Tag Archives: revising English spelling

I Before E

Except when you reign over the heist of a feisty neighbor’s weird, beige, foreign sleigh. Or when that neighbor’s eight heirs forfeit their heifers and seize freight.

I am amazed that we are even minimally proficient at English spelling, much less those of us who are not native English speakers. Many years ago, George Bernard Shaw, appalled by ridiculous spelling conventions, proposed that each letter have only one sound (such as in Spanish). Given the way English is spelled, he wrote that FISH should be spelled as GHOTI:

1. Take the GH sound in ENOUGH.
2. Then use the O sound in WOMEN.
3. Finally, take the TI sound in NATION.

And you have just made FISH.

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How to Spell “Fish”

George Bernard Shaw was so frustrated by the vagaries of English spelling that he tried, unsuccessfully, to revise standard orthography: each letter should have only one sound.

The way he saw it, using English spelling to write “fish” could easily be GHOTI:

GH=enough

O=women

TI=nation

Got it?

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