Saturday, January 31, 2009

And I am kind when Chloe is crying

My five-year-old daughter is making her way with the written word.

Her excellent public school teacher in the Parkway District has been showing her how to sound out words and approximate their spellings phonetically - with pretty good results.

Yesterday we waited about an hour in a post office for a passport (that we weren't even able to get, in the end). I spent my time reading Thomas Nashe. Leyla spent her time writing.

She stood at the island counter, using the post office's ink pen on the little chain - you know, so no one can walk away with it. This was her first effort:

I ma kend wn I Ld
Jessica to hr sr.
and I ma kend
wn Chloe is crn I
Ic wt is The mtr
Chloe Jessica mte
my Fln.
I kind of get the picture, but I wanted to hear the author's own reading of her work. This is her reading - her translation:

I am kind when I lead
Jessica to her sister
and I am kind
when Chloe is crying. I
ask, "What is the matter,
Chloe?" "Jessica hurt
my feelings."

I like the use of dialogue - fairly sophisticated! But here is my favorite line:

and I ma kend
wn Chloe is crn.

It really looks like Middle English, like Chaucerian English, when the language was on the move from archaic to modern, unstable and unpredictable.

Or like Renaissance English - like Thomas Nashe's language, or Shakespeare's, when the language had gone positively spastic, as had the printing industry, with printer's errors so rife that trying to scan a line could become a game of pin the vowel on the donkey.

It makes the emotion somehow more plangent, when you need to find it lurking in ruins of words like "wn Chloe is crn".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My daughter, now 29 with a two year old. learned phonetic spelling and picked it up at 3 she was reading. At 5 she was reading unabridged Mark Twain. Phonetics is the only way to go. Most public schools teach by rote or memory. I am glad to see your daughter's teacher using this method of teaching and you will be amazed at how it all starts clicking together. She will soon start sounding out the worlds she sees in her world and the vowels will come naturally.