English Hieroglyphics are fun and easy to read

Oct 4, 2013 by

Bruce Deitrick Price – Hey, wait a minute, you’re thinking. There’s no such thing as English hieroglyphics. There are Egyptian hieroglyphics, Sumerian hieroglyphics, maybe some others. But English? No way.
Yeah, you know that. But does a six-year-old kid know that? Not hardly.
You know what this means? The school system can pull a fast one. Teachers point to a word-– “house” -– and say, “This design is pronounced ‘house.’ Memorize it.”
Presto, that English phonetic word is now English hieroglyphics, simply by saying it is. That’s what American public schools did circa 1930; they changed all English phonetic words into English hieroglyphics. It was so easy. What do first graders know?  They’ve got VICTIM written all over them.

If children learn the alphabet, they are memorizing the shapes of  individual letters. But a single letter is not so great a challenge; plus, there are only 26 of them.
But what about five of these easy shapes stuck together to make a much more complicated shape like “house”? Or, worse still, something like “business.”  What about this complex shape makes you think of business activity? Basically, that’s how you learn hieroglyphics, one at a time, with as many memory aids as possible.
If you don’t happen to have a photographic memory, you will have to be clever and creative with your mnemonic tricks. Let’s say the word is “face.” Both the “a” and the “e” have a closed shape that could very well be eyes. That’s how you do it.
The problem with hieroglyphics is that each design is hard work and takes up lots of memory. Even very smart people have trouble memorizing 2000 hieroglyphics with instant recall. More ordinary memories might have trouble going past 200 hieroglyphics.
Treating English word as hieroglyphics has few benefits and many obvious limitations. The English language is huge. College graduates routinely know more than 100,000 English words. Nobody knows 100,000 hieroglyphics. Furthermore, having memorized “face,” would you be able to read FACE? The eyes, where are the eyes?
 Historically speaking, it was as though a strange and deadly virus struck our Education Establishment around 1930. They insisted-–absolutely, hysterically insisted–that memorizing English words as hieroglyphics was the best way to go. In fact, it’s the worst way.
English hieroglyphics, that’s what most little children studied and memorized across the United States for a long time. This method never made any sense. It caused huge damage. It’s the reason we have 50 million functional illiterates.

Virtually all readers of English hieroglyphics are damaged readers. Their eyes tend to flit randomly over the complex designs. Instead of relentless left-to-right movements, their eyes zigzag and jump backwards. Soon these readers are diagnosed as dyslexic. They are said to have ADHD; and must be given Ritalin.
 No, what they need to be given is a lesson in phonics. They memorize the letter names. They learn the sounds (i.e., the phonics) represented by the letters. They learn the blends of these sounds. When children can combine two or more sounds into one sound, they are reading!
 That’s how it works. That’s how simple it is, in every phonetic language all around the world. Once you know the letters and the sounds, there is no limit to the number of words you can read. That’s why English can have 1 million words, some of them long and bizarre like “ibuprofen” and “verisimilitude,” but readers have no trouble.
Conversely, children trying to memorize English as hieroglyphics might stumble over “See Dick and Jane.” They might stumble over “house.” After all, when you think of it as a design, house looks a lot like louse hoist, horse, dowse, souse, mouse, host, hoses, worse, hurts, etc. Really, that is the primary problem with English hieroglyphics. Every one of them resembles 50 others. A kid could get dyslexia, never learn to read, drop out of school, and end up stealing a car belonging to a literacy professor. Well, at least that would be poetic justice.
ARTICLE: “Sight Words–The Big Stupid”
VIDEO: “Reading is Easy.”
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