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 Noah Webster

47. Noah Webster

    As a young adult, Noah Webster was a teacher At this time the colonies were fighting for independence from Britain. Yet the books that American children used in school all came from Britain. The books were all about British people and British places. Webster wanted books that would mean more to American children. So he wrote three books that used American examples--a grammar book, a spelling book, and a reader. These books were very popular, and millions of them were sold.

    Webster was interested in changing the spellings of words. He wanted words to be spelled the way they were pronounced. For example, he thought the word head should be spelled "hed," and the word laugh should be spelled "laf." People liked Webster's suggestions. Unfortunately, though, few words were changed. One group of words that were changed were words in which an unpronounced u followed an o. That is why Americans write color and labor, and the British write colour and labour.

    With the money he made from his books, Webster was able to start on his great work. This work took more than twenty years to write. It was the first American English dictionary, published in 1828. Webster's dictionary had over 70,000 words, and gave the meaning and origin of each. To this day, Webster's work is the example that most dictionaries of American English follow.

 

QUESTIONS

1. What profession did Webster have when he was young?
a. A teacher
b. A doctor
c. A scientist

2. Where did children in American schools get their books from?
a. From France
b. Those were American books.
c. From Britain

3. Why did Webster write his first three books?
a. He wanted to become famous.
b. He wanted to make something more for American people.
c. He wanted to become rich.

4. What was Webster’s idea about American English?
a. He wanted to change the letter u.
b. He wanted to change some pronunciation rules.
c. He wanted to make spelling easier.

5. Which words can show a result of Webster’s work?
a. Color, labor
b. Head, laugh
c. Spelling, pronunciation

6. How long had Webster been writing a dictionary?
a. 1 year
b. 20 years
c. 35 years

7. What is the synonym for the word ‘labor’ (paragraph 2)?
a. Opinion
b. Thought
c. Way
d. Work

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