Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rules and stuff

How do you add 9 to something?

Husband and I were discussing this when walking George the other day. I said, 'I add 10 and take away 1.'
Husband agreed that, although he thought he just added 9, he was probably subconsciously adding 10 and taking away 1.

'Unless,' I said, 'I'm adding it to a number ending in 5 then I add 5 and 4. Or if it's to a number ending in 0 then it's easy.'

Husband patted me on the shoulder.

Later we talked about spelling. I'm a good speller except when it comes to double letters; Husband claims it was only the invention of the computer spellchecker that enabled him to progress upwards in the civil service.

On an episode of QI recently another claim was made: that the rule of i before e except after c is broken more often than it is abided by. Twenty-one times more in fact. Stephen Fry showed some examples such as species and glacier and being and weird. I could just about get that the first two were breaking the rule but the last two just threw me - as they did the members of the QI team, in particular Lee Mack. 'But there's no c!'

As I explained to Husband, - who naturally understood Mr Fry's argument perfectly - for me, the rule is about the c not about the i and the e. But it seems even then, as illustrated, it can't be trusted. And if you can't trust i before e except after c what can you rely on?

It's a very funny clip if you haven't seen it. Or even if you have.

9 comments:

katney said...

I have a solution. Just pronounce it "ay" as in neighbor and weigh. (or neighbour and weigh).

Furtheron said...

I watched that QI some time ago - I was as frustrated as Mr Fry. Maybe being a programmer in a past life that logical brain part of me is done to death.

i before e except after c... It is not about the C at all. i before e in all cases unless there is a C then e before i. Hence why being should be bieng ... surely? But as they pointed out this rule is not a rule.

I'm with you on the number thing. Doesn't matter how you get there as long as you get there and are normally about right. Good thing is your answer wasn't - "on a calculator" :-)

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

You confused me from the start .. :-) .. how do you add 8 to another then or any other number to another?

Ole Phat Stu said...

I, foreign atheist, forfeit neither weird height nor eider leisure, but science knows sufficient ancient species to contradict the rule! ;-)

nick said...

And of course all those adjectives like icier, lacier, racier and dicier.

Rose said...

Having graded thousands of papers over the years with atrocious spelling, I would have been thrilled if more of my students had known the "i before e" rule at all, let alone the exceptions:)

NitWit1 said...

I like a number solutions of your comments. I was senior class spelling champion in high school but years and typing have made me an idiot.

Liz said...

Are you trying to confuse me more, katney?!

It's a man thing, furtheron.

I could explain, ann, but it would only confuse you more!!

Clever clogs, stu!

You see, I can spell all those without thinking about the rule, nick.

I'm sure spelling and grammar ability depend on whether a child/person reads a lot or not, rose.

Having a spellchecker makes me a lazier typist, nitwit

CherryPie said...

I can only do i's and e's with the spell checker or a dictionary for that matter ;-)