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This page now includes proposed reforms thru April 9th.
Click here for an index to words discussed throughout this project, in chronological order, most recent first, from the commencement of the project on June 1st, 2004 thru January 2017; and here for words added from February 1st, 2017 onward..
Click here for an index to words discussed throughout this project from A-M, and here for an index to words discussed throughout this project from N-Z, in alphabetical order.
(Within the webpages noted above are clickable links to all the discussions, organized by quarter year.)
here for a list of possible future
Click here for the principles that govern the selection of words for this project.
Click here for a list of words rejected for this project because of those principles.
Click here for links to other websites concerned with spelling.
(In general, only the base form of a word to be revised is given, but closely related forms, such as inflected variants of a verb or a noun created from the verb take the same change (e.g, the reform of "saturate" to "sachurate" carries over to "sachuration", "sachurated", and "sachurating"; "abizmal" carries over to "abizmally"; and so on.)
The distribution of words that require reform is wildly uneven from one initial letter of the alphabet to another. Ordinarily, we have considered one word a day for each initial letter, but we have just about run out of words in various parts of the alphabet, so will treat of the letters that have many, many words (e.g., C, D, P, M, and S) on multiple days in a row before moving to the next letter in alphabetical order.
Sunday, April 9, 2017: "abstemeus" for "abstemious"
OU should not appear in this fancy word for "moderate: not indulging in or characterized by excessive eating or drinking" (Microsoft Encarta Dictionary), because there is no OU-sound. So let's drop the O, which will leave the actual sound, a schwa, clear. Nor should there be an I, because the sound is long-E: "abstemeus".
Saturday, April 8, 2017: "abizmal" for "abysmal"
There are two problems in this short word. First, a Y stands in for a short-A. No, ditch it for an I. Second, an S stands in for the Z-sound. Why? We have the letter Z to represent that sound. Let's use it: "abizmal".
Friday, April 7, 2017: "yaysayer" for "yeasayer"
EA is a highly variable letter sequence that has many pronunciations. Long-A, the intended sound here, is at best the third of its customary uses. A reader shouldn't have to guess how ANYthing is to be pronounced, ever. That is a high standard that only a totally reformed spelling system, such as my Fanetik reform, could meet. Short of that, however, we can make present spellings more like predictable. Here, we have two long-A sounds in one word. Why not spell them the same?: "yaysayer".
Thursday, April 6, 2017: "wilful" for "willful" and "wilful"
We have today a simplification of traditional spelling, choosing to enthrone the better and consign the worse to history. There are presently two accepted spellings for today's word, "willful" and "wilful". We don't need two spellings for one word. Plainly one is better: "wilful".
Wensday, April 5, 2017: "vocifferus" for "vociferous"
There are two problems with the traditional spelling of today's word. The first is that the IFE could well be read as having a long-I as in "rife" and "knife"), whereas it actually has a short-I. We can prevent such a misreading by doubling the following-F.
The second problem is that the last syllable contains an OU, but no OU-sound. There's a quick fix for that: just drop the O: "vocifferus".
Tuesday, April 4, 2017: "vizhual/ize" for "visualize"
There is no S-sound in this pair of words, so there should be no S in the spelling. Rather, the sound is ZH, so we should write ZH: "vizhual" and "vizhualize".
Munday, April 3, 2017: "toew" for "tow"
OW is ambiguous. It could be seen as representing long-O, as in "slow" and "know", or the OU-sound, as in "now" and "plow". Here, it is supposed to be seen as a simple long-O. Ordinarily, we might simply drop the W to rewrite that as "to", but that is the preposterously written term that is actually pronounced tue. If we try to write, instead, "toe", we are stopped because that spells the name of a digit of the foot. So, what are we to do?
Altho there are no words presently in the English vocabulary that employ OEW for a long-O tho what new words might be admitted with that spelling, we cannot know OEW is a perfectly reasonable spelling, well within only slitely-enlarged bounds of traditional conventions: "toew".
My thanks to "space..." for this suggestion.
Sunday, April 2, 2017: "totemmic" for "totemic"
One of the reasons English is so hard to master is that a reasonable spelling in the base word is carried over into derivatives, where the spelling becomes UNreasonable, as here. "Totem" is fine, but "totemic" is NOT fine. The single-M in the derivative allows a reader to see to.tée.mik, which is wrong. Tho we can leave the base term unchanged, we need to fix the derivative: "totemmic".
Saturday, April 1 2017: "tocofferaul" for "tocopherol"
This Science Saturday, let's fix the spelling of an antioxidant. The present spelling includes the indefensibly preposterous spelling PH for a simple F-sound. So let's replace the PH with F. Here, we need a double-F, to show that the preceding-O is short.
At the end of the word is an ambiguous O, which is intended to represent the AU-sound. If the sound is AU, let's write AU: "tocofferaul".
Friday, March 31, 2017: "tonteen" for "tontine"
This unusual word, for a form of group investment or insurance in which everything goes to the last survivor of the group, first came to my notice in a 1982 episode of the classic police sitcom, Barney Miller, which program is currently broadcast, on some nites, in syndication on Antenna TV.
In any case, the INE is ambiguous. It could be said with a long-I, as in "dine" and "refine"; or a short-I, as in "adrenaline" and "jasmine"; or long-E, as in "machine" and "magazine"; or even (tho unlikely) in two syllables, as in "aborigine"). Here, it's supposed to be said as long-E, which we can plainly show simply by changing the I to EE: "tonteen".
Thursday, March 30, 2017: "tonsoreal" for "tonsorial"
IA should be said with a long-I, as in "diatom", "hiatus", and "iambic". Here, however, it stands in for a long-E. Why? We have an E for that sound. Let's use it: "tonsoreal".
Wensday, March 29, 2017: "tommahawk" for "tomahawk"*
A single-M leaves unclear whether the preceding-O is long (compare "tomatillo") or short ("automaton"). It's short, so we need to double the M to show that: "tommahawk".
Tuesday, March 28, 2017: "stokastic" for "stochastic"*
The CH in today's word does not represent the standard CH-sound of English, as in "church" and "chide", but the English K-sound. So why on EARTH is it written CH rather than either just-C or K? That makes no sense.
We could respell this word with only a C in place of the CH, but "-castic" might confuse the reader into thinking the word has something to do with "sarcastic", the only "-castic" word most people are likely to think of on the fly. There is no relationship between these two words, however, so substituting K for the CH will make plain the sound without confusing the meaning: "stokastic".
* In statistics, "random".
Munday, March 27, 2017: "stachur" for "stature"
T does not spell the CH-sound. CH does. And URE is misleading, in suggesting to the reader that the vowel is long-U, whereas it is short-U or the vowel of what is most commonly written ER: "stachur".
Sunday, March 26, 2017: "stadeum" for "stadium"
IU should be said with a long-I sound ("triumph", "triumvirate"), but here, the I is said as tho it were an E. Let's exchange it for the much more reasonable E: "stadeum".
Note: The antique plural "stadia", which is almost never seen anymore, should be revised to "stadea".
Saturday, March 25, 2017: "sfigmomanommeter" for "sphygmomanometer"
This Science Saturday, let's fix, to the extent possible, the ridiculous name for a medical instrument for measuring blood pressure. There are two absurdities in the first syllable of the conventional spelling, and one problem between the fourth and fifth syllables. In the first syllable occurs the preposterous and contemptible spelling PH for a simple F-sound. Let's get rid of it, and put an F there. The second problem in the first syllable is a Y for a short-I sound, whereas Y, midword, is more reasonably restricted to a long-I sound, as in "cyan", "dynamo", and "hydro".
At the end of the fourth syllable, there is a single-M, which leaves unclear whether the preceding-O is long or short. It's short, so we should show that plainly by doubling the M. Now, tho the word itself may be ridiculous, at least the spelling will no longer also be ridiculous: "sfigmomanommeter".
Friday, March 24, 2017: "sleepwair" for "sleepwear"
EA is highly ambiguous (long-E: "dean"; short-E: "dead"; long-A: "break"; the AI-sound (flat-A): "pear"; the AU-sound: "Sean"; two vowels in sequence: "react", "creation"; etc.). To show unambiguously the sound here, we can simply write: "sleepwair".
My thanks to "GreenD..." for this suggestion.
Thursday, March 23, 2017: "simultaneus" for "simultaneous"
There is at least one bad spelling here we should all be able to agree upon, an OU where there is no OU-sound. So let's just drop the O? There is another change we might be tempted to make, replacing the I with Y, to show a long-I sound more clearly ("symultaneus"). Alas, some people actually do say a short-I, so we can't change that: "simultaneus".
Wensday, March 22, 2017: "seequence" for "sequence"
E before QU is unclear (long: "sequin"; short: "non sequitur"). To show plainly that, here, the E takes its long sound, we need merely double the E: "seequence".
Tuesday, March 21, 2017: "scroo/driever" for "screw/driver"
This is our first Booze Tuesday in a very long time,* and involves two elements linked in a compound word, but only the first requires reform.
"Screw" is not remotely indicative of the sound that its spelling is meant to convey. EW should be pronounced as short-E followed by a W-glide, and if you sound that out, you will realize that it approximates a long-O, not long-U. How, then, would we better write a long-U at the end of a word? Three obvious spellings would be UE, U, and OO.
Altho the digraph OO has both a long sound (as in "too" and "boost") and a short sound (as in "good" and "took"), no one would read OO at the end of a word as short, but only as long. UE or U at the end of a word would also do, esp. after the letter R, because no one is tempted to put a Y-glide before a long-U sound after an R. So, which of these three spellings should we use?
"Scru" is clear, and more compact than "scrue". But OO has the advantage of indicating that you could not possibly see a YU-sound for the long-U. So let's go with OO: "scroo" and "scroodriver".
* Dictionary.com, on "screwdriver": "a mixed drink made with vodka and orange juice."
My thanks to "Red..." for this suggestion.
Munday, March 20, 2017: "saisheate" for "satiate"
T does not spell the SH-sound. SH does. Nor should we use IA to represent the sound sequence long-E plus long-A. Nor, closer to the start of the word, should we write just-A midword, because that makes the sound of the A ambiguous. That A is long. To indicate that, we could write AY or AI. Midword, AI is much more common, so let's write that. The sound that immediately follows it is that of SH. And the vowel sound after the SH is long-E. To show readers how today's word should actually be pronounced, we need to respell it drastically: "saisheate".
We are running low on, or have already run out of, words in need of reform that start in I, J, K, L, N, O, Q, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z. If readers see the need for reform of words that start in any of those letters, and which have not already been used (as recorded in this project's chronological archives) or rejected for this project files, please suggest reforms. But we need not change spellings unless the present spelling is inadequate or misleading, or there is more than one spelling and we need to settle on only one.
Please bookmark this page and stop by regularly. Tell your friends. Tell your teachers. Tell the world!
Tho it would be neater to change all words of a pattern at the same time (e.g., all -OUS endings to -US), that is implied in the change of individual words of that pattern. But traditional English spelling isn't consistent, which is why it is so hard to master. Some words that sound the same are spelled differently (there, their, they're); some words that are spelled the same are pronounced differently (refuse as verb and noun). To impose complete consistency on English without radical reform is impossible. Short of radical reform, then, we can either reform some words or surrender to spelling chaos and do nothing.
English spelling didn't become crazy all at once, but one word at a time. Old English was phonetic, and such variations in spelling as occurred reflected variations in pronunciation. New words have come into the language one by one, with their own individual spelling, sometimes quite unreasonable. In like fashion, we can change some unreasonable spellings to reasonable, one word at a time, inefficient tho that approach may be. See below for radical reform that does address all the issues at once.
* SSWD is a project of L. Craig Schoonmaker, Newark, New Jersey, United States, creator of Fanetik: Reformed (Phonetic) Spelling - at Least for Teaching. [NOTE: On April 5, 2017, I corrected the link above, and the two below. They had pointed to a website I was paying for, but the Australian webhost proved unreliable. So I moved the key files to the free webhost Tripod, which is compensated for its webhosting by ads atop each hosted webpage. These links now point to my free Tripod website.] Phonetic pronunciations on this site are rendered in Augméntad Fanétik, which employs accents for syllabic stress. For information about other ways to change irrational spellings, search the Internet for spelling reform.
Comments? Suggestions? If you have suggestions as to words to reform, please check first if they have already been used or have already been placed on the list of words to be addressed in the future or words that have been considered but rejected. Please also check the principles that control whether a word will or will not be offered. Once you have done that, or for any other purpose, please write to Fanetiks@aol.com. Because, for reasons I do not understand, some people have written under temporary email addresses that are abandoned before I can reply, I will not make personal replies to anyone who (a) does not request reactions and (b) does not provide a valid return email address (which will be checked, before I write any substantive reply, by a test email). And if you'd like credit on this page for any suggestion you make that is used, please provide a name and location (city, state/country) for that credit. Absent a personal name, credit will be given to an abbreviated form of the email address, without the at-sign or domain information (e.g., if the email address is "firstname.lastname@example.org", credit might be made to "mjmart...")