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16.23: Review of VCV Shortening Rules

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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1. The Suffix -ity Rule. The vowel right in front of the suffix -ity will always be (stressed and) short, even at the first vowel of a VCV string.

2. The Third Vowel Rule. The third vowel sound from the end of a word will often be short if it is stressed, even if it is the first vowel in a VCV string.

3. French Lemon Rule. Words that have two vowel sounds and were borrowed from French will have a short first vowel, even in a VCV string.

4. Some of the words below are instances of the three rules above. Sort them into the table:

\begin{align*}& \text{electricity} && \text{moment} && \text{society} && \text{rationality} \\ & \text{equality} && \text{chocolate} && \text{ferocity} && \text{hesitate} \\ & \text{educate} && \text{gravel} && \text{citizen} && \text{analysis} \\ & \text{assiduous} && \text{recent} && \text{positive} && \text{definite} \\ & \text{physics} && \text{balance} && \text{stomach} && \text{personality} \\ & \text{anxiety} && \text{susceptibility} && \text{agent} && \text{legend} \\ & \text{precious} && \text{simplicity} && \text{dozen} && \text{focus} \end{align*}

Words that are instances of...
The Suffix -ity Rule The Third Vowel Rule The French Lemon Rule
electricity educate physics
equality assiduous precious
susceptibility chocolate gravel
simplicity citizen balance
ferocity positive stomach
rationality analysis legend

5. Be ready to discuss this question: What were your reasons for excluding each of the six words that you did not write into the table?

Teaching Notes.

Item 5. Four of the six words have long vowels in VCV strings (moment, recent, agent, focus); two have long vowels in V.V strings (anxiety, society). Four came directly from Latin and not through French (anxiety, recent, agent, focus). Linguists are not certain about the other two, moment and society, which could have come from French, possibly Latin, and possibly both. The source of the French Lemon Rule argues for a Latin source to the modern spellings and pronunciations.

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Jul 07, 2015
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