I'd been teaching his son in reading about silent e, and how it makes vowels say their name rather than their short sound (e.g. hop vs hope, sit vs site, etc.) which is useful, since there are literally hundreds of such words in English, including a lot of very common ones.
The dirty word? "nude" ...
I loved your story, but I'm sitting here wondering what a 'nud' would be?
I take it that some words were just random words without a "no silent e" counterpart?
Of course there's the fact that for many of us, "nude" doesn't fit the silent-e-makes-vowels-say-their name "rule." I pronounce it "nood" not "newd"; (to keep it on topic) how about "rude"? Pretty much all of those "rules" are worthless in English. It would be fine if there were just a couple of exceptions but there are almost as many exceptions as examples that conform. I may be weird, but I think i-before-e is another worthless one; who needs a "rule" that has two exceptions built in and lots of counter-examples, even to the exceptions? But perhaps I should rein in my irritation and stop being so scientific about it.
As someone who teaches this sort of thing, and who has observed literally hundreds of children learn and practice such rules before picking up a book and being able to read it for the first time, let me assure you that there are several extremely
useful rules in English, where it's much
easier to learn a single rule and a dozen exceptions than to just memorise the spelling and pronunciation of several hundred otherwise easy-to-learn words. I before e is not
such a rule--it's often used as an example of English spelling rules and it's a terrible
one, because the exceptions greatly outnumber the adherents. It's out of date and isn't even taught here or in Australia any more, nor has it been for decades, because it's so useless. Actual rules like whether or not a c is soft (basically always unless it's followed by an e, i, or y) are tremendously useful, and their exceptions are terribly few and often not words a child would even know. Silent k and g is another rule we teach: if a word starts with kn/gn, then the k/g is silent. The exceptions are incredibly few, and aren't words that even the majority of adults would know.
Here, "nude" is pronounced "nyood", if that helps. And I didn't go into detail because I felt it wasn't relevant to my original post, but the magic e and u actually has two options: u can either say "yoo" or just "oo" depending on the word. There is a reason for this which is technical and irrelevant here. But of the two options, only ever one is an actual word, and the other is gibberish, so you always know what to go with. I have lists of all English words (found in the dictionary, anyway) for each rule (typically hundreds or thousands depending on the rule) and all their exceptions (often a few dozen at most). So let me please assure you that there are not "almost as many exceptions as examples that conform" at all.