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THE MECHANISM OF WRITING 273
composes words. His manual work is only that of taking known
shapes from a case and spreading them out on a mat. The word
is built up, letter by letter, in correspondence with its component
sounds. Since the letters are movable objects it is easy to correct
by displacements the composition which is made. This represents
a studied analysis of the word and an excellent means for improving
It is a real study, an exercise of the intelligence free from
mechanism; it is not jnixed up with the interesting exercise of the
necessity for producing writing. Hence the intellectual energy
devoted to this new interest may be expended without weariness
in a surprising amount of work.
This consists essentially of the alphabets. It includes letters
of the alphabet identical in form and dimensions with those of
sandpaper, though here they are cut out of coloured cardboard.
The letters are loose, that is, they are not gummed on card-
board or on anything else; hence every letter is an object which
can be handled.
At the bottom of each compartment is fixed a letter whack
cannot be taken out; so no trouble is wasted over putting the
letters back into the case, seeing that the fixed letter forms a guide.
The letters are distributed in two boxes, each one of which
contains all the vowels. The vowels are cut out of blue card-
board, and the consonants out of pink. These letters carry at
the bottom of the back a strip of white cardboard fixed transversely,
which indicates the position of the letter as well as the level at
which the various letters should be placed according to shape
(corresponding to the line on which we write).
THE COMPOSITION OF WORDS
Directly the child knows some vowels and consonants there
is placed before him one of the big boxes containing all the vowels
and half of the consonants, some known, others unknown, marked