Archive for September, 2012


About six months ago, a friend from high school sent me a message telling me about an opportunity to create a video lesson on any subject. TED, of the well-known TED talks, was opening up a new venture called TED-Ed, inviting teachers to submit lesson ideas or others to nominate them. I followed through and submitted a lesson idea about the spelling of <one> and <two> — the word one has a /w/ sound but no letter <w>, and the word two has a letter <w> but no /w/, so, you know, that’s fun to look at.

I got an email from Jordan Reeves from TED within a few days, and a phone call a couple days later. Turns out that I had more nominations than anyone else (20-some out of 400ish). “But it’s not a popularity contest,” said Jordan on the phone. “We’re really intellectually invested in your idea.” As we talked, he remarked a couple of times about how spelling is really not something he’d ever thought about before, really not something people think about much.


I wrote a script, edited it with a sharp young editor named Rose Eveleth, cutting it about in half, and let a couple of friends read it along the way. Once it was finalized, the TED folks sent me recording equipment, and I uploaded a couple of sound files, and they paired me up with animator David Bernal. David found his own story in my words, and brought it to life. He was stellar to work with. I saw an animated storyboard first, which I loved, and then this live-action video, which I also love.

I’m really happy to share it with you here. Please share it with others!


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Etymology has been roundly misapprehended in language pedagogy and beyond, and it’s time for some linguistic clarity to inform our discussions in study and teaching. Doug Harper, the brain behind The Online Etymology Dictionary, has graciously agreed to team up with LEX to offer a weekend seminar on the history of English, English etymology and the making of an etymologist.

Dates: Saturday ~ Sunday, March 23~24, 2013

Location: Delaware Valley Friends School, Paoli, PA

Mark your calendar and plan to join us!

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