Word of the Day: Suppalpation

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(n); gaining affection by caressing; the act of enticing by soft words; from the Latin suppalpari (“to caress a little”)

Simply put, written English is great for puns but terrible for learning to read or write. It’s like making children from around the world complete an obstacle course to fully participate in society but requiring the English-speaking participants to wear blindfolds.

—Luba Vangelova, from “How Spelling Keeps Kids From Learning”

When I was a wide-eyed freshman, I took first-year German, despite the multiple warnings I received from friends, family, and the odd high school teacher about how “tough” the language was. But by the end of the year, I was far from overwhelmed, except for the overwhelming impression that the German language made so much more sense than English did. As Luba Vangelova notes in her Atlantic essay, English has 205 ways to spell 44 sounds, its modern day existence a strange conglomeration of different languages and arbitrary parts that takes at least 10 years to fully grasp—not an entirely enticing prospect for anyone looking to master the language. Vangelova’s essay is an interesting dive into the peculiarities of the English language and their effect on children’s cognitive development.


Sara Menuck is currently pursuing BA in English & Professional Writing at York University, Toronto, without being very professional at all. Having interned with a variety of small press publications, she currently works as a prose reader for The Winter Tangerine Review, a department editorial assistant, and, in her free time, a teacher of music to very small, adorable children. More from this author →