Friday, February 1, 2019

U vs. I

Teachers are always on the move to make spelling lessons interesting and engaging. One recent piece of advice is to stop teaching the “i before e except after c” convention because it’s confusing. In short, there are so many exceptions that it isn’t really a rule. While other spelling conventions are useful, this rule has to go.

Not everyone agrees with the advice. Some people point out that the phrase does enable teachers to start a discussion about the peculiarities of the English language. But many others think the rule needs to be ditched.

Spelling conventions are a useful way to approach today's second reading. In fact, that chapter could be thought of as the answer to the question “How do you spell love?” The apostle Paul gives several rules for spelling it:

• Love is patient.

• Love is kind.

• Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.

• Love does not insist on its own way.

• Love is not irritable or resentful.

• Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth.

• Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Paul’s rules are far more poetic than the sing-songy chant of “i before e except after c,” but clearly, in spelling love, I doesn’t come before anything. When you love someone, U always comes before I.