Beneath the Surface of Words What English Spelling Reveals & Why It Matters


English spelling has an undeserved reputation as unreliable and riddled with frustrating quirks. In the pages of this book, you’ll find stories, examples, and explanations that will reorient your perspective and reveal the integrated system that makes sense of the spelling of English words.

This book will answer questions like these:

– Why is there a W in answer and an L in talk?

– What’s going on with words like move and comfortable?

– Why isn’t hasten spelled like basin or mason?

These spellings make sense once we are aware of all that’s conveyed by a written word—information about so much more than just its pronunciation. This book will introduce the structural (morphological) framework that is present in every English word, reveal the signals of relationships that are embedded in our most interesting spellings, and provide enlightening evidence to support a reevaluation of some traditional spelling rules.

The compelling explanations of English spelling contained in this book allow all of us to understand and reconstruct many spellings, rather than memorizing them, while expanding vocabulary and deepening reading comprehension. This is particularly important for those with dyslexia.

Set aside what you know about spelling for the moment, and take a journey below the surface of words. Together, we’ll uncover the surprising coherence, depth, and clarity of the English writing system.


By Sue Scibetta Hegland
ISBN 9780578326719
Sue Scibetta Hegland is an educator and frequent speaker on topics related to spelling. She began her career doing research and instructional design, but her focus shifted in 2003, when she learned that one of her children is dyslexic. Trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach to literacy instruction, she has been studying and teaching about orthographic linguistics since 2014. Sue has served on the Board of Directors for the Upper Midwest Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, on the Board of Education for the Brandon Valley School District, and as Editor-in-Chief for the International Dyslexia Association’s Fact Sheet publications. She is also the founder of the website