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ďYĒ As A Vowel

by Gary Grammar

In this issue, we will discuss one of the great mysteries of the Universe to all of us -- when is the letter "y" used as a vowel?

Iím sure you remember memorizing the vowels in early grade school -- a, e, i, o, u, sometimes y and w. But most of us adults donít possess a clue as to the vowelic workings of "y."

First, let me say that a rule for identifying vowels is to identify the number of syllables in a word. When you say a word and count its syllables, you are also counting its vowels. For instance, the word "oxygen." It has three syllables, "ox-y-gen." It also has three vowels -- short "o", "y" and short "e." It all becomes clear, suddenly, doesnít it?

The other occasions when "y" acts as a vowel are when it possesses the sound of a long "i" or long "e" in words such as "family," "envy," "rhyme" and "my."

As to "w" functioning as a vowel, I havenít found examples which satisfy me yet. Every word I can think of has "w" combined with a standard vowel sound such as "aw," (jaw) "wa" (way), etc. According to one source I referred to, consonants are letters which stop, divert or occlude air from the lungs. If the fact that "w" does none of these makes it a vowel, then I would think that "r" should be a vowel as well. I pronounce my "r" with a Chicago pronunciation, which stops very little air. I am certain that a Bostonian or New York accent stops no air, being pronounced as a very broad "ah" sound. Another mystery at hand! I will continue my search and give you a full report when I learn an answer.

__________

"Are You Qualified?"

Back in Volume 4, Issue 2, I wrote of the brouhaha that occurred in Massachusetts in 1998 when 56 percent of prospective teachers failed the reading and writing portions of an exam, some of which a nine-year-old would be expected to pass. The "56ers" could not define nouns or verbs and could not write in complete sentences, for example. I was writing from the viewpoint that parents are definitely qualified to teacher their own children, when prospective "teaching professionals" are so dismally prepared. To further "prove" this point, I wish to add new observations.

The National Educators Association (NEA) states in its Resolutions that homeschool teachers should be certified and qualified by NEA authority. I am here to remind anyone reading this column that this is the same "authority" which has produced the abyssmal public school teacher performance and lack of true qualification. The bodies that are given power and responsibility for certifying and qualifying public school teachers are for the most part, dismal failures.

As a comparison, no one seriously thinks that the Department of Motor Vehicles actually tests driving skill, in the behind-the-wheel test, correct? Of course not! The driving "test" is simply another farce of government. I have never taken a behind-the-wheel test which took me onto a freeway or interstate where the majority of atrocious driving takes place! The test has always taken place in a quiet, residential area where a minimum of driving skill was required (lucky for me!). A teaching certificate is no more an indicator of proven skill than a driverís license.

I believe that unions should be allowed to protect their domains. For instance, I can understand how the paintersí union feels it should have the right to tell me that if I want to hire a painter to paint my house, he should be a union painter. Theoretically, this maintains high standards and allows for the trade to police itself. However, if I wish to paint my house myself, the union should not have the right to prevent me from doing so. By the same token, if I choose to have my children taught by outside teachers, possibly such teachers should be members of the teachersí union; as long as I choose to teach my children myself, that union has no business interfering with me and my family. That seems quite "American clear" to me. GG

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