Saturday, March 15, 2014

Owls and Oranges and a Week Into Daylight Savings

As a teacher of reading, I'm well versed in the rules of phonics and more specifically (for this story) syllabication.  At least I thought so until a few years back while training a student teacher.  While she taught a lesson, somehow the number of syllables for the word "orange" came up, and she had the class clap it out.  Beyond teaching the syllabication rules, we also show the kids what syllables are by comparing them to the number of beats in a word.  For example the word "book" is one syllable or beat and therefore we clap once, but the word "fantastic" has 3 syllables so we clap 3 times.  So while clapping out the word "orange", my student teacher clapped two times.  I had been observing her as part of her coursework and was documenting the lesson when that struck me as strange.  I mentally clapped out "orange" in my head and two sounded wrong.  So on a piece of scratch paper I divided the syllables using the phonics rules and did, in fact, come up with two syllables "or-ange".  The thing is, I don't say it with two syllables.  I say it in one syllable, leaving out the "a" completely - "ornj".   When I lived on the East Coast my favorite word to hear them say was "orange" because they pronounce it "ah-ranj".   I found it so funny that they made orange into two syllables.  Ha!  Well, after that lesson, I realized I was the minority.   At lunch that afternoon, I shared this syllable a-ha with my work colleagues and, although there were a few who agreed with my pronunciation, most say it in two beats, "or-ange".  I can admit when I am wrong, and we had a good laugh over it albeit I was made the butt of some syllable jokes for the next few years.

Those jokes have since subsided until I was made aware of another syllable deficiency I've been carrying around for forever.  In music class this past week, the teacher was teaching the beat or rhythm of music by comparing them to syllables.  While they clapped and sang various bird names, my mind was completely blown when she clapped out "owl" AS ONE SYLLABLE!!!  "How can that be?" I wondered in my head.  "We don't say it in one syllable!"  Again, I mentally divided it using the rules.  Ashamed that I should have known better...there's only one vowel for goodness sakes...I still can't say it in one syllable.  "Owl" has two beats when I say it, and as much as I try, one beat sounds like I'm talking about an "awl" not an "ow-wel".
How do you say "orange" and "owl"?

Speaking of owls, I think I have one nesting in the tree outside my bedroom window.  It turned hot again this past week, so I've been opening up the window at night to cool things down.  On Wednesday night I heard it.  At first I thought it was one of our many Mourning Doves, but as I listened the sound was more a "who who" than the guttural "woo woo" of the doves.  Anyhow, we have a few who frequent the wooded/mountainy areas nearby so it wouldn't be unheard of.  However, most of those species are nocturnal hunters, so I'll probably never actually see it.

Was this past week rough for anyone else after losing that hour last Sunday?  I have been out of sorts all week - tired and kind of crabby.  My regular bed time comes and goes without me being tired, and then the alarm goes off while it's still pitch black outside.  This popped up on some site this past week.  What a good idea!


  1. Our hour doesn't shift 'til the end of the month. But it's a bit of a pest. One I really don't know why we still endure. The old excuse had to do with the farming chores, as if the cows being milked at 7 or 8:o'clock mattered a hoot to the cows.

    Film is pronounced Fi-lim here, and three and tree are indistinguishable.
    On owl, you are correct. They are in error. The word is a contraction ( see before 900; Middle English oule, Old English ūle; cognate with Low German ūle, Dutch uil; akin to German Eule, Old Norse ugla. ) so in effect has an 'e' on the end or an 'a'. This is true for most words in English sourced in Old Norse/German or Saxon.
    When the Normans invaded they brought with them many words. That's why you find two words for the same thing. Veal and Calf for instance. Beef from Boeuf instead of Fleisch or flesh. Pork not Swine or hog. But where the French sounding one has a higher position, or at least it had until lately when the regional accents.
    When you read Shakespeare aloud and don't add the space for the extra syllable it is unutterable. Not always, but if you see Spencer's Faerie Queen he has them in but you don't or can choose not to aspirate them. Those two mark the changes wrought in Oxford and Cambridge to the English language in the late years of the 16th century. The cause was the translation of the bible into English and the resulting standardization of the regional. Albeit for those wealthy enough to read.

    1. Yah, I think most people are getting a little tired of the time changes each year. The silly thing is, we have like 4 states that don't do it, so it just doesn't make a lot of sense for the rest of us.

      Interesting on the word origins. I knew it on owl!!! It's just too hard to say it in one. English is such a difficult language to teach because we have all these "rules" that in reality barely apply because there are so many exceptions to those rules. We teach kids about word origins to help them better tackle a new word vocabulary-wise. The language comes from so many origins, it's hard for some to keep them all straight.

    2. You darn pe-st. I climbed the mountain and came back down all with the Or-an-je, O-ránge, Ornj, Or-ange, Or-enge, Or-en-ge, Rr-nge, and Or-ange ploughing a furrow in my ear. Here's my tuppenceworth. I pronounce it with an extra 'r'. Or-range. Where the R is by far the most stressed letter. It was like simplifying a square-root.

    3. Ha ha ha! I know right?!?! I'm sure that is regional too. Sitting around the teacher lounge that time, we all said it a bit differently.
      I forgot to mention before, I rather enjoyed the way you all say "three" over there, and even more so "thirty-three" and "thirty-third". :)

  2. I think ornj an owwww-l are correct :)

    Time change? Hell! But not as much hell as in kinder.
    Happy Sunday!

    1. Maybe ornj is a California native pronunciation. And owl just doesn't sound right without that extra syllable.
      As for the time change...since most of this year's class acts like they're still in kinder it WAS hell this last week. Spring break can not come soon enough.

  3. lol.. you are in the minority.
    i just clapped it out.. orange and owl are both two syllable words to me.

    1. I'm with ya on owl, and with orange I see it, I just don't say it that way. :)