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The Four Main Streams that make up the English language

The Latin Stream is the most important as it provides 87% of syllables. Each syllable contains a vowel and the understanding of the five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) in both their short and long forms, plus the use of y instead of i in some words, is therefore of major importance.

Chart 1 and Chart 2 deal with this stream. They provide word attack skills that enable the ready recognition of words such as continental and statement that are no more difficult than hop and hope. They are merely longer.


The Old English Stream Historically, the basics words of life spoken by Anglo-Saxons in 1066 when William the Conqueror invaded were recorded by the scholars as they sounded. Down the centuries many of the letters are no longer pronounced except in a few small areas across Britain - e.g. ear, die, night, boat, knife, apostle.

These words appear frequently in early reading books and as a result are often remembered because they have been seen so often. By contrast, less common Latin words such as came and stopped may not be recognised.


The small Greek Stream contains words in which ch = k, ph = f and y = i. Most of them are associated with science or music - e.g. hydrogen, orchestra, chlorophyll. Identification of the vowels in these words is a simple matter once the message from the Donkey Chart has been mastered.


The small contribution from the French includes military words (colonel, manoeuvre), words from the kitchen (cuisine, entree) and from fashion (boutique, bouquet). Words such as debris, depot and quay retain their French pronounciation but the suffix tion, also from the French as in nation, does not.

This website presented by
the family of educational psychologist
Judith Gleeson
B.A., M.Ed, T.C.
duffy remedial reading
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