Of Marlups, Nargs, and Frinkle Kump

Today I would like to give you a little taste of the kinds of things that we are doing in my education classes.

This semester, one of my classes is in teaching reading in the upper elementary grades (grades 3-5).  During the first week of class we discussed a story called “The Marlup Story”.  This is fairly instructive, because it gives you an idea of what it must be like for children who are learning to read.

Here is the Marlup Story.  Read it and see if you can answer the questions that follow.

A marlup was poving his kump. Parmily a narg horped some whev in his kump. “Why did vump horp whev in my frinkle kump?” the marlup jufd the narg.

“Er’m muvvily trungy,” the narg grupped. “Er heshed vump horped whev in your kump. Do vump pove your kump frinkle?” “Yes!”

Now, answer the questions:

1. What did the narg horp in the marlup’s kump?
2. What did the marlup juf the narg?
3. How trungy was the narg?
4. How does the marlup pove his kump?

Now then.  A couple of takeaways from this:

–Cueing systems.

I’m sure that a lot of you just had the thought enter your mind: “Okay Mr. Education Major, Mr. Teacher Wanna-be.  What on earth is a cueing system?”

Glad you asked.

A cueing system is something that helps us make sense of a text as we are reading it.  There are three cueing systems that come into play anytime you read something:  the graphophonic cueing system, the syntactic cueing system, and the semantic cueing system.

The graphophonic cueing system has to do with how letters and words sound as you read them aloud.

The syntactic cueing system has to do with grammar; that is, what part words play in sentences.  As you look at a word, you may ask questions like: Is this a noun?  Is this a verb?  Is this an adjective?  If it is an adjective, what noun does it modify?  If it is a pronoun, what noun does it take the place of?  If you can answer questions like these, then your syntactic cueing system is working.

The semantic cueing system has to do with meaning.  What does a particular word, phrase, or sentence mean?  What is the text about?  If you can answer questions like these, then your semantic cueing system is working.

Here is how these cueing systems apply to the Marlup Story:

Try and read it aloud.  If you can do so, or at least make a passable attempt, then your graphophonic cueing system is working.

Now, try and answer the questions, if you have not done so already.  The answers are in the story, and you should be able to answer the questions just from knowing what the words do within the sentences.  For instance:

  • What did the narg horv in the marlup’s kump?  Whev.
  • What did the marlup juf the narg?  “Why did vump horp whev in my frinkle kump?”

You can answer the last two.  I won’t let you get off that easy.

When you answer these questions, your syntactic cueing system is at work.

Now then.  What is a marlup?  What is a narg?  What does it mean to pove one’s kump?  What does it mean to horp whev?  Your semantic cueing system is at work when you attempt to answer questions like these.

So what is a marlup?  I don’t know.  What is a narg?  I don’t know that either.  What does it mean to pove one’s kump?  Your guess is as good as mine.  What does it mean to horp whev?  If any of you out there can tell me, I would be extremely appreciative.

Anyone?  Anyone?  Buueeeller?

So your semantic cueing system doesn’t do much of anything for you when you are trying to read this story.

–Another takeaway:  Levels of comprehension.  There are three of these: literal, interpretive, and critical.

The literal level of comprehension is the lowest.  For any questions at this level, the answers are right there in the text.  Another way to think of this is as “reading the lines”.

Questions at the literal level may ask you to recall details (such as who, what, where, when), recall a sequence of events, paraphrase, identify cause-and-effect relationships that are stated explicitly, identify an explicitly stated main idea, or identify explicitly stated character traits and actions.

The next level up is the interpretive level of comprehension.  This can be thought of as “reading between the lines”.  Questions at this level may ask you to predict what you think will happen next in a story, determine an unstated main idea, discern implied cause-and-effect relationships, interpret figurative language (metaphors, similes, personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and other figures of speech), summarize, make inferences, understand mood, or respond to imagery.

The highest level of comprehension is the critical level.  This can best be thought of as “reading beyond the lines”.  Questions that address this level may ask you to differentiate between fact and opinion, recognize propaganda techniques, recognize fallacies in reasoning, discern between relevant and irrelevant information, determine the reliability of the author, make connections between different texts, or apply what you have read to your own life.

So how does all of this come into play with the Marlup Story?

Well, if you answered the questions, I’m sure you recall that the answers were all right there in the story.  All you had to do was be able to read the words in the story in order to answer the questions.  You didn’t have to think in order to answer the questions, and you certainly didn’t have to make any kind of evaluative judgments or apply the story to your own life.

An example of an interpretive level question for this story might be:  How did the marlup feel when the narg horped whev in his kump?

An example of a critical level question for this story might be:  If you were a marlup, would you pove your kump frinkle?  How would you feel if a narg horped whev in your kump?

Well, I’m off to pove my kump.  Don’t any of you even think of trying to horp whev in my frinkle kump!!!

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2 thoughts on “Of Marlups, Nargs, and Frinkle Kump

  1. I remember this from a high-school reading class. In 1977. I might have a word or two wrong, but it goes like this:

    A man was drinking his coffee.
    Suddenly a waitress poured some cream in his coffee.
    “Why did you pour cream in my black coffee?”, the man asked the waitress.
    “I’m very sorry”, the waitress answered.
    “I just poured cream in your coffee. Do you drink your coffee black?”

    Sometimes when I have to say sorry but I’m not really sorry, I say “Er’m muvvily trungy” instead. Then I have to explain about the man and the waitress and the coffee – and never actually get around to apologizing.

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