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!
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