Elements and Procedures
Student's Edition of Chapter 1
Elements and Analysis
Analysis. If you are going to learn how to spell words, it helps to understand how words work—what their important parts are and how those parts work together. When you take something apart, or just think about it in terms of its parts, so that you can begin to understand it better, you analyze it. Words can be analyzed, or taken apart, in many different ways. For instance, when you think about it as something spoken, the word sixteenth can be analyzed into eight sounds:
Or it can be analyzed into two larger sound units that each contain one vowel sound and are called syllables:
But when you think about sixteenth as something written, it can be analyzed into nine letters:
Elements. Or the written word sixteenth can be analyzed into three elements — that is, written parts that have a consistent spelling and meaning in different words:
Elements are the shortest parts of written words that add meaning to their word. The elements of a word show up in other written words with a meaning and a spelling that remain consistent. For instance, six shows up in sixty and sixes, +teen in eighteen and nineteen, -th in seventh and hundredth — and even in a newer word like nth.
Very often elements are exactly one syllable long — as with six and teen, so elements and syllables often share the same boundaries. Because many elements are exactly one syllable long and they do so often share boundaries in a word, it is tempting to assume that an analysis into elements is the same as an analysis into syllables. But the two analyses are not the same: Syllables are parts of spoken words while elements are parts of written words. And when we analyze a word into syllables, we do not worry about analyzing its meaning. But we do worry about the word's meaning when we analyze it into elements.
Not all elements are exactly one syllable long. For instance, an element like -th in sixteenth does not contain a vowel sound, so it is less than a syllable. On the other hand, some elements, like mother, father, brother, and sister, are more than one syllable long:
Look up the definitions of fatherhood, brotherhood, sisterhood, and motherhood in your dictionary. Write the definitions here:
Compare the definitions. What meaning would you say the element -hood has in these four words?
Now look up the element -hood in your dictionary to see how well you did. It will be spelled <-hood> and will probably be right in between the words hood and hooded.
In Array 1 you are given 25 elements. Most of them are also words. You are to sort them into the four groups described in the array. If you do it correctly, all of the unshaded blanks should be filled.
The puzzle on the next page is a flow chart. Each time you pass through it from top to bottom, you combine elements to form a word. With this particular chart you should be able to make thirteen passes down through it to form thirteen different words. The elements are contained in the boxes with square corners. The boxes with rounded corners contain logical conditions that you must satisfy if you are to move ahead. For instance, in this chart the conditioner labeled "Only with father or mother" means that you can only continue down that branch if on this pass you have already been through one of the boxes containing either father or mother. The conditioner labeled "Not ever with father" means that you cannot continue down that branch if you have already been through the father box.
The general rule is that you can move left or right or down, but you can never move up the page. As you complete your passes, write the words you have formed in the blanks below the chart:
Elements are strings of letters that have a consistent meaning or spelling from word to word. Look at the boldfaced strings of letters in these sentences:
Maybe Mrs. O'Riley will cook her famous stew Wednesday night. She cooks it at least once every week. She cooked it when I stayed with them two years ago. She has been cooking it for over forty years. She is what I'd call "a classy stew cooker."
The repeated spelling <cook> shows up in five words: cook, cooks, cooked, cooking, and cooker. And in all of these words the <cook> spelling has a consistent meaning. It has a consistent meaning and a consistent spelling, and it cannot be analyzed into shorter meaning-parts, so cook is an element.
Cook is a single element because it cannot be analyzed into shorter elements. It cannot be divided into elements that go together to spell and mean what the word cook means the way that motherhood can be divided into the elements mother and -hood that go together to spell and mean what the word motherhood means.
Of course, the string of letters that spells the element cook can be taken apart in various ways. For instance, it could be taken apart into <co> plus <ok>. Or into <coo> plus <k>, or even into <c> plus <ook>. And these six spellings all are defined in Webster's Third Unabridged Dictionary:
c: "the 3rd letter of the alphabet"; a common abbreviation
co-: "with, together, joint, jointly, shared, mutually"
coo: "to make the low soft cry of a dove or pigeon"
k: "the 11th letter of the alphabet"; a common abbreviation
ok: "all right, yes"
ook: (Scottish) "week" (also ouk)
Although all six of these spellings can be found in the word cook, none of them is an element in it. Although each of the six spellings has a meaning, no combination of these six meanings can go together to mean anything even close to the meaning of the word cook.
So to take cook apart into any of these six parts would not help us understand it better. It would not be an analysis of the word. Since it cannot be analyzed any further into shorter elements, the word cook is a single element. It is both a word and an element. (And it is one syllable long.)
Look up the following elements in your dictionary: moth, broth, -er. Then be ready to discuss this question: We can divide the word mother into the spellings <moth> and <er>, and we can divide brother into <broth> and <er>. Both moth and broth are words, and -er is a suffix, so all three are elements. But are the spellings <moth>, <broth>, and <er> elements of the words mother and brother? How do you know?
Summing Up. Write good clear definitions for each of the following terms, based on what you have learned so far. Include an example in each of your definitions: