"On Weekends and Holidays and all Throughout May..."

One of my favorite comedians, Brian Regan, has a hilarious bit about learning to spell in grade school.  [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGFYiKNZ4XA[/youtube]

I laugh out loud every time.

"No Brian, it's I before E except after C and when sounding like A as in neighbor and way, and on weekends and holidays and all throughout May, and you'll always be wrong no matter what you say!"

"That's a hard rule.  That's a rough rule. "

"Brian, how do you make a word a plural?

"You put a S.  You put a S at the end of it."

"When?"

"Ugh...On WEEKENDS and HOLIDAYS..."

That is exactly how I feel about contracted braille. 

You guys, contracted braille is INSANE.  Here are a few excerpts in my textbook, for your entertainment.

"Do not attach additional letters to an alphabet whole-word sign.  For example, do not use the whole-word sign for can when writing the word cans." 

(Can is spelled "c," but cans  is spelled "c-a-n-s", not, "c-s."  Like is spelled "l," but likes is spelled "l-i-k-e-s," not "l-s.")  There is a whole-word sign for almost every letter in the alphabet. 

"Use the whole-word sign when the word has an apostrophe, (can't, you'll, you're). Do not use the sign for do in don't.  The apostrophe must be next to the whole word, and additional letters may not be added to alphabet word-signs."

"You use an alphabet whole-word sign for proper names, but the sign must be preceded by the capitalization sign.  For example, you use the whole-word sign for "Will you go to the store with me?"  and "My brother's name is Will." 

So far this makes sense.  But then...

"A short-form word can usually be part of a longer word if the short-form word keeps its originial meaning and spelling.  You cannot, however, add letters to proper names that are represented by short-form words."  

Okay, so whole-word signs NEVER  take prefixes, suffixes, plurals, compound words, etc.  No extra letters.  But short-form words DO when the word maintains it's meaning and spelling.  And it gets better:

"A special rule applies to these five signs: When any of these words occur one immediately after the other, do not put a space between them.  In addition, when the word a occurs in sequence with one of these words (and, for, of, the with), no space appears between them."

"These five signs can be used either as whole- or part-word contractions.  Use these signs whenever the letters they represent occur in any word, including proper names."

That last rule is THE MOST difficult for me to get the hang of so far.  Part-word contractions are always used, in every word.  So the sign for the appears in the word "another," and "Theodore."  And the sign for of  is used in "coffee," "office," "sofa." 

I mean, when I'm writing a sentence about candy, I have to stop and realize that I don't spell the word candy c-a-n-d-y, instead I write c-(and)-y.  While at the same time remembering that I can't use the word like in likes.  I have to spell the whole thing out!  Bottom line: some contractions can't be added onto, some can be added onto sometimes, and some must be used at every opportunity.  And you have to memorize which is which (in addition to the contractions themselves).

Of course, there are always exceptions:

Have I lost you completely?  Yeah, me too. 

And I found this gem in lesson 5. 

"For now, be aware that the short-form words after, blind, and friend should not be used as parts of longer words when followed by a vowel (a,e,i,o, or u)."



Whew.  Quite enough. I'll end with some good news and some bad news. 

Good news:  So far I've memorized 58 contractions!  In addition to their rules and exceptions to their rules.

Bad news:  I'm on lesson five of TWENTY-SEVEN.