not a vacuum, remember that the silent [e] on this one married the [u] and joined him inside the word where they are living happily ever since. Well, the evidence is suggestive but not conclusive. Anyway, spell this word with two [u]s and not like "volume."

 - Whether you like the weather or not, you have to write the [a] after the [e] when you spell it.

  • weird - It is weird having to repeat this rule so many times: [i] before [e] except after...? (It isn't [w]!)