Number of Sounds Per Phonogram

Why does The Logic of English® have a different number of sounds for some of the phonograms when compared to other Orton-based programs?

What research methods were used to make these decisions?

The changes in sounds are based upon word frequency analysis using The ABCs and All Their Tricks by Margaret Bishop and internet sites such as Using tools such as these, Denise searched for phonograms and created comprehensive lists of words using each phonogram. These lists were then analyzed and organized by base words.

This is important and new research. An individual base word can be used to form twenty or more derivatives. What Denise discovered by sorting the words by base words is that many phonograms are used only in a very limited number of root words. Once students know the rules for adding suffixes and prefixes to English words, knowing the spelling of the base word is all that is needed to correctly spell its derivatives.

During this research, Denise discovered that seven of the phonogram sounds did not accurately represent the base word lists. These are: ei, eigh, ey, i, oe, oo, ough, u, y.

To help understand the process, consider the phonogram ough. The table below contains all the commonly used base words that use the phonogram. The true order of frequency is very different than what is often taught.

bought       although     through   bough       enough    cough
thought      dough                        drought    rough       trough
nought       borough                     plough
ought         furlough
fought        thorough

For detailed information on the changes made to each phonogram see Appendix C in Uncovering the Logic of English. Appendix C contains comprehensive word lists for phonogram sounds that occur fewer than 20 times. Phonograms that are used in such limited words should be taught as a group in order to eliminate possible confusion about when they are used for spelling.