Simpler Spelling
Word of the Day
July-September 2006

Click here for today's suggestion.
Click here to return to the archive index.
Click here for a list of possible future words.
Click here for a brief statement of the principles that influence the selection of words.

Munday-Saturday, September 25-30, 2006:
"aut" for "ought"

"saut" for "sought"
"braut" for "brought"
"faut" for "fought"

"drednaut" for "dreadnought"
"fraut" for "fraught"

Let's close out the month (and quarter year) with six rhyming words, all of which are irrationally spelled.

Four of them are the past and past participle forms of very different verbs, owe, seek, bring, and fight! They bear scant resemblance to the root verb they relate to, and equally scant resemblance to their spelling.

None of these words has an OU-sound. Rather, all have an AU-sound, as we can see in the last, "fraught" (an adjective) and in words similar to two others, assault and fault. So that is the pattern we should employ for all. It's already in "fraught", so the only thing we have to do with that word is drop the silent-GH.

"Dreadnought", an antique word one still hears in historical references to battleships (and which also has two arcane textile-related meanings), has the further tiny problem of a misleading EA, which could be seen as EE. Simply dropping the A fixes that in a hurry.

And so we arrive at: "aut", "saut", "braut", "faut", "drednaut", and "fraut".

My thanks to "tvp..." for "braut", "Dogs..." for "sought", and "Clap..." for "ought", of which he says "This word just ought to be spelled this way."

Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24, 2006:
"surprize" for "surprise"

"enterprize" for "enterprise"

ISE is an ambiguous spelling that sometimes takes an S-sound, sometimes a Z-sound: vise, concise, precise; wise, devise, revise. For ease in reading and predictability of spelling, we should replace the S with Z in all places where it is pronounced Z. We have already suggested a few such changes. Here are two more: "surprize" and "enterprize".

My thanks to "Clap..." for "surprize".

Thursday and Friday, September 21 and 22, 2006:
"balay" for "ballet"

"farfollay" for "farfalle"

Let's deal with two words that have a long-A sound at the end that is not plain from the spelling. The first ends with a silent-T, and an E before it, not an A. The second (the Italian name of bowtie pasta, for Food Friday) ends with an E that is not silent but is pronounced, usually as long-A. A small minority of people have already anglicized this word to have a long-E at the end, but the word has not been added to many dictionaries yet, and most people seeing it will apply a "Continental" sound system, as to see a long-A sound, so there's time to write this phonetically to give people clear guidance as to which way it is to be pronounced.

A long-E sound represented by a single-E at the end of a word is very unusual, but certainly not unheard-of (abalone, recipe). Still, most people will not see a single-E at the end of a word as long-E. In the case of "farfalle", let's show people that the way to say this is with a long-A at the end.

There are other difficulties with the present spellings of these words. BALL, the first part of "ballet", is a word people learn to read very early, and is thus taken as the way this pattern is to be pronounced generally. BALL also contains the even smaller word, also learned very early, ALL, which is pronounced the same way, with an AU-sound. Here, however, the -ALL- takes a short-A, as in the nickname "Al" for Alan, Allen, or Allyn. AL also takes that pronunciation in words like alchemy and alkali. But it takes other pronunciations too (as in also and already; chemical, allegedly), and short-A before L is sometimes shown by a double-L, especially if an E follows (allegory, allergy, allotropic). It is because some sounds just cannot be made clear in standard spelling that I advocate systematic, rigidly phonetic spelling reform.

For the present purpose, let's content ourselves with making things clearer, even if we cannot make them completely clear. A single-L would be clearer in reforming "ballet": "ballay" might be seen as having an AU-sound in the first syllable; with "balay", that is much less likely.

In like fashion, OLL is clearer an indicator of a short-O (or broad-A) sound in a reformed spelling for "farfalle" (compare follow, rollicking, collagen), even tho there are some occurrences of OLL in which it takes long-O , especially in words of one syllable (roll, toll, scroll). We cannot, thus, make this sound completely clear in present spelling, either, but leaving an A would be far less clear than changing it to O.

Thus do we arrive at this pair of reformed spellings for the end of the workweek: "balay" and "farfollay".

We needn't deal with the issue of syllabic stress in "balay". It can be read as being stressed on either syllable, and is in fact stressed by different people on different syllables. First-syllable stress is more customary in North America; second-syllable in Britain.

Tuesday and Wensday, September 19 and 20, 2006:
"capcher" for "capcher"

"rapcher" for "rapcher"

In Monday's discussion of "de/tour", I pointed out that -TURE is a common ending that is often pronounced cher / chur. Here are two words with that pronunciation we should fix to show the CH-sound (as in church) more clearly and sensibly, by simply writing CH.

One question remained, whether to use -ER or -UR. One might argue that -ER could be perceived as an agent ending, but there is no verb "capch" or "rapch", and ER is the most common way of writing the sound, so let's just use ER so that people guessing how to spell it on hearing it might more likely be right: "capcher" and "rapcher".

My thanks to "Caste..." for these two suggestions.

Munday, September 18, 2006: "de/toor" for "de/tour"

There is no OU-sound in either of these words, so should be no OU. We might rewrite these words "deture", but that would be very unclear, since -TURE is a common ending that is often pronounced cher / chur (as in indenture, debenture, nature). OO is a better choice. So, today's twofer is: "de/toor".

Sunday, September 17, 2006: "lessayfair" for "laissez faire" / "laisser faire"

There are two cumbersome and peculiar French spellings for this one English term, derived from different verb forms in the original French. As far as the hundreds of millions of people who speak English are concerned, however, the term is no longer French but English, so should be spelled in a way that is clear to readers of English: "lessayfair".

Sunday-Saturday, September 10-16, 2006:
"cammaflozh" for "camouflage"
"colozh" for "collage"
"fusalozh" for "fuselage"

"masozh" for "massage"
"mirozh" for "mirage"

"sabbatozh" for "sabotage"
"treozh" for "triage"

In English, -AGE is a standard suffix, with various meanings, that turns various parts of speech into nouns. It is pronounced -aj (with a schwa sound) or -ij. In a few words from French, however,  it retains a French pronunciation, tho you could not know that from the spelling. Let's make that plain by changing the spelling to use the typical pronunciation-key rendering ZH for the French-J or G before E and I.

We can cover most of the best-known such words in one week, so let's make this -OZH Week.

With some of these words, there are other problems, all easily fixed. "Camouflage" contains a written OU but no OU-sound. "Massage" has a double-S, which suggests that the first syllable is stressed, whereas the second is. "Camoflozh" and "sabotozh" would be unclear as to the sound of the A. "Fuselozh" would be unclear as to whether the word has two syllables or three.

Fixing these various little things in addition to the -OZH ending, this week's words are: "cammaflozh", "colozh", "fusalozh", "masozh", "mirozh", "sabbatozh", and "treozh".

"Mirage", by the way, is one of the words in which IR actually does contain a short-I sound before R (see last week's discussion of "squirt" and "squirm"). However, that is in part because the I and R fall in different syllables.

Friday and Saturday, September 8 and 9, 2006:
"squert" for "squirt"

"squerm" for "squirm"

IR is an ambiguous spelling for what is ordinarily spelled ER, as in emergency. Think of irritating (which is what I find much of traditional spelling to be). In that word, and others, the IR sounds to most people more like EER, as in "ear". Dictionaries, curiously, show in their pronunciation key simply IR, as tho we really say a short-I before the R-sound in such places. No, the bulk of us do not. The same dictionaries show a short-I for the first E in emergency! Again, most of us do not say a short-I in any such place, but use what is qualitatively a long-E sound, merely articulated for a shorter duration and with no diphthongization (that is, no Y-glide at the end of the E-sound). Perhaps some Brits use a short-I in such places, but they do that even when an E is plainly shown, so their pronunciation shows no reverence for the spelling and should thus not hold back reform of spellings to give non-Brits, and especially the billion or so people trying to learn English as a Second Language, clearer guidance as to how things are pronounced.

The IR in "squirt" and "squirm" is misleading, so should be changed.

The two most common ways of showing the correct sound are ER and UR. Some people think UR is closer, tho ER is far more frequent. Here, however, to employ UR would yield "squurt" and "squurm", which look very odd and would be, for most people, hard to decipher. So ER is by far the better choice: "squert" and "squerm".

My thanks to "Fisherman..." for "squert" and "GreenD..." for "squerm".

Wensday and Thursday, September 6 and 7, 2006:
"markee" for "marquee"

"markeeze" for "marquise"

Let's deal with three related words, "marquee", "marquis", and "marquise". All come from Italian marche, a borderland, from Gothic marka, area near a boundary (mark). "Marquis" has an English pronunciation identical to that for the spelling "marquess", but most people see it as French, which is indeed its form, and pronounce it mor.kée. (Remember that in the pronunciation key used here, O followed by any vowel is always short-O as in "obvious", which is the same sound as "broad-A".) "Marquee" comes from "marquise", the feminine of "marquis", and is pronounced mor.kéez. Apparently, many people thought "marquise" (the name of a large tent in England) was plural, so backformed "marquee" for the singular! But "marquise" is singular, not plural. "Marquise" now more commonly refers to an oval cut of gemstones with pointed ends.

We can write both "marquee" and "marquis" as "markee"; or "marquis" could retain its present spelling, which leaves people unclear as to its pronunciation. It should, as an English word, take an English pronunciation, mór.kwis (as does the spelling "marquess"). But that's up to each speaker to decide for him- or herself.

"Marquise" should, however, be spelled parallel to "freeze".

So we can reduce this trio to a duo — or leave "marquis" as odd man out and revise only "marquee" and "marquise", to: "markee" and "markeeze".

Tuesday, September 5, 2006: "aquaduct" for "aqueduct"

Who would expect an E in this word? We all know the root "aqua", as in aquatic and aquamarine — tho we don't necessarily know how to pronounce the A's, since some people say a short-A, others a broad-A or short-O (same sound). That's what happens when you don't have a phonetic spelling system.

We also know the element "-duct", as in viaduct. Why on Earth would "aqueduct" have an E?

The explanation is that in the original Latin, the phrase was "aquae ductus", the drawing  off of water, which takes AE, and the E rather than A is what survived into English. Not good enuf. We expect "aqua", and "aqua" is what we should get: "aquaduct".

Munday, September 4, 2006: "swov" for "suave"

My family has always been amused or annoyed by the absurdities of English spelling. Yesterday's word, "suede" (pronounced swade) reminded me of a similar word, "suave". In my family we have an expression comprising two conceivably misread words from traditional spelling, "suave and debonair", which we say as swaev aand debóener. That is, of course, not as those words are supposed to be pronounced, but in English it is often very hard to know how words are to be pronounced.

"Suave" is supposed to be pronounced swov, so let's spell it that way: "swov".

Sunday, September 3, 2006: "swade" for "suede"

As is so often the case with crazy spellings in English, this word comes from French (where it is spelled Suède). Oddly, it is French for "Sweden", and originally referred to a type of leather used in gloves from Sweden. No matter. It's English now, so needs to be spelled in the English fashion so that people who do not know — nor necessarily even want to know — French can know how to pronounce it on sight and spell it on hearing. The present spelling looks as tho it should be said just like "sued", but it should not. It should be said, and thus written: "swade".

Saturday, September 2, 2006: "burlesk" for "burlesque"

"Burlesque" is only two syllables, but could be seen by new readers as three. There is as well no KW sound to the QU here, so why write QU?: "burlesk".

Friday, September 1, 2006: "keesh" for "quiche"

There is a joke about this Food Friday's selection, in which President Bush is in a restaurant and remarks to the waitress that he'll have "a quickie", only to be corrected by a member of his staff that the word is pronounced keesh.

Considering that Bush comes from Old Money, I rather doubt he would say "quickie" for "quiche", but other people might well see the QUI as being as in quit and the CHE as being as in psyche, which would indeed yield quíkee.

The French know how to pronounce their own absurd spellings, but readers of English don't necessarily know even what language a ridiculous spelling comes from, so don't know what language's sound scheme to apply. If "quiche" were from Greek, like psyche, how would it be pronounced?

There is no reason for us to wonder about such things. Every English word should be spelled in a fashion that is as close to unambiguous as we can get using English conventions. In the case of "quiche", that would be: "keesh".

My thanks to "Clap..." for this suggestion.

Thursday, August 31, 2006: "protazhay" for "protégé" or "protege"

"Protégé" is a French verb form that means "protected", tho we don't generally think of a protege as someone protected so much as given special favor by an influential person. Tho the word started as French and retains, in formal typography, two accents, people in English-speaking countries don't type accents, so the accents have to go. In French, the accented E's are pronounced long-A. In English, only the second one is. The first is schwaed.

The G is neither of the English G's, neither hard (as in get) nor soft (as in gesture), but takes the sound of French J, or G before E or I, which sound is represented in English pronunciation keys by ZH. Since everybody knows how to pronounce ZH, let's just write that as the formal spelling.

Putting all this together, we get: "protazhay".

Tuesday and Wensday, August 29 and 30, 2006: "fac/simmily" for "fac/simile"

Tho the short form "fax" has largely replaced one sense of this word in general use, the long form "facsimile" is still used even for the sense of a device to transmit pictures and documents over the telephone, and the long form is the only one used for other senses, such as in the expression "reasonable facsimile thereof". The long form contains the short word "mile", but those four letters divide into two syllables, which a new reader would certainly not expect.

"Facsimile" also contains a second word in which final-E is pronounced long, "simile". There are over a hundred common words of that sort (among them recipe, epitome, sesame), but they still confuse new readers. "Simile", for instance, looks a lot like the word "smile", which new readers will have learned earlier and so have every reason to expect to be pronounced like "smile" or the even shorter, familiar word "mile". So we need to change the E to a Y, which will make plain that there are two syllables in this -mile, divided at the L.

We could leave everything else the same, but if we double the M, we at once indicate (1) that the I before the M is definitely short, (2) that the word's stress falls immediately before it and, consequently, (3) that the I after it might well be short too. That's good value for one added letter. So the words for Tuesday and Wensday are the related words: "facsimmily" and "simmily".

Munday, August 28, 2006: "ellefant" for "elephant"

Let's make two little changes in the name of one of our favorite animals, the big, lovable elephant, star of the circus and bulldozer of India. PH is a preposterous way of spelling the F-sound, and people shouldn't have to remember which words take a ridiculous PH combination as against which simply write F. Let's get rid of all P-H combinations that don't represent the two separate sounds P and H as in uphill, uphold, and upheaval. Further, we should double the L to show (1) that the first E is short, (2) that the second-E has its own sound (in this case, schwa), in its own syllable, and (3) that the word's stress falls on the first syllable: "ellefant".

Sunday, August 27, 2006: "quod/rangle" for "quad/rangle"

The vowel in the first syllable of "quadrangle" is short-O, not short-A, so should be written with an O in both the short form and long: "quod/rangle".

Friday and Saturday, August 25 and 26, 2006:
"cooscoose" for "couscous"

"cazbah" for "casbah" or "kasbah"

Let's deal with two words from North African Arabic.

For Food Friday, let's have some steamed semolina. "Couscous" is an odd and ambiguous spelling: odd, because it uses OU where there is no OU-sound but a long-U, in two places; ambiguous, because -OUS is a standard adjectival suffix, pronounced with a schwa or short-U (mucous, viscous), but here the -OUS is an integral part of the word, not a suffix at all. If it were seen as a suffix, the word might be pronounced kóus.kas.

We have a very familiar word that sounds like each of the two syllables of "couscous": "goose". Let's use that as model.

There remains one issue: do we need a median-E (coosecoose), or would that introduce an element of ambiguity, as to whether the E is pronounced (kúes.a.kues) or silent? On the other hand, without the E after the first-S, would some readers see a Z-sound? I think that the dynamics of assimilation would assure that most people would see S before hard-C as having the standard S-sound, so no, we don't need a simple doubling of "coose" but can save a letter and avoid any ambiguity about whether the word has two syllables or three.

A casbah is a place you might dine on couscous. "Casbah" has no S-sound. Rather, the sibilant is a Z-sound, so why not just write it with a Z?

That makes this pair: "cooscoose" and "cazbah".

* "[T]he older, native Arab quarter of a North African city, esp. Algiers" — Random House.

Thursday, August 24, 2006: "yoo" for "yew"

Y-E-W is both a peculiar and a redundant way to spell this name of an evergreen shrub, which sounds exactly like the second-person pronoun "you" (which I have previously* offered as "yu").

EW represents more than one sound, for instance, long-O (sew), long-U (stew), and a consonantal Y plus long-U (few, mew). Since the Y is implied in a word like "yew", it's redundant to put a Y at the start of the word, which might simply be written "ew". Compare ewe. Indeed, in Middle English, this word was written "ew".

To clarify which of the EW-sounds this word takes, let's just borrow the pattern of another plant, bamboo: "yoo" .

* June 12, 2004.

Wensday, August 23, 2006: "rackit" for "racquet"

"Racquet" is the more formal spelling of the paddle with netting used in tennis, squash, racquetball, etc. Tho "racket" is given as an alternative spelling for the paddle, the game "racquetball" apparently does not use the form with a K. We could just abolish the form with a Q altogether, and lose all spelling distinctions: "racket" and "racketball". But I rather like having the distinction, so will offer an alternative.

Both words are pronounced rá, despite the E in their spellings. Let's leave "racket" for its various senses but respell "racquet" with an I in place of the E: "rackit".

Incidentally, "racquet" is one example of a word in which everyone pronounces QU as K with no W sound. Many people think that QU before other sounds (as against at the end of a word, as in "antique", "mystique", and such) always signals the KW sound sequence, and that pronunciations like kaurt and káur.ter for "quart" and "quarter" are dialectal or just plain wrong. However, as with so many other generalizations in English, that belief is mistaken. It is because spelling often leads us astray that this website exists, to try to make spelling a surer guide to people who want to know what really is "correct" speech.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006: "haz" for "has"

S has too many uses in English, and is pronounced Z in some of its grammatical uses, such as pluralization or possessive of words that end in a vowel or voiced consonant. "Has" could be a plural, of "ha", but it's not. It is the irregular third-person singular, present-tense form of the verb "to have", an auxiliary verb that is used a great deal. Since the S is integral to the word, not a suffix, and is pronounced Z (as in "hazardous"), it would be better simply to write it with a Z: "haz".

My thanks to "Music..." for this suggestion.

Munday, August 21, 2006: "ajust/ment" for "adjust/ment"

There are various ways of showing a J-sound in traditional spelling, two of which involve a D: DG and DJ. Plainly the D is utterly superfluous in DJ, since the J predominates. So, let's just drop the needless D: "ajust/ment".

My thanks to "Clap..." for this suggestion.

Sunday, August 20, 2006: "under/wair" for "under/wear"

EA is ordinarily pronounced as tho written EE: ear, hear, fear. In "wear", it is supposed to represent the "flat-A" sound in air, hair, and fair. Plainly AI is a better spelling: "under/wair".

Saturday, August 19, 2006: "garbij" for "garbage"

There are some soft-G's we can replace with J, without problem, because the word has no inflected form. This is one such word. There is no plural for "garbage", because garbage is stuff, not things. Nor is there a verb "to garbage", so we don't have to worry about "s/he garbijjes", "garbijjed", "garbijjing", or any other form that might require two J's to be clear.  Tho perfectly sensible in conforming to the rule that you double a consonant to show that a vowel immediately before it is short, two J's may be one too many for most people to accept.

We face no need to double the J with this word, so can easily get rid of the ambiguous -AGE. It doesn't rhyme with "rage" or the first part of "bagel". The A represents a schwa that more closely approaches short-I than any other full vowel. Let's just use an I. The -GE represents soft-G. But soft-G is just another way of saying "J-sound". Let's just use a J and have done with it: "garbij".

Friday, August 18, 2006: "tamolly" for "tamale"

For this Food Friday, let's address the name of an old Mexican favorite we don't see much nowadays.*

The partially anglicized pronunciation we give"tamale" makes this one of those many words in which a final-E is not silent but is pronounced long-E (recipe, epitome, calliope, etc.). In Spanish, it would be an abbreviated long-A.

Since we don't give this word its Spanish sound, there's no reason for us to retain its Spanish spelling, which looks to be two syllables, ta-male (the English word opposite "female"). The "ta-" part is fine, since it will be read as T-schwa. But the "male" part is wrong. It has nothing to do with "male" and isn't pronounced that way. It is pronounced "Molly", like the female name, anchor for screws to be put into wallboard walls, or tropical fish. So let's spell it that way: "tamolly".

*  Hormel used to offer canned tamales with paper wrappers rather than corn husks, but a quick check of Hormel's website shows no such product, even tho recipes on the site formerly called for its inclusion.

My thanks to "rhod..." for this suggestion.

Monday thru Thursday, August 14-17, 2006:
"dizmal" for "dismal"
"muze" for "muse"
"bizzy" for "busy"
"bizniz" for "business"

There are many traditional spellings in which S represents the Z-sound. Let's deal with four.

With "dismal" and "muse", substituting Z for S is all that's needed. Unlike the parallel to "muse", ruse, there is no alternative pronunciation that employs an S-sound.

With "busy" and "business", however, there is the additional problem that U represents a short-I sound! And with "business", there is a 'mute-I' in the middle that is not pronounced, so needs to be dropped.

With "busy", we can't just change the S to Z and the U to I, because "bizy" would be read as having a long-I, whereas it actually has a short-I. The customary way to show that would be to double the Z, so "bizzy" is parallel to "dizzy". That's simple enuf.

"Business" is a really bizarre word, for having three S's pronounced as two Z-sounds in different parts of the word. SS at the end powerfully suggests an S-sound, but it's a Z-sound! Moreover, all the vowels are wrong. The U should be an I; the I should be gone; and the E is a schwa that is far closer to short-I than to short-E. Fortunately, this bizarre word has a familiar informal spelling that handles all of this nicely: "bizniz". So let's adopt that formally.

This foursome thus resolves to: "dizmal", "muze", "bizzy", and "bizniz".

My thanks to "Clap..." for "bizzy".

Thursday thru Sunday, August 10-13, 2006:
"shalay" for "chalet"

"pistasheo" for "pistachio"
"shandaleer" for "chandelier"

"shaneel" for "chenille"

There are lots of traditional spellings in which CH does not represent the English CH-sound (as in church). Let's deal with four in which CH represents the SH-sound (as in shush).

Three are from French, in which CH is that language's way of showing what English shows, in native words, by CH. The fourth, however, "pistachio" (for Food Friday), is from Italian, and would be pronounced with a K-sound for the CH in that language, because that is the way Italian shows a K-sound before E and I. Why is it said, in English, in the French fashion if it is from Italian? Because, you see, French was, for centuries, the only language other than English that educated people in English-speaking countries 'knew', or thought they knew, and for most people in English-speaking countries, all foreign languages are French! Thus people see Chinese "Beijing", and apply the French pronunciation of J: ZH. They see Spanish "Chavez" and say sha.véz, which is a half-assed Francization by people who know that French says CH as SH and tends to put stress on the last syllable. They don't know, or remember, that French also tends to render silent a final-Z!

In any case, no matter the original language, all these words are English now, so should be spelled in the English fashion, with SH for the SH-sound.

"Chalet" has two things wrong: first, CH for the SH-sound; second, the T is silent. If it's silent, it shouldn't be there. Readers of French may know to drop it, but few native speakers of English (and fewer Third World learners in places like China and India) read French. Different people say the A short or broad, but A will accommodate both pronunciations. Similarly, some people give this word its original French stress, on the second syllable, others on the first. But the spelling "shalay" accommodates both.

"Pistachio" also has two things wrong, the CH for the SH-sound and an IO, which is ambiguous, for the sound of EO. Compare "Iowa", "Kiowa", "diode" and the astronomers' pronunciation of Jupiter's moon, "Io".

"Chandelier" has two things wrong, as well, the same CH-SH error and an IER for the sound of EER. Compare "fiery", "amplifier", "brier". We could leave the E after the D as-is, but A is much more common for the schwa sound than is E, and part of this project is to devise spellings that people would find easier to remember, or guess at. I suspect most people would guess an A there rather than an E.

"Chenille" also has two things wrong, the CH-SH error, and a ridiculous — and ambiguous — ILLE for the sound of "eel". Compare "vaudeville", "guillemot", "escadrille".

Fortunately, all these problems have quick fixes: "shalay", "pistasheo", "shandeleer", and "shaneel".

Wensday, August 9, 2006: "ile" for "isle"

There are three words in English that sound like this, aisle, isle, and I'll. The third is distinctive in form, for having a capital-I, since it represents the first-person-singular pronoun, and an apostrophe to show that letter(s) have been dropped (in this case, W and I from will or S, H, and A from shall) to make this contraction.

There is a paucity of conventional ways to show the sounds of the other two words, which sound the same and pretty much have to be written the same. I have already offered "ile" for "aisle" (January 4, 2005), but see no alternative customary spelling to offer for "isle" but "ile".

There are lots and lots of homonyms in English that are both homophones (that sound the same) and homographs (written the same) . Sometimes they derive from different ancient words, so the different 'words' (which are perceived as the same word) are shown in dictionaries with superscripted numbers (e.g., pound1, pound2, pound3, each with its own etymology (word history)). Other times, radically different senses are assigned to the same word (run meaning to jog, run meaning get going ("I have to run now"), a run of numbers (sequence). Yet other times, there are words that are distinct in one form but the same in another (the noun diver and adjective divers, meaning "various", are distinct; but the plural of the noun is the same as the adjective).

Altho ideally spelling reform would not create more homographs in a language overloaded with them, it really is not the basic job of spelling to distinguish between senses of a word but to convey the sound unambiguously such that anyone seeing the spelling will know how to say it. Ideally, spelling should also be predictable, such that anyone hearing a word will know how to spell it. That standard requires that we spell the same, words that sound the same unless there is good reason not to.

If words can be confused without a spelling distinction, and each spelling assigned to the different homophones abides by well-established conventions, spelling them slightly differently may well be a good thing to do. That is what I try to do here. For instance, here / hear is a useful distinction, so I won't suggest changing it. But aisle and isle would pretty much never be confused in context — aisle is frequent and commonplace; isle is uncommon, even poetic — so there is no compelling reason not to spell them the same.

The spelling "ile" for "isle" has the added advantage of bringing it closer to its French origin, île, where the "hat" on the I (circumflex accent) represents a historic-S that the French dropped once it became silent. English is cluttered with thousands of letters that have gone silent since they were first included in standard spellings. We don't use accents, so can't drop the S in "isle" and replace it with an accent. We must simply drop it altogether: "ile".

Tuesday, August 8, 2006: "uvra" for "oeuvre"

Let's simplify for English-speakers a loanword that means the "sum of the lifework of an artist, writer, or composer". My Random House Electronic Unabridge places the usage label "French" on this word, but neither my American Heritage nor places any such "foreign" usage label on this word, so it is presumably now regarded as "naturalized" into English. Yet, it is supposed to be pronounced in the French fashion, employing a sound that does not exist in English. That is preposterous. English is English, and does not expand its sound set to accommodate loanwords. There are hundreds of millions of sophisticated, educated speakers of English who do not know French. It's time to anglicize both the pronunciation and the spelling of this word..

No exact equivalent exists for the OEU sound of French. Some people might hear it as close to the sound of E in the ER combo; others slightly closer to long-A (as some people pronounce the German name "Koenig", which has the same sound), but the simplest and closest rendering is probably short-U.

The final-E in "oeuvre" is pronounced, as a schwa following an ordinary English R. It is not changed to an ER-sound as the same spelling is in words like "massacre" and "acre".

Aside from being hard for English-speakers to say, the present spelling is very hard to remember. Let's make it easy.

Putting this all together, then, we get: "uvra".

Munday, August 7, 2006: "heffer" for "heifer"

EI is usually pronounced either long-I or long-E (as in the two common pronunciations of "either". There is no reason for an I to follow the E if the E is said short. Since simply dropping the I would produce "hefer", which would lead many people to believe it is pronounced with a long-E (hée.fer). But if we simply double the following-F, a typical way of showing that a vowel is short (affable, buffer, differ), the sound becomes clear: "heffer".

Sunday, August 6, 2006: "shapperone" for "chaperon/e"

Sunday's a good day for this word, which has two traditional spellings, both foolish.

There is no CH-sound (as in church) in this word. Rather, the sound is SH, so should be spelled SH.

The other point of difference between the two established spellings is whether there is or is not an E at the end. RON is a familiar name, pronounced as it looks: ron. Of a long list of words that end in -RON, only "chaperon" takes a long-O. The others all take short-O or schwa, except derivatives of the insanely spelled (or pronounced) "iron" (andiron, flatiron) — and they don't take long-O either. That's why people added the silent-E, so people could know the O is to be pronounced long. Of course, in this preposterously spelled language, the form without the final-E is "preferred", for being the original.

Well, I don't prefer it, and most people who want to know how to spell words they hear don't prefer it. We should reform this word so people know how to start it and end it: "shapperone".

Wensday thru Saturday, August 2-5, 2006:
"monoggamy" for "monogamy"

"pollyandry" for "polyandry"
"polijinny" for "polygyny"
"wedlok" for "wedlock"

A fellow spelling reformer, "Rhode...",* suggested several marriage-related terms, one of which, "polygamy", we have already dealt with, on March 9th of this year, as "poliggamy". "Wedlok" had been suggested (by "Bookk...") but not yet used. So let's deal with all these terms at once.

"Monogamy" is seen by some new readers as món.oe.gàa.mee. Doubling the G makes plain at once that the O before it is short and that the word's stress falls on the second syllable, not the first.

"Poly" can be read póe.lee, as in "roly-poly". GYN can be pronounced with a hard-G and long-I sound, as in "gynecologist". New readers could put those two things together and see "polygyny" as póe.lee.gìe.nee.

And we don't need a C in "wedlock", because it has nothing to do with the ordinary word "lock". Rather, -LOC, the first spelling, is simply a 'verbal noun suffix' in Old English.** So we could drop either the K, leaving the Old English form  "wedloc", or drop the C, leaving the Middle English form "wedlok". Neither form is found in ordinary English words, the one -LOC in the entire language being found in "bloc", a relatively recent borrowing (1905 or so) from French. I prefer K for the K-sound, which is the more recent form (Middle English rather than Old English), but if people in general were to prefer -C, I'd be OK with that too.

So this marriage block is: "monoggamy", "pollyandry", "polijinny", and "wedlok".

* Unless they request identification by full name, I acknowledge suggestions from readers with a truncated form of their email address to protect their privacy.

** This infor derives from my Random House Electronic Dictionary.

Due to this grouping, we have no Food Friday this week. Think of it as slimming.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006: "peeyan" for "paean" / "pean"

Today's word is one of those literary terms most people first encounter in reading and have no idea how to say, because the spelling is nuts. The word actually has two spellings, both of which are nuts.

The first, "paean", looks as tho it should be said páe.yan, like a careless pronunciation of "paying", with N in place of the NG-sound. The second, "pean", looks like one syllable, parallel to "bean". Wrong, in both cases.

The word is actually pronounced pée.yan, so let's write it that way: "peeyan".

Munday, July 31, 2006: "torchur" for "torture"

The letter group TURE is ambiguous. It usually takes the pronunciation cher (English, not French), which could also be written chur, but sometimes chuer (for instance, "mature" as most people say it, "caricature" as many people say it); tuer or toor ("couture", "tureen"; "mature" as some people say it). If it were consistently pronounced, we need not revise it, even tho it employs TU to express the CH-sound. But since TURE is both irrational and inconsistent, let's gradually replace all such letter sequences that don't sound like tuer, starting with this word.

"Torcher" could mislead the reader into thinking "one who sets a torch to" or "carries a torch". ER would be seen as a suffix rather than an integral part of the word. UR, however, is not a standard suffix, so would more likely be understood to be integral to the word: "torchur".

Sunday, July 30, 2006: "shicanery" for "chicanery"

Dictionaries admit of two pronunciations for "chicanery", one of which is the familiar version with an SH-sound at the beginning, the other of which has a CH-sound (as in church) at the start. I don't believe it. I have never in my life — and I am 61 (and 1/2) years old — heard anyone say chi.ká Ever.

Chi.ká is plainly a spelling-pronunciation, one of those insane errors that our present idiotic spelling "system" causes people to make. Spelling should show people, unambiguously, how to pronounce each and every word they encounter on a page. Altho such a standard can be met only by systematic phonetic reform of English spelling, we can come a lot closer with minor changes than traditional spelling manages to do.

In the case of today's word, a one-letter substitution would provide clear guidance to all readers that the word starts with an SH-sound, not a CH-sound, because SH is never pronounced CH, even tho CH is, astoundingly, all too often pronounced SH!: "shicanery".

Saturday, July 29, 2006: "boozhy" for "bougie"

I had my landline telephone repaired today and, in chatting, the repairman said some of his friends call him "bougie" (pronounced búe.zhee) because he likes wine, plays golf, and skis. (He's black.) I wondered how one spells that slang expression, which derives from "bourgeois", which I offered here May 26th as "boorzhwah".

I found it in the Urban Dictionary as "bougie". However, there is another word, a medical term, of the same spelling, that has two pronunciations, one búe.zhee and the other búe.jee. ("A slender, flexible, cylindrical instrument that is inserted into a bodily canal, such as the urethra [or rectum], to dilate, examine, or medicate." ) The present spelling is the French name an Algerian city* from which, apparently, a "fine wax" used in making or placing suppositories derived. It has two pronunciations in English because some readers see "bougie" as French, having a ZH-sound, while others see it as English, having a soft-G-sound. That's what happens when you have irrational spellings, which is what this project is all about.

Let's leave the medical term as it is but reform the slang term (which has only one pronunciation) so people can know both how to spell it when they hear it and say it when they see it .

Changing the G to ZH is not enuf, because we would be left with "bouzhie", which could be read as bóu.zhi (rhyming with "cow's eye"). So we need to replace the OU with something and the IE with Y, which will not be misread.

"Buzhy" is very unclear. It could be read as bú (like "busby") or bó (like "bushy", since in this website's pronunciation key, OO always represents the short-OO sound, as in "good" or "push"). "Buezhy" might be read as byúe.zhee. So let's replace BOU with BOO, as in bamboo: "boozhy".

* France used to control Algeria.

Friday, July 28, 2006: "lottay" for "latte"

The word for this Food Friday entered English so recently that it's not in either of my electronic dictionaries. It is, however, in as a homonym for the longer "caffe latte", an Italian term for "strong espresso coffee with a topping of frothed steamed milk".

We have already dealt with "cafe" or "café", the French version of Italian "caffe", and offered "caffay". That spelling might also do for most people who use the longer expression "caffe latte". Those who pronounce "caffe" with a broad-A might write "coffay".

Most people drop the "caffe" entirely, however, leaving "latte" as a word they feel sufficient in itself. "Latte" is much like our word "lotto", so can be spelled in much the same way: "lottay".

Tuesday, Wensday, and Thursday, July 25, 26 and 27, 2006:
"iskemea" for "ischemia"

"skema" for "schema"
"skematic" for "schematic"

I was typing a medical document in the office Tuesday nite when the word "ischemia" jumped out at me as needing reform. My Random House Unabridged says it means a "local deficiency of blood supply produced by vasoconstriction or local obstacles to the arterial flow". Altho this project generally deals only with words in general use, we are becoming an increasingly med-savvy society as more and more people are treated by advanced medicine, so it is inevitable that we deal with some medical terms.

I have already offered "skeme" for "scheme", but there are three other terms we can dispense with, of the same sort. "Ischemia" is one. "Schema" is another. And "schematic" is the third. All require the same change, of CH to K, since it precedes an E so can't simply be changed to C: "scema" and such would be seen as having only an S-sound.

"Skema" and "skematic" should be seen as unexceptionable. Some people might think it is enuf to change "ischemia" to "iskemia", since there are a host of -IA endings pronounced -ee.a. But there are also a host of words in which IA has a long-I sound (dial, diagram, diaphragm, iambic, miasma, triangle). So why not go the extra step of replacing an I that sounds like an E with an E (that sounds like an E)?

Our midweek threesome is thus: "iskemea", "skema", and "skematic".

Munday, July 24, 2006: "fishur" for "fissure"

I sometimes have to check my electronic dictionaries to reassure myself that the ridiculous present spelling of a word offered for change is real. This is one of those times. Yes, there really is a word speller "fissure" but pronounced "fisher". There shouldn't be.

The spelling "fisher" is already taken, so to avoid creating a new homograph, let's use a U in the second syllable, which will suggest that that syllable is an integral part of the word, not an agent-ending added to "fish": "fishur".

My thanks to "Dogs..." for this suggestion.

Sunday, July 23, 2006: "isoffagus" for "esophagus"/"oesophagus"

The Middle English spelling of this word was "isophagus", which is a sensible spelling for us to use, since the E is not pronounced like an E, long or short (except perhaps by such people as use the OE- variant spelling). Since I is often pronounced long-E in traditional spelling (patriot, academia, bikini), anyone who wishes to use a long-E in this word can justify that pronunciation even if there is an I at the beginning rather than E.

The PH is irrational, so must be replaced by F, whose sound it (mis)represents. But one F would leave the sound of the O unclear. Doubling the F would be the conventional way of showing that the O is short. Happily, it also cues the reader to put the word's stress on the second syllable. So let's do that: "isoffagus".

Friday and Saturday, July 21 and 22, 2006:
"bagle" for "bagel"

"barozh" for "barrage"
(most meanings)

Let's deal with a couple of words in which new readers can have problems with the letter G — which has too many sounds, as makes predicting the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word somewhere between difficult and impossible.

"Bagel" (for this week's Food Friday) is one of the oddest words in English, for having a hard-G where almost everyone would expect soft-G. Compare rage, garbage, angel. Few G's before E are hard in any location, tho most that do exist tend to occur at the beginning of the word (e.g., gear, gelding, geezer, geyser). We do have some proper nouns like "Rangel" (a Congressman from New York) and "Wrangel" (a large island in Russia's Arctic Ocean territory) that take hard-G in the same letter sequence found in "bagel", but no common word in which G-E midword takes a hard-G.

There's a quick fix for "bagel", simply to flip the E and L: "bagle". Compare angel as against angle.

"Barrage" is one spelling for two different pronunciations, the one everyone is familiar with, which contains a French-G, which we represent in English by ZH, and one that is pronounced just as the word looks: báa.raj, for a specialized term from civil engineering that refers to an obstruction placed in a waterway to increase its depth. We can leave that spelling for that use. But the word most of us know should be respelled.

Actually, there are two pronunciations with a ZH-sound. By far most speakers put the stress on the second syllable: ba.rózh. Some Brits, however, put the stress on the first syllable, báa.rozh, which alters the quality of the first-A from schwa to short-A. Altho some people might argue that that requires the R to be doubled to prevent misreading the first syllable as being pronounced the same as the smaller word identical with it, "bar" (bor), (1) that doesn't necessarily follow and (2) doubling the R would not automatically help. Baritone, guarantee and aromatic have short-A before a single-R, while warranty, quarrel, and bizarre all have double-R after a broad-A (or short-O: same sound).

So there's no reason not to use a single spelling, "barozh", for both stress patterns. If Brits were not happy with that, they could just double the R ("barrozh") and that would join the list of (minor) differences between North American and British spelling.

These G-words can thus be clarified for new readers: "bagle" and "barozh".

My thanks to "Box..." for "bagle".

Thursday, July 20, 2006: "casm" for "chasm"

Last nite in the office I overheard a conversation between a proofreader and word processor about crazy misuses of language. The proofreader said she actually heard someone pronounce the CH in "chasm" with the CH-sound (as in church). Let's fix that today, so no one else makes that mistake.

We can just drop the H, and leave "casm", as is "sarcasm". That may strike some reformers as less than ideal, because it uses S for the Z-sound. But I suspect that the general public will resist going further than that, because we have lots of -sm's, especially -ism's", and people learn early how to pronounce them. So let's content ourselves with that: "casm".

Wensday, July 19, 2006: "nickers" for "knickers"

In channel-surfing late last nite I chanced across an Oprah show in which two British women were doing makeovers. One of them referred to a woman's underpants as "knickers". So let's address this word, which has gone out of fashion in the United States (where it was used mainly for an antiquated type of boys' short pants that gathered just below the knee) except for the expression, "Don't get your knickers in an uproar". The initial-K is silent, so doesn't need to be there at all: "nickers".

Tuesday, July 18, 2006: "nusance" for "nuisance"

We don't need an I in this word. All these extra, pointless, silent letters are what today's word means: a "nusance".

Munday, July 17, 2006: "diat" for "diet"

Today's word is always apropos in the overfed West.

The present spelling looks like one syllable, die + T. It's not pronounced that way. Rather, it is pronounced like dial, so let's spell it that way: "diat".

My thanks to "Clap..." for this suggestion.

Sunday, July 16, 2006: "mellancolly" / "mellancolya" for "melancholy" / "melancholia"

The sunny weather in much of the U.S. today, which tends to fite this phenomenon, seems an opportune time to reform the words for it without bringing people down.

"Melancholy" and its more medical version, "melancholia", are spelled misleadingly in a number of ways.

First, there is no CH-sound (as in church) in either word. So, let's drop the H from both.

Second, both traditional spellings show single consonants after short vowels, which will lead some new readers to see the vowels as long, not short.

There is the additional question of how to show the sound of the ending of "melancholia", given it has two pronunciations, -ee.ya and -ya.

There is a slite risk of confusing the issue of syllabic stress by doubling the L's after both the E and the O in "melancholy", but we do sometimes have to rely on people's innate sense of how the language works. Since "melancholy" is a noun and adjective, it takes stress near the beginning of the word. That stress position in "melancholia" too is made plainer in doubling the first-L, while the long quality of the O is shown clearly by not doubling the L after the O.

As for the present -IA in "melancholia", that letter combination is sometimes pronounced with a long-I (iambic, dial), and people shouldn't have to remember a rule, that in final position it is usually pronounced with a long-E or Y-sound. And which of its final-position sounds does it take here? How do you know? You don't, because there are two common pronunciations, -ee.ya and -ya. Respelling the ending -EA wouldn't suffice to show both pronunciations. But writing -YA would.

 So today's twofer is: "mellancolly" and "mellancolya".

Saturday, July 15, 2006: "senchery" for "century"

Altho one might be tempted to reform only the end of this word and leave the C at the beginning to cue the reader that the word somehow relates to 100, there would be no T in the reformed spelling, since the sound is CH, not TU. Without a T, there's no need for a C, since "cenchery" bears no obvious relationship to "cent", "percent" or any other word suggestive of 100. So we might as well use the letter most commonly thought of when one hears an S-sound, the S: "senchery".

Friday, July 14, 2006: "duzhure" for "du jour"

Because this is both Food Friday and Bastille Day, let's reform a French food term we often see. "Du jour", most commonly seen in the phrase "soup(e) du jour", means* "as prepared on the particular day; of the kind being served today". Its use has been broadened outside of food, both in the sense of something specific to that day ("Hoax du Jour", "Hunk du Jour", false accusation du jour) and in the sense of impermanent (buzzword, rumor, or science du jour).

We are concerned here mainly with pronunciation, and whether new readers (a) can be clear as to the pronunciation just from the spelling and (b) can know how to spell it just from hearing it, or from remembering how they pronounced it when they saw it in print. "Du jour" passes neither test.

There is no J-sound nor OU-sound in the "jour" part, which should rhyme with "our". The U in the first element is often schwaed, being reduced in quality from long-U to short-OO or even less-distinct a sound. The spelling plainly looks foreign, so some readers will be inclined to assign French values to the letters.** But the term has long been present in English, so takes ordinary English sounds.

We also don't need this one inseparable term (you can't use either "du" or "jour" by itself) to be two words.

Taking all these points into consideration, a new spelling suggests itself that (1) closes up the wordspace; (2) retains the U after the D, as allows readers to supply whatever sound they use for that; but (3) replaces the misleading J with the correct ZH and (4) replaces the OU with U-E in the standard pattern, vowel/consonant/silent-E, that so often marks a long vowel in traditional spelling: "duzhure".

* Definition from Random House Unabridged Electronic Dictionary.

** The U in the first element would in French take that peculiar sound that I have seen perhaps best described as being an English long-E said thru lips formed to say the UR in "burn".

My thanks to Music… for today's suggestion.

Thursday, July 13, 2006: "teez" for "tease"

The educational Establishment pretends that fundamental spelling reform is unnecessary because students can learn patterns that they can take  from a familiar word and apply to unfamiliar words. What they refuse to acknowledge is that multitudinous patterns conflict, so applying one pattern to two words may produce completely erroneous pronunciations.

Today's word is an example of that. -EASE can be said as in please or as in lease.  The two words are only one letter different but sound different. A new learner has no way of knowing just from the spelling which pronunciation, with a Z-sound or an S-sound, to apply to new words of similar pattern: disease, decease, decrease, ease, increase, unease, release; easy, greasy — and don't forget the scientific term protease, which  takes neither of those pronunciations but another altogether! This is why "phonics" cannot work. Phonetics, however, can work, but only in reforming spelling, not trying to make sense from the current chaos.

One is tempted to use -EEZE, on the familiar pattern of freeze, squeeze, and sneeze, for all the words that are now written -EASE but pronounced with a Z-sound, starting with today's choice (which provides a foretaste of future such words). But why would we need a final-E? The EE in itself shows a long-E. There's no reason to put another E into this word. That's overkill. So let's just drop it, and save ourselves a letter: "teez".

Wensday, July 12, 2006: "malvazeeya" for "malvazia" / "malvasia"

We have a few words left for our "Wine Wensday" feature, and this name of a type of grape used in making malmsey (a sweet, fortified wine originally from Greece but now made mostly on Portugal's Madeira island) is one of them. Its present spellings suggest a pronunciation of maal.vae.zha, but it is actually A conventional but unambiguous way of representing that would be: "malvazeeya".

Tuesday, July 11, 2006: "burbon" for "bourbon"

A friend of this site from Japan suggested last week that I use this word for July 4th, a day of celebrations when more than a little bourbon might be hoisted, but other demands kept me from updating this site until Wensday, with three similar words. (I offer more than one word to catch up when I fall behind.) So today will stand in as "Booze Tuesday", an occasional SSWD feature for the numerous alcohol-related words on our future-words list.

There is no OU-sound in "bourbon". Rather, the vowel sound of the first syllable is that which is most commonly spelled ER (iceberg) but also sometimes UR (burn), IR (bird), even OR (word). To reduce that kind of pointless, unphonetic variation is why this site exists.

Happily, there is a quick, simple fix for this word. We just drop the first-O and leave the U, and, voilà!, it's phonetic: "burbon".

My thanks to "yaora..." for today's suggestion.

Munday, July 10, 2006: "zar" for "czar", "tsar" and "tzar"

We don't need a C before the Z in the most common spelling of this word, which started its existence in English merely as the name of the Emperor of Russia but has over time come to mean any imperial, or imperious, executive, especially someone assigned to coordinate multiple government departments in a given effort, such as "drug czar".

There are three spellings (tho "tzar" is almost never seen, at least in the U.S.) and two pronunciations for this one word. Either pronunciation can apply to any spelling (that is, "czar" can be pronounced as tho written "tsar", and "tsar" can be pronounced as tho written "czar"). We don't need that kind of pointless variation. Even if we respell all three in only one way, people who insist on saying "tsar" no matter the spelling will continue to do that, which they already do when they see "czar", despite the fact that there is no T in C-Z-A-R. Everybody else will be guided to a single unified pronunciation: "zar".

Sunday, July 9, 2006: "solliss" for "solace"

The traditional spelling of today's word looks as tho it should be pronounced as a phrase of the two smaller words within it, so and lace. Compare noplace. That is misleading. Unfortunately, it is not possible with O before L to be absolutely clear as to the sound of the O, because O before one L can be pronounced long or short (Polish, politics, polish), and O before two L's can also be pronounced long or short (poll, doll). This kind of unresolvable ambiguity in traditional spelling is why English needs a systematic spelling reform. There are just some sounds that no present pattern will make clear. I think "solliss" is more likely to be read right than would be "soliss".

At least the misleading -ACE can be replaced unambiguously. We can take (you guessed it) "solace" in that: "solliss".

Saturday, July 8, 2006: "gastly" / "agast" for "ghastly"/ "aghast"

The H in these paired words may once have been pronounced, in the sense that hundreds of years ago the GH might have been said something like the CH in the Scottish pronunciation of loch. But it does not have any effect on the sound of these words now, which are said as tho there is no H. So there shouldn't be an H, in either word: "gastly", "agast".

My thanks to "Clap..." for "gastly".

Friday, July 7, 2006: "marjarin" for "margarine"

This Food Friday, let's address one of the oddest spellings in the entire English language. There are two things wrong with the bizarre traditional spelling for this butter-substitute. First, a G before A is pronounced "soft", which is extremely rare and violates one of the fundamental understandings of how you know when to say a hard-G (before A, O, and U) as against when to say a soft-G (before E and I). So the G has got to go. Second, the standard spelling has a silent-E at the end, which cues the reader to pronounce the I before the N as long. But the actual pronunciation is short! So the silent-E has got to go. Put these two changes together and we get this sensible spelling: "marjarin".

Tuesday-Thursday, July 4-6, 2006:
"comprize" for "comprise"

"compromize" for "compromise"
"despize" for "despise"

We have, mid-week, another of those little groups of words that require similar reforms, in this case to differentiate them from others of similar pattern but pronounced differently. -ISE has an S, so should be pronounced with an S-sound, not a Z-sound, and it is, in words like concise, precise, and paradise. In "comprise", "compromise", and "despise", however, the S takes a Z-sound. Since we're not going to change the pronunciation, the only way we're going to have the sound and spelling accord is by changing the spelling: "comprize", "compromize", and "despize".

My thanks to "Music..." for "compromize".

Monday, July 3, 2006: "acord/ing/ly" for "accord/ing/ly"

We don't need two C's in this inflected trio of words. Indeed, to double the C suggests (1) that the A is short, whereas it actually represents a schwa, and (2) that the word's stress falls on the first syllable, when it actually falls on the second. If we simply drop the second-C, we will naturally pronounce all these words right — and save a letter: "acord/ing/ly".

My thanks to "Firewall..." for this suggestion.

Saturday and Sunday, July 1 and 2, 2006:
"probossis" for "proboscis"
"omnishence" for "omniscience"

See discussion at "-SCI- Week", the top item in the Second Quarter 2006 archive.

Naturally, "omniscient" also changes, to "omnishent".

Click here for today's suggestion.
Click here to return to the archive index.

Click here for a brief statement of the principles that influence the selection of words.

SSWD is a project of L. Craig Schoonmaker , Newark, New Jersey, United States, creator of Fanetik: Reformed (Phonetic) Spelling — at Least for Teaching. For information about other ways to change irrational spellings, search the Internet for "spelling reform".

Comments? Suggestions? Please contact our webmaster: