Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

Stanley Dubinsky

Abstract

This paper presents a multi-platform linguistic application, Wordify!TM, a suite of games and activities based on the structure of English words, phrases, and sounds. Unlike other available computer word and language games, which typically fixate on spelling and whole-word identification, Wordify!TM is grounded in linguistic principles and is designed to teach these to the user. It has an underlying database of root morphemes, affixes, and morphological rules; users play by combining database elements to create legitimate or novel words depending on the rules of the particular game version chosen. The application is well-suited either as an educational diversion or an educational tool and can be used productively by students beginning at the preschool and elementary level.

The Wordify!TM game screen consists of a grid of buttons, each one hosting a root word or affix. Underneath the grid of tiles is a picture that is revealed piece by piece as correct matches are made and buttons are removed from the grid. Each time a tile on the grid is clicked, the tile is moved to the holding cell at the bottom of the screen. Once a match is made the two tiles are highlighted, points are rewarded, and the matched word is added to a registry.

In addition to describing pedagogical uses, this paper includes the linguistic background for the application and its evolution into an implemented software package. Presented is the process by which the game was designed to meet pedagogical purposes despite the linguistic complexities of English. As one quickly discerns, in trying to develop a linguistically-based application, the determinism of the program implementing the game differs strongly from the indeterminate properties of the morphology of the English language.

This requires balance and compromise to create an application that both works and meets pedagogical goals. Our game is about morphology and not spelling and appropriately ignores these differences.

Finally, future possibilities of this platform are also addressed. One of the possibilities involves venturing into phonology, which will be shown in another version of the game called WordBits. Other possibilities involve the areas of second language acquisition and SAT/GRE preparation.

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