1. Sometimes twinning can cause [m] to be spelled <mm>: swimming = swim + m + ing. When the prefixes in- or sub- assimilate in front of a stem that starts with an <m>, they cause an <mm>: immigrant = in + m + migrant and summon = sub + m + mon. When any element that ends with <m> joins another element that starts with <m>, they cause an <mm> through simple addition: rommate = room + mate
2. All of the following words contain an <mm> that is caused by one of the three things listed above. Analyze each word to show where the two <m>'s come from. Then in the “Cause” column write the cause for the <mm> in each word — either “Twinning,” “Assimilation,” or “Simple Addition.”
swim + m + ing
in + m + migrant
room + mate
in + mediate
brim + m + ing
gum + m + y
in + m + mensely
dim + m + est
ad + n + nex
in + m + mortal
slam + m + ed
sub + m + mon
ad + n + nounce
in + m + mune
3. Words like the twelve below have <mm> spellings that are not due to twinning or assimilation or simple addition. In each word, label the vowel right in front of the <mm> with a ‘v’. Then label the <mm> ‘CC’, as we have done with comma:
4. What pattern did you find in all the words? VCC. Is the vowel in front of the <mm> always short? Yes
In cases where the [m] sound has a short vowel right in front of it and another vowel following it, the <mm> is necessary to fill out the VCC pattern that shows that the vowel in front of the [m] is short. For instance, if comma were spelled <coma>, it would look as if the <o> is long, as it is in the word coma.
5. So far you have worked with two spellings of [m]. They are <m> and <mm>.
Almost ninety-nine times out of a hundred the sound [m] will be spelled one of these two ways!
1. Knowing when to pick <m> and when <mm> to spell [m] is quite straightforward, since <mm> occurs pretty much only in the settings described in this lesson – that is, due to twinning, assimilation, or the simple addition of a first element that ends with <m> to a second element that starts with one, or to the general pressure of the VCC pattern. The holdouts to this generalization are few and not important at the level at which we are working here. For the record, though, there are some cases of [m] being spelled <m> in VCV strings with a short head vowel, as in words like cemetery, nominate, and omelet. These are instances of the Third Vowel Rule, which states, briefly, that the third vowel from the end of the word, if it is stressed, will be short regardless of whether it is in a VCV or VCC string. The students will study the Third Vowel Rule in Book Eight,Lessons 11-12. It is discussed in AES in pages 131-41. Other cases of [m] being spelled <m> in VCV strings with a short head vowel occur in words like lemon, camel, and damage, which are instances of what in Book Eight, Lessons 13-14 is called the French Lemon Rule. The French Lemon Rule says, briefly, that two-syllable words borrowed from French, like lemon, will often have a short vowel at the head of a VCV string. The French Lemon Rule (or more technically, the Stress Frontshift Rule) is discussed in AES in pages 127-130.
For now I would not recommend raising these complications to the students. It is most important that they know and master, and gain some confidence in, the general rules before looking more closely at the more specific and local subrules that can suspend rules that are larger and more general. If they should point out counter examples to the conclusions in this lesson, such as lemon or cemetery , don't refer to such words as exceptions. Congratulate the student, since to be able to find a good counter example is a sure sign that one has mastered a rule. Then tell them, truthfully, that such words are instances of smaller rules that can overrule bigger rules and that they will study these smaller rules later in the program. So these holdouts to the larger rules are not truly exceptions, if by exceptions we mean words that don't fit any rule; they are instances of a smaller subrule. It is important that the youngsters develop confidence that their spelling system, though complicated, is not unruly, so I would encourage you not to be too quick to label any seeming holdout as an exception
2. Items 1 and 2: You may understandably question the claim that in words like roommate and teammate there is a single [m] sound being spelled <mm>. Dictionaries show such words with two [m] sounds separated by a syllable boundary. And certainly in careful speech that is how we pronounce them: [te¯m-ma¯t] and [ru¯m-ma¯t], which would not be instances of [m] spelled <mm>, but rather two consecutive instances of [m] spelled <m>. However, in relaxed, conversational speech teammate and roommate are probably most often pronounced something like [te¯-ma¯t] and [ru¯-ma¯t], <mm> spelling [m].
3. A word in which an <mm> spelling often gets overlooked is accommodate, which contains two prefixes (ad- assimilated to <ac>, and com-): ad + c + com + mode + ate. The problem comes at the boundary between the prefix com- and the base mode: Simple addition calls for two <m>’s, one for the com- and one for the mode.