This week was "work on consonants week", so we went over the 24 consonant sounds of Standard American English. It led to some interesting discussions.
We talked about how words change pronunciation over time. It started with the pronunciation of the word "handkerchief". In particular, the fact that we don't pronounce the "d", and that the third syllable isn't always pronounced with a long e sound.
I pointed out that when this word was created, it was a compound noun: two words slammed together: hand" and "kerchief". The /d/ sound was dropped. I gave another example: I asked my students to spell the word "cupboard". One did, but the rest spelled "cubbard" or some variation. Again, I said, this was originally a compound: it was a board where you stored dishes, therefore "cupboard."
After that, we talked about how words change in meaning. I used the example "friend". When I was a child (back in the Stone Age, when computers were the size of rooms and you entered data on them with punchcards), "friend" was a noun and a noun only. Now, of course, its a verb, too. That's a meaning shift.
Then, one of my students pointed out that he "fedexes" things all the time.
So, I wrote FedEx, Xerox, Kleenex, and Clorox on the board, and we talked about how these brand names have now become nouns representing the product: lots of people use "kleenex" in place of tissues, for example, and FedEx and Xerox have become verbs.
Then we went back to sound discrimination work.