Re: English Spelling

From: greynolds (
Date: Wed Dec 08 1999 - 22:03:07 EST

"Robert A. Rosenberg" wrote:
> At 01:31 PM 12/08/1999 -0800, John Cowan wrote:
> >"Reynolds, Gregg" wrote:
> >
> > > [I]t's actually highly rational, but it is
> > > designed for native speakers, not those who needed a phonemic
> > transcription.
> >
> >Most of it. But if a fairly small number of irregularities are repaired
> >(there is no reason why there should be nine different pronunciations of
> >"-ough"), it would be far more so.
> I forget who perpetrated it but someone (using different ways of spelling
> the required pronunciation) came up with GHOTI as the "correct" spelling of
> the word "FISH" (GH as in TOUGH, I as in ?, etc) in an essay on the odd
> spelling of English Words.

Cited in "Visible Speech: The Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems", by
John DeFrancis, p.204-5:

"...George Bernard Shaw's rendition of the surname _Fish_ as _Ghoti_,
with the _gh_ of _rough_, the _o_ of _women_, and the _ti_ of _nation_.
Gelb upstages Shaw by citing the perhaps apocryphal story of the
foreigner who wrote the surname as _Ghotiugh_, adding the silent _ugh_
of _dough_."

(DeFrancis himself seems to be of the "English Orthography is bad if not
evil" school."

These are basically "Stupid Orthography Tricks", stupid being the
operative word. They reflect a total misreading of the semiotics of
written English. But what can you expect from a fin-de-siecle
smarty-pants like GBS?


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