This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Nuts and Bolts: miscue analysis.

Can you read?

Well, there's a question with only one answer: isn't it?

Well, no, actually. I mean, just think how often you read something and imagine it says something else. The other day I was reading about the word parapet and I thought the dictionary said that parapets were erected in military situations by making a pile of earth or handbags.

It's a lovely image, but sadly it actually said sandbags.

Children misread things all the time while they're still inexperienced at working out what all the squiggles mean. I'll always remember a nephew reading out a joke involving a politician called the Prime Monster.

Well, out of the mouths of babes...

Anyway, some time ago Ken Goodman, now Professor Emeritus, Language Reading and Culture, at the University of Arizona, came up with the idea of miscue analysis. That basically involves looking at the reasons why people read things wrongly (these occasions are called miscues rather than mistakes to avoid upsetting people).

For instance, if a child sees a sentence that begins Look at the - and he says teddy when the word written down is bear, then you know he's got his cue from the illustration, and not the text.

Miscue analysis tells you something about the reading process, but also about the thought-processes and experience of the reader.

I mean, whenever I read about some authority bringing out a draft proposal I always read it as daft proposal. I do this every single time.

Mind you, as often as not I'm right.

Nuts and Bolts: miscue analysis. The word cue probably comes from the name of the letter q, which was used in actors' scripts to stand for the Latin quando, when.

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