Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Adventures in Sixth Grade English

The first thing I ever heard in Sixth Grade English—or was it Third Grade English?—was “…i before e, except after c.” You heard it, too, didn’t you? And you heard your mother blare it at home, right?

Well, recently while I was reading another chapter in my dictionary, I noticed some words didn’t follow that goofy rule. For instance…

  • abseil
  • ageing
  • albeit
  • atheist(ism)
  • beige
  • being
  • caffeine
  • eight
  • either
  • foreign
  • forfeit
  • heifer
  • height
  • heir
  • keister
  • lei
  • leisure
  • neither
  • onomatopoeia
  • protein
  • reign
  • reinforce
  • reins
  • seize
  • seizure
  • skein
  • sleight
  • their
  • vein
  • weigh
  • weight

…and there are many, many more with hardly a “c” among them. Weird, huh?

Now look at the word “reinforce.” If you enforce that old rule more than once, you reinforce it. Why isn’t it reenforced? You never inforce anything. Something just ain’t right. There’s a conspiracy against sixth grade boys, I tell you…or is it third grade boys?

And you know what's even weirder? My Eighth Grade English teacher was Miss Wein. What a hypocrite.

“…and on his farm he had a sleigh. E-I-E-I-O…”

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