Simpler Spelling
Word of the Day
July-September 2008

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 the principles that govern the selection of words.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008: "ontraprenur" for "entrepreneur"

This word is commonly (mis)pronounced with a long-U in the last syllable, tho the pronunciation favored by educated speakers has an ER sound, as in teacher, except stressed. That sound is also spelled, in some words, with IR (bird, third) or UR (surge, urgent), but ER is far and away the most common way to write it (per/verse, bigger, better, ergonomic, and on and on). Thus one is tempted to offer the most common spelling for the last syllable of today's word, that is, to just drop the U and leave ER. However, that would forbid the pronunciation with a U-sound (be it long-U or the U in push and pull, which is also the short-OO sound, as found in words like good and book). In that UR is indeed another way the ER-sound is written; and a U is in the present spelling, so we need only drop the E in the last syllable; and a U would permit a U-sound in the last syllable, UR seems the better choice.

Curiously, the initial EN- is always pronounced in the French fashion, like our word on, except that some people give it a bit of a French nasalization. That is, "entrepreneur" has not (yet) followed envelope and enclave into bifurcation, with some people continuing to use a French-style pronunciation, on-, and others saying en-. We can prevent that from happening, and confusing readers, especially outside English-speaking countries, simply by changing the EN- to ON-.

The vowel sound in the second syllable, -TRE-, is a schwa. Tho any vowel can be given a schwa pronunciation, the most common spelling for schwa is A, so let's use that here, in that we're changing other parts of the word anyway, and there's another E mid-word (-PRE-) that is pronounced somewhere between an A-type schwa and a regular short-E.

Put this all together and you get: "ontraprenur".

Munday, September 29, 2008: "delite" for "delight"

IGH is one of the most peculiar spellings in all of English, and makes absolutely no sense to modern speakers. The GH was once pronounced, probably like the CH in German ich, but has not been pronounced in centuries. If there were no other way to spell a long-I, we would have to put up with such nonsense, but fortunately there is a very common way to spell long-I in such a word, by using the "silent-E" convention after an intervening vowel: I_E. The E is thus not really silent, but is part of a digraph, IE, that is sometimes spelled without interruption, especially in final position (tie, pie, lie). In the middle of a word, however, IE may be seen as ambiguous, representing two adjoining vowels (diet, quiet, acquiesce) or a long-E (field, proclivities). Given such possibilities of confusion, many words that end with a long vowel before a consonant use the interrupted-digraph formula of vowel/consonant/silent-E. Let's use it here: "delite".

Sunday, September 28, 2008: "chaliss" for "chalice"

ICE is ambiguous. As a word to itself and as part of words like nice, device, and entice, it has a long-I. In other words, such as crevice, edifice, and justice, it represents a short-I sound. In today's word, there is a particularly unfortunate letter sequence, -LICE, which is a word to itself for an unpleasant parasitic insect, entirely out of keeping with the larger word's sacred sense. Let's replace the ambiguous -ICE with the unambiguous -ISS: "chaliss".

Saturday, September 27, 2008: "baizh" for "beige"

GE is ordinarily pronounced either as in get ("hard"-G, G's own, unique sound) or gesture ("soft"-G, the J-sound), and only rarely as in today's word (and, for instance, genre; the ZH-sound). In final position, GE is most commonly pronounced with a J-sound, occasionally with a ZH-sound, and only very rarely with a G-sound (renege).

It's really hard to justify different pronunciations for the same letters or letter combinations in different positions within a word, and there is no way a reader can know, just from seeing, whether a final -GE takes a J-sound or ZH-sound: collage and cortege (ZH), college and courage (J). Even when words are exactly parallel in spelling, the -GE can take different pronunciations: corsage (ZH) and cordage (J). Indeed, different people say corsage differently, most with ZH, some with J.

People really do want spelling to tell them how to pronounce every word.

Today's word has another ambiguity, the pronunciation of the EI. The most common pronunciations for that letter combination are long-E and long-I, as in the two pronunciations of either and neither. But here, the EI takes neither of those pronunciations, but long-A! Who would guess that? Long-A within a word is commonly spelled AI (paid, raisin, baize).  So let's use that.

Putting these fixes together, we get: "baizh".

Friday, September 26, 2008: "airate" for "aerate"

Why should we try to maintain an AE in this word, when the sound is air? We gave up on "aeroplane" and moved to "airplane". Let's give up on "aerate": "airate".

Thursday, September 25, 2008: "wahn" for "wan"

"Wan" should rhyme with van, ran, and tan. That is, it should have a short-A sound. It does not, but rhymes with con, don, yon, and anon, with a short-O sound (or "broad"-A, the same sound). We cannot, however, simply replace the A with O, because there is already a word won, the past tense of win, which is pronounced, bizarrely, wun. So we can't simply change "wan" to "won". Won is a very frequently used word, as is another word of the same form, son, which rhymes with it, so we can't even write "wan" as "wonn", because most readers will probably see it as won with an extra N but still pronounced with a short-U sound. Short of a systematic, radically phonetic respelling scheme, then, we cannot simply bump present won to wun and plug in "won" for "wan", because people won't know whether they are seeing the old W-O-N (past tense of win) or the new one (which, to make things worse, is also pronounced wun!). We have one alternative left, to write AH for the broad-A (as in ah, brahmin, and mahjong). That should work. "Wan" is an unusual word. AH within a word is unusual, but certainly not "un-English". An unusual spelling befits an unusual word, and AH tells the reader how to pronounce this word: "wahn".

Wensday, September 24, 2008: "veeza" for "visa"

There are two things wrong with the traditional spelling of today's word. First, the I has neither of I's own sounds, long or short, but represents a long-E sound. Second, the S is supposed to take a Z-sound, but some people see it as taking its own, S-sound, as in the female personal name "Lisa" or the name of a gripping device, vise (which also has a long-I, in a word almost identical to "visa"). This has led to the spelling-pronunciation vé

Fortunately, there are quick fixes to both problems: substitute EE for the I and Z for the S: "veeza".

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2008: "eunity" for "unity"

UN- is ambiguous, in that it is a common prefix of negation that can occur before either a consonant or a vowel (unclear, unambiguous) but does not change in pronunciation, having always a short-U. In "unity", the UN- is not the prefix, but how is the reader to know? The sound of the U is long, with an initial Y-glide, and a simple way to show that sound in traditional spelling is EU-: "eunity".

Munday, September 22, 2008: "theze" for "these"

-SE is ambiguous, sometimes taking an S-sound (geese, loose, precise), sometimes a Z-sound (cheese, choose, revise). This is a perfect example of why English is so hard to learn and use, especially to people who do not live in an English-speaking country. Even in the letter sequence T-H-E-S-E the S is ambiguous, because in the plural of thesis (theses), it takes an S-sound (tthée.seez), whereas when it stands alone, as today's word, a demonstrative pronoun or adjective, it takes a Z-sound (theez). If the sound is Z, let's write a Z: "theze".

Sunday, September 21, 2008: "sizzijee" for "syzygy"

Altho "syzygy" is one of the oddest-looking words in English, what it relates to is not unusual: the alignment of three astronomical bodies, such as the sun, earth, and moon at a new moon and full moon, that is, twice a month.

The pronunciation is simple, síz.i.jèe, but the occurrence of three Y's confuses the issue. The first two are pronounced short-I but the third, long-E.* Y can also, and often does, represent a long-I sound (hybrid, fly, defy), so we should clarify the sounds here by substituting I's for the short-I sounds and substituting EE for the long-E sound at the end. With a familiar word in frequent use, we might get by with -Y. But with a word as little-known as "syzygy", it's better to use -EE.

The G is also ambiguous, because G before Y is not necessarily "soft" (the J-sound). For instance, in bogy, fogy, and porgy, the G is "hard" (G's own sound); in singsongy, the G is part of the NG-sound, neither "hard" nor "soft".  J, however, is unambiguous, so let's use that.

To show the first-I short, we need to double the Z, as in dizzy, fizzy, and tin lizzie. We do not also have to double the J, because the double-Z will signal the reader to stress the first syllable, which would make a long-I in the second syllable most unlikely. In like fashion, even tho many words with -EE take stress on the last syllable, that is not always the case (employee, banshee, chickadee), and the double-Z earlier in the reformed spelling of today's word would cue the reader to stress the first syllable, not the last: "sizzijee".

* In some British speech, the sound of -Y approaches, but does not equal, a regular short-I. See the phonetics of "silly" at the Cambridge Dictionaries Online, and note that the short-I and -Y take different symbols.

Saturday, September 20, 2008: "reezon" for "reason"

The main thing wrong with today's word is the S for a Z-sound. But as long as we're changing the S to the Z it should be, why not change the ambiguous EA (bean, Sean, O'Shea, bread, creation) to unambiguous EE?:  "reezon".

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

Friday, September 19, 2008: "quiat" for "quiet"

How is a reader supposed to know that IE represents two syllables in words like "quiet" and "diet"? "Diet", for instance, looks like die with a T at the end, as should be pronounced diet (one syllable), parallel to died. And thus "quiet" should be said exactly like "quite". IA, by contrast, is certain to be seen, within a word, as representing two syllables, as in dial and trial. So let's use that: "quiat".

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

Thursday, September 18, 2008: "parradime" for "paradigm"

There is a silent-G in this word. Why? Why do we put up with such idiocy? Let us jettison this preposterous G and instead add an E after the M to show the I to be long. That "silent-E" is not exactly silent but is a standard way English uses to indicate a long vowel before the preceding consonant. That may be an odd way to do things, but that is the way English does things.

The other issue with today's word is the AR, which is often pronounced with a "broad"-A (or short-O, same sound), as in bar, car, and star, and sometimes with a flat-A (wary, scary, nary). The sound most people use in "paradigm", however, is short-A, which is often shown by ARR: arrow, narrative, barrel. That spelling is not completely unambiguous, but allows both a broad-A and flat-A in some words (such as warrant and warranty), so permits the pronunciation with flat-A, tho indicates to the rest of us that the sound is short-A.

Putting these two changes together, we get: "parradime".

Opponents of spelling reform may insist that we can't drop the G because the adjective derived from "paradigm" is "paradigmatic", in which the G is actually pronounced. That is no justification for keeping a G where it is not pronounced. Related words sometimes do simply take drastically different forms. For instance, "Glaswegian" is the name for a person from "Glasgow". Should we write it "GlasGOwegian" but not pronounce the GO? How about the words be and was? Should we write"bewas" (and not pronounce the BE) so people will know that was is (another form of "be") related to be? No. If we retain the form "paradigmatic" for the adjective, and pronounce that G, that's fine for the adjective. But the adjective must not keep the noun in thrall.

Wensday, September 17, 2008: "aclock" for "o'clock"

O'- is misleading, since it begins many Irish surnames and is pronounced long-O (O'Reilly, O'Brien, O'Shaughnessy), and derives from Gaelic for "grandson" or "male descendant". In the word "o'clock", the O' stands in for of, and is pronounced as a schwa, an unstressed version of the short-U in of. A schwa in initial position is very frequently written A (ajar, afoot, about, around, asea, and on and on). So let's use that.

An apostrophe within a word is unusual, and ordinarily indicates the possessive form (arm's-length transaction, cat's-paw) or a contraction (can't, don't). Tho "o'clock" is a contraction, of "of the clock" or, arguably, "on the clock", it is not thought of as such. Let's just drop the apostrophe.

Some spelling reformers might like to drop the C before the K as well, in that the word is invariable, so will never take a suffix as would make the sound of the O before the K unclear: no "acloking" nor "acloker", so the second-C is superfluous. That would probably, however, stiffen resolve among resisters of spelling reform as a step too far, in breaking "aclok" apart from "clock", which is the essence of the word. So let's put up with one phonetically unnecessary letter and change only the O and apostrophe: "aclock".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008: "nercher" for "nurture"

-TURE is an odd and ambiguous way to spell what sounds like -cher. The 'logic' behind the spelling is that the T combines with the Y-glide of a long-U to form a sort of CH-sound, but the U does not represent a long-U sound here, so the reasoning is void. The sound of the -URE is the sound most commonly written ER (teacher, certain, person). That sound, in turn, is the same sound as in the first syllable, now spelled UR. It's pretty hard to justify two different spellings for the same sound in the same word, and since ER is by far the more common spelling, it is the better choice, so that people who hear the word will guess that both syllables contain ER: "nercher".

Munday, September 15, 2008: "majjic" for "magic"

GI is ambiguous, sometimes being pronounced with G's own, unique sound, also called "hard"-G (girl, give, begin), but other times with J's sound, also called "soft"-G (giant, agility, egregious). And a single consonant is not a solid cue to giving a vowel before that consonant, its short sound. In the case of today's word, for instance, the A in "magic" is short, but the usual pronunciation for the word it derives from, magus, and especially its plural, magi, has a long-A.

The customary way to show a short vowel clearly is to double the following consonant, whatever it may be. But to do that with today's word would produce "maggic", which would likely be pronounced with a (hard) G-sound. Once we substitute J, to show the word's correct, J, sound, we can then double the J to show the A to be short: "majjic".

Sunday, September 14, 2008: "led" for (the metal) "lead"

There comes a time to admit that a battle is lost, and simply throw in the towel. The attempt to distinguish "led", the past tense of the verb "to lead" (which in the present is pronounced with a long-E, leed) and the noun for a heavy metal, spelled "lead" but pronounced with a short-E, led, has failed. All it has done is to contaminate the past tense of the verb, and cause many people to write it "lead" even tho they pronounce it led. We can keep trying to keep these forms separate, but will never universally succeed, in part because of the example of "read", which is spelled the same but pronounced differently in the present and past tenses, reed and red. In essence, lead/led suffers from "read" (red) poisoning.

We could try to write the noun "ledd",* but people would have to think each time it comes up, "Now, which one takes the two D's?" We could try a mnemonic: the two D's make the word heavier, so that's the spelling for the heavy metal. But why bother? There are many words spelled and pronounced the same that mean entirely different things (a baseball bat, a flying bat; steer a car, an Angus steer). Let's just accept that keeping the two words distinct in spelling is not a fite worth fiting, and write both the noun and the past of the verb as: "led".

My thanks to "yaora..." for that suggestion.

Saturday, September 13, 2008: "nott" for "knot"

We can make today's word clearer but not shorter. That is, there is an insane silent-K at the beginning of the traditional spelling, which we need to get rid of. It wasn't always silent, but has been for centuries. Unfortunately, there is another word that sounds exactly the same but has a very different meaning, not, and that word is very frequent, so it would be most inadvisable simply to drop the K and change "knot" to "not". We can, however, double the -T, which is 'not' really superfluous because the double-T would distinguish two words, a worthy cause, while retaining complete phoneticity, in that in English, a doubled consonant is not said twice but only once. It's not even said for a longer period, as it might be in, for instance, Italian, or in adjoining English words, the first of which ends in the same consonant as the next word begins with: had done, up past, that time. The two T's in "nott" would 'not' be pronounced any differently than one, but would clarify for a reader that the word means to tie something rather than to negate something: "nott".

Tho a double-T is an uncommon spelling, it is certainly not "un-English", so doesn't "look funny" (boycott, putt, mitt, mutt): "nott".

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

Friday, September 12, 2008: "jambo/es" for "jambeau/x"

Today's word has two meanings, one for the part of a suit of armor (also called, in this sense, "greave") that protects the lower leg; the other for "a spikefish, Parahollardia lineata, found in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean".* In either case, its spelling is ambiguous.

It looks French, so you'd think that both the beginning and end would be pronounced in the French manner, the J as ZH and the -EAU as long-O. That's not the case. The J is pronounced in the English fashion, as in "just". The -EAU, however, is pronounced in the French fashion, as long-O, not as in the English word beautiful.

The plural is also unclear, in that in French, the -X is silent. In English, it is pronounced like a regular plural, with a Z-sound — which is normally written S, not Z. We should, perhaps, change that, but that goes beyond the scope of this project, which will not suggest Z for plurals.

There are two ways of making a plural with S, one with an E (as would make, here, "jamboes") and one without ("jambos"). Some words permit either: banjos, banjoes. What should we do here? -OS is problematic, because it is singular in words like ethos, bathos, pathos, asbestos, chaos, and kudos (which is also taken as a plural!). To avoid such confusion, let's use -ES.

To make plain that the word is pronounced jáam.boe in the singular, and jáamboez in the plural, we need merely change the -EAU to -O, and the -X to -ES: "jambo/es".

* From I don't know if this fish is used for food, but if it is, it is appropriate for Food Friday.

Thursday, September 11, 2008: "innvalid" for (the noun) "invalid"

The spelling "invalid" represents two distinct words, pronounced differently. As an adjective, it means "not valid". As a noun (which can be used as an adjective: "invalid coach"), it means someone who is sick or disabled. The adjective is pronounced in.vá; the noun, íìd.

Altho English does not generally show syllabic stress in spelling (tho some spellings do hint at stress; for instance, the suffice -ETTE is usually stressed), these words are so different in meaning that showing the distinction is important. Fortuitously, there are two spellings for the sounds of the first syllable (short-I followed by an N-sound), in and inn, so we can use those two pre-existing spellings to differentiate the two words. Also fortuitously, one of these pre-existing spellings involves a double-consonant, which is a common way of showing that a word's stress falls before that consonant cluster. Thus it makes perfect sense to use INN- for the first syllable of the noun, and so eliminate one needless homograph: "innvalid".

Wensday, September 10, 2008: "histerectomy" for "hysterectomy"

Y is a very poor and misleading spelling for a short-I sound. A reader should be able to rely on Y representing a long-I if it represents an I-sound at all: hyper, hydro, hypoglycemia. There is a second-Y in the traditional spelling of today's word, at the end, but that one represents a long-E sound, which we expect of a final-Y in such use. We should , however, be able to rely upon a Y early in a word having a long-I sound, as in the parallel word gynecology. We don't have to change the Y at the end, but we should change the Y toward the beginning: "histerectomy".

Tuesday, September 9, 2008: "galereeya" for "galleria"

In most English words that end in -IA, the word's stress falls elsewhere (cafetéria, bactéria, critéria). In "galleria", the primary stress falls on the I, which, however, is pronounced long-E!

The traditional spelling also includes, at the very beginning, two shorter words, one within the other, that are pronounced very differently from their sound in "galleria": gall and all. The vowel sound in both those words is AU (as in haul), but the sound in the first syllable of "galleria" is short-A (as in at). Short-A before L is one of several sounds that cannot be written unambiguously in traditional orthography ("T.O."), which is why many spelling reformers have concluded that nothing but a total redesign will really work. Short of radical respelling for the entire language to end all confusions, however, we can reduce the possibilities of confusion.

As regards short-A before L, a single-L is a more common and arguably clearer spelling (Al, alimony, alabaster) than double-L (allegory, allegation, alligator), but as you can see from these examples, neither spelling is completely consistent with the sound. Even a single-L can occur after an A that is given an AU-sound: already, alright, altho(ugh). The inclination to read any AL without a second-L as having a short-A, however, has given rise to the mispronunciation for albeit (another word for altho) as aal.bée.yit (a spelling-pronunciation: wrong) rather than aul.bée.yit (right). So let's use a single-L.

There's a problem there too, however, in that the letter E follows the L, which allows for the A to take not its short sound, not the AU-sound, but its long sound or, as more people say it before L, flat-A (as in ale, pale, and sale). Alas, you cannot write some sounds in T.O. completely unambiguously no matter what you do. You can at best merely reduce the possibilities of confusion.

In "galleria", if we show the stress and the correct long-E sound at the end of the word, we lessen the chances that the beginning of the word will be said wrong. Thus -EEYA increases the likelihood that the A will be read right before the single-L, and the E will be seen only as representing the sound of the second syllable, not also altering the sound of the A in the first syllable.

In any event, making plain the unusual stress pattern of this word is the most important change to make, and we can do that by converting the inconspicuous -IA to the conspicuous -EEYA: "galereeya".

Munday, September 8, 2008: "femminin" for "feminine"

There are two things wrong with the spelling of today's word. First, a single-M with an I following, renders the sound of the E unclear. It might be long (emit, academia, extremism); it might be short (emissary, academics, extremity). There's no way to know, as you can see from these examples. The exact same letter sequence in different words, even related words, can be pronounced differently. This is why the spelling of English has to be fundamentally reformed. Until that happens, however, we can still make minor changes to some words to make them clearer. The minor change we can make to the first part of today's word is to double the M, which will clearly indicate to the reader both that the E before it is short and that the word's stress falls on the first syllable, which may be very unclear in words of three or more syllables, especially to new readers in non-English-speaking countries.

The -INE is also unclear, especially in this word, which new readers might very well compare to feline, because they start and end the same way. But they are pronounced differently. In "feminine", the I toward the end is short; in feline, long. -INE can as well be pronounced with a long-E: chlorine, routine, amphetamine (as many people say it).  If we simply drop the -E in today's word, we clarify which of these common pronunciations applies.

Putting these two fixes together, we get a word that is no longer but much clearer: "femminin".

My thanks to "Wurdplay..." for suggesting this word, tho I selected a slitely different solution.

Sunday, September 7, 2008: "entrence" for "entrance" (entry)

Today's spelling, "entrance", applies to two very different words, one a noun pronounced én.trans, meaning entryway, the other a verb pronounced en.tráans, meaning to fascinate. The word that means to fascinate, plainly has an A-sound,* so that's the one that should keep that spelling. The noun could be thought of as "enter-ence" (comparable to other verb-to-noun formulations, like difference, preference, and reference). Unlike those words, the sounds in "entrance" are collapsed from three syllables to two. We can as well collapse the spelling, and show the pronunciation more clearly, as breaks apart this needless homonym into its two distinct parts by respelling the noun: "entrence".

* Most people say a short-A, as in "at"; others, in Britain and dialects influenced by Britain, say a broad-A as in "father". But in either case, the verb takes an A-sound.

Saturday, September 6, 2008: "dezzert" and "dizurt" for "desert"

The word "desert" is two words in one. The first, stressed on the first syllable, is a noun and adjective referring to a wasteland or, in the case of the phrase "desert isle", possibly unknown to outsiders and certainly unpopulated, for being thought too barren to support a community. The second word, ancestrally related to the first, is stressed on the second syllable and is a verb that means to abandon, especially in violation of a pledge.

In both words, the S represents a Z-sound, so should be replaced by at least one Z. Where the first syllable is stressed, and the vowel sound of the first syllable is short-E, a double-Z is needed, that will at once show that the E takes its short sound and suggest that the word's stress falls on the first syllable.

In the word where the second syllable is stressed, the vowel sound of the first syllable is short-I, and the Z-sound falls in the second syllable. If we write "dizert", some readers may misread the I_E as signalling a long-I sound. If we write a U in the second syllable (as in hurt, yogurt, furtive), we make it much less likely that the I will be read as long. So let's do that, even tho that makes it a bit harder for readers to guess the spelling on hearing the word pronounced. Still, if they initially write "dizert" and see that that could be pronounced with a long-I, they might well then guess that the second syllable contains a U, not E.

So today's one very-ambiguous spelling bifurcates into two much clearer spellings: "dezzert" and "dizurt".

My thanks to "Clap..." for "dezzert".

Friday, September 5, 2008: "sharcootery" and "sharcooteeyay" for "charcuterie" and "charcutier"

This Food Friday, let's fix two words for "a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes; also : the products sold in such a shop"* ("charcuterie") and the person who runs such an establishment ("charcutier"). These were originally French words, so take a French pronunciation for the CH, which is the same as English-SH. Let's change it to CH.

They also, in the second syllable, take a long-U without an initial Y-glide, which is a little surprising, since the actual French sound, which does not exist in English, is perhaps closer to a long-U with a Y-glide. In any case, the Y-glide is absent from both these words, so rather than write a U in that syllable, we should write OO, in order that the reader not be tempted by the presence of the letter sequence -CUTE- to think it is pronounced like the ordinary English word "cute", and so insert a Y-glide that doesn't belong there.

The -IE in the first word takes a long-E sound, as it does at the end of many English words, not the long-I of pie. But because -IE is ambiguous there, let's use the less-ambiguous spelling -Y. Mind you, there is no completely unambiguous way to show a long-E (or, in Britain, a sort-of short-I) at the end of a word, since even -Y can be pronounced long-I ("multiply" can be read with either a long-I (the verb) or a long-E (adjective)). Still, -Y is much more common for this sound, so let's use that.

In the second word, the -IE- represents not one sound but two vowels, long-E followed by long-A, a sequence that ordinarily occurs only within an English word, not at the end (create, deviate). Long-A at the end of a word is commonly shown by -AY (day, display). Tho -EEYAY may seem cumbersome, even unsophisticated, it is clear, so let's go with it.

The last problem with the traditional spellings of these two words is that the final-R in "charcutier" is silent. We can, therefore, simply drop it.

That yields: "sharcootery" and "sharcooteeyay".

* Merriam-Webster Online.

Thursday, September 4, 2008: "begger" for "beggar"

Why is there an A in this word? The common agent suffix is -ER. A substantially less common version is -OR. But -AR? The mere fact that "beggar" can sometimes be used as a verb ("beggar thy neighbor") does not justify an -AR ending. Part of speech should play little or no 'part' in spelling. Pronunciation is what spelling should cue. Compare one synonym for "beggar", "pauper". There is no verb "to paup". The word is a noun, and the -ER is not an agent ending, just a phonetic spelling so people will know how to pronounce the word.

When a new reader hears bé, and knows that "beg" is a noun, s/he will likely assume that bé adds a second-G to keep the E short, then adds the agent ending -ER. Perfectly logical, but wrong in traditional spelling. Let's make it both logical and right: "begger".

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

Wensday, September 3, 2008: "addolessent" for "adolescent"

There are at least two serious problems with the traditional spelling of today's word.

First, ADO- is ambiguous. It's a word to itself, pronounced a.dúe, but that is a unique pronunciation. Still, it does make the new reader, especially outside English-speaking countries, wonder if it takes that pronunciation here. A single-D also permits the pronunciation of the A as long-A (sado-masochism, radon, tornado). In many words, an initial-A in that letter combination is pronounced schwa (adorable, adopt, adobe — and, as you can see, the sound of the O also wanders). In other ADO combos, the A takes its "broad" sound (the same as short-O: mikado, aficionado, avocado). So this is a multiply ambiguous spelling.

If we double the D, we will reduce the confusion, tho not entirely eliminate it, in that we have, for instance, words like addition and addendum in which the A represents a schwa even with a double-D following. But we do give the A its full short sound in additive. Go figure. Even with exceptions, ADD- is much more likely to be read with the correct short-A sound here.

The second major problem with this word is the SC for a simple S-sound. The C is supposed to be silent. Why is it there if it is silent? In Britain, there's at least one SC combo in which the C is pronounced, as K: sceptic/al. If the sound is just S, then, it should be written either S or SS. Any other spelling will impose upon people the obligation to memorize this particular word rather than simply spell it according to well-understood conventions. That is the basic problem with traditional orthography: we have to memorize thousands of words. Why? Let's just spell them in standard ways, with very few exceptions, and the bulk of people will be able to guess correctly on hearing them, without memorizing an enormous list of exceptions to the rules: "addolessent".

My thanks to "yaora..." for this suggestion. (We are back to the letter A because we have no common words that start with X, Y, or Z.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008: "woppity" for "wapiti"

Many people will never have seen today's word, but it is apparently well-understood as a long-established (1806) alternate name for the elk, in places where elks are common. It's an Indian name, from the Shawnee language, and means, literally, "white rump". Our concern is not with the word's frequency, nor how widely it is known, but its spelling. It looks to most people as tho it should be pronounced wa.pée.tee. In fact, however, it is pronounced wóp.i.tee! So "wapiti" is a ridiculous spelling that should be replaced by one that shows plainly how the word is pronounced: "woppity".

Munday, September 1, 2008: "villij" for "village"

-AGE is ambiguous. Some words with this spelling, like age itself, are pronounced with a long-A (sage, page, assuage); others are pronounced with a schwa, which some people perceive as a short-I, as in today's word (language, dotage, image). Yet others have a broad-A / short-O (same sound), and a ZH-sound rather than J-sound for the G: collage, dressage, montage. Here, the sound is either a schwa (which can be expressed by any vowel) or a short-I, and the G is pronounced J. So let's just write an I and a J: "villij".

My thanks to "Red..." for suggesting this word, tho I chose a somewhat different solution.

Sunday, August 31, 2008: "eutillity" for "utility"

An initial-U may not be clear as to sound, even before a single consonant: ululate, upon, umiak, Upanishad, Uzbek. By far most words starting in U followed by a single consonant actually begin with a Y-glide, and are followed by a long-U sound, but as you see, not all do. We can make clear the presence of a Y-glide by replacing the U- with EU- (a conventional spelling for that sound). We can also make clear the syllabic stress of today's word by doubling the L, which as well makes plain that the first-I, before the L, is short, whereas the absence of a double-L after it permits a reader to give it a long-I sound.

This is not an urgent matter, since most people in English-speaking countries will know how to pronounce "utility". But English is read outside English-speaking countries, so we need to recognize that a new reader from a non-Western country in whose language (like most) U never takes a Y-glide, might welcome more guidance: "eutillity".

Saturday, August 30, 2008: "thermus" for "thermos"

-OS is a very peculiar way to spell the sound in "thermos". The reader would expect that sound to be spelled either -OUS or -US, and the spelling -OS to be pronounced differently, as having either a long-O or an AU-sound (Barbados, Los Angeles, Los Alamos, heros [plural of the sandwich]) or perhaps a short-O (chaos, DOS, reredos). Many of the words people can think of that end in -OS are unclear as to pronunciation, but most people pronounce them with either a long- or short-O: bathos, pathos, ethos, eros. Someone trying to guess the spelling of "thermos" just from hearing it would likely write a -US at the end, not an -OS. So let's do that: "thermus".

Friday, August 29, 2008: "salteen" for "saltine"

INE is ambiguous. In today's (Food Friday) word, machine, and others, like benzine, its I represents long-E. In other words, like valentine, define, and asinine, it represents long-I. In yet other words (medicine, predestine, determine), it represents short-I. -EEN is unambiguous.

Further AL is also ambiguous, sometimes being pronounced short-A (albacore, alimony, salvage); sometimes AU (alder, falter, almost); sometimes flat-A or long-A, depending on the dialect (alien, paleontology, and one pronunciation of gala); and often, in word endings, schwa (actual, nominal, vital). The sound here is AU, as in audacious, laud, and fault, so let's spell it that way: "saulteen".

Thursday, August 28, 2008: "recrute" for "recruit"

UI is ambiguous. Is it one sound or two, in one syllable or two? And which sound or sounds is it meant to represent? Compare intuit, anguish, acquire, acquiesce. In "recruit", it's supposed to represent only a long-U sound. There's an unambiguous way to spell that: "recrute".

Wensday, August 27, 2008: "quolify" for "qualify"

The A in today's word doesn't represent either of A's major sounds, long or short, but "broad"-A, the same sound as short-O. In addition to long, short, and broad sounds, A is also sometimes given another sound, that of AU in haul, especially before L (alter, false), and flat-A, the sound in wary and scary. O is thus a much better letter for this spot: "quolify".

Tuesday, August 26, 2008: "parrafin" for "paraffin"

Today's word is one of those I had to double-check in the dictionary because the spelling is just so wrong, with a single-R and double-F when it should be the other way around.

AR commonly takes a broad-A (or short-O, the same sound), as in bar, car, and star. Because traditional spelling is so bizarre, however, you can't rely on any particular spelling representing any particular sound consistently. Still, ARR is a common way of showing that an A before R does not take its "broad" sound but rather its short sound (as in at): arrow, barren, carrel. So let's use that here.

AFF suggests at once that the A takes its short sound and that the word's stress falls on the second syllable. Neither is true here. The second A in "paraffin" represents none of A's own sounds, but a schwa. And the word's stress falls on the first syllable.

If we double the R and make the double-F single, we get a spelling that is clear as to both vowel sounds and syllabic stress: "parrafin".

Munday, August 25, 2008: "afend" for "offend"

OFF is a word, pronounced auf by most people or of  (folk phonetics: ahf) by people who avoid the AU sound (as in haul). But that letter sequence in "offend" and its derivatives (e.g., offensive, offender, and (to take) offense) has neither of those sounds. Rather, the O is said as a schwa, even tho a double-F after it suggests that it should take its short sound — which is why this word needs to be reformed.

The usual way of showing a schwa at the beginning of a word is to write A before a single consonant: ajar, around, about. So let's use that convention.

Most derivatives of "offend" take the same pronunciation, schwa, for the vowel in their first syllable. But there is a specialized use of one, "offense" in sports, where the O does take its short sound because the first syllable is stressed. (Some speakers use the AU-sound there, rather than the short-O.) In that specialized use, we can retain the present spelling, "offense", because the meaning is quite different from the ordinary meaning of "offense" as pronounced with stress on the second syllable.

Related words do not have to be spelled the same, nor sound the same. Consider "oppose" and "opponent". We don't say "opposent", nor write it "opposent" but pronounce the S as N. Related words are separate words, so should take spellings that accurately represent how each is pronounced in itself, without regard to how another member of what may be an extensive family might be pronounced or spelled: "afend".

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

Sunday, August 24, 2008: "neppotizm" for "nepotism"

There are two things wrong with the present spelling of today's word. First, the single-P could incline the reader to think the E takes its long sound, as in the partially parallel words depot and egotism. Second, the S represents a Z-sound. Surely it makes better sense to use Z to represent the Z-sound: "neppotizm".

Saturday, August 23, 2008: "markitry" for "marquetry" or "marqueterie"

The present spellings of this term from fine furniture* are misleading as to pronunciation, since QU ordinarily equates with KW, but here, only with K. The longer spelling, "marqueterie", also suggests four syllables, but is actually pronounced in three, just like the shorter spelling, "marquetry". In simplifying the spelling to show the actual sounds, we need to avoid creating a false connection to "market", which we can do by replacing the E with I: "markitry".

* Merriam-Webster:  "decorative work in which elaborate patterns are formed by the insertion of pieces of material (as wood, shell, or ivory) into a wood veneer that is then applied to a surface (as of a piece of furniture)".

Friday, August 22, 2008: "lamm" for "lamb"

As with yesterday's word ("knit" to "nitt"), we have this Food Friday an unphonetic word, this one with a silly silent-B, that is a homophone for another common word, in this case "lam" as in "on the lam" (in flight from the law). We can drop the silent-B and replace it with a second-M, to form "lamm", which, tho not streamlined, is phonetic. Altho there is only one ordinary word in English that ends with a double-M, "mumm" (a variant spelling for the verbal form of "mum", meaning to hush), there are familiar surnames like Lamm, Hamm, Grimm, and Fromm, so people in English-speaking countries will not find "lamm" for the young of a sheep "funny-looking" or "un-English".

There is a slight complication today that did not exist with yesterday's word, because "lam", tho ordinarily used as a noun, is also a verb, the M of which is doubled before some suffixes are added: "lammed", "lamming". But since "lamb" is only a noun, it is extremely unlikely that the reader will be confused, especially in that "lam" as a verb in itself unusual, and "lammed" and "lamming" are extremely infrequent. So we can drop the misleading-B and replace if with a second-M to distinguish from "lam": "lamm".

A Google image search on "lamm" turns up some pix of lambs.

Thursday, August 21, 2008: "nitt" for "knit"

There are two words with the sound nit, one spelled the same as it sounds, "nit", the other spelled with a silent-K in advance of "nit". The meanings are very different, with the original meaning of "nit" being very unpleasant: the egg of a louse or other parasitic insect. So we don't want to confuse, with that, the sense of a method of creating fabric from yarn.

"Nit" is a noun that has no verbal form. "Knit" is mainly a verb, so takes verbal suffixes. In the past and present progressive, the T is doubled: "knitted", "knitting". So we have a simple way of distinguishing the verb now spelled with a silly silent-K from the noun with no K: double the T. There are a number of familiar words that end in TT (mitt, mutt, watt, putt, butt), so no reader of English will regard this as an "un-English" spelling that "looks funny". And we won't have to double the T before adding verb endings because it's already double: "nitt".

Wensday, August 20, 2008: "jon" for "john"

The spelling JOHN for this slang term for "toilet" is very peculiar, in that OH is a well-understood word in itself, with a long-O, and a standard way of showing the long-O sound in pronunciation keys (for instance, in the Unabridged online dictionary) — but the O in "john" is short! The H adds nothing but length and confusion, so let's just drop it, OK?: "jon".

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008: "infuze" for "infuse"

-USE is ambiguous. The S takes its own sound in words like profuse, the adjective diffuse, and the noun abuse, but is pronounced as tho Z in confuse and the verbs diffuse and abuse. How is the reader to know when to say a Z-sound and when an S-sound? Ah! How about, we spell the Z-sound with a Z: "infuze".

The future-words list asked for advice about how to treat the related noun "infusion". No one offered comment, and I realized today that we don't need to change "infusion" — unless we change all -SION endings that sound like -zhan (where A represents schwa). After all, the verb "televiZe" takes the noun "televiSion". If we do change those -SION endings, we need to consider whether to change them to -ZION, -ZHON, or something else. But we need not do that today.

Munday, August 18, 2008: "habberdasher/y" for "haberdasher/y"

-ABE- would ordinarily be seen as having a long-A sound, as, indeed, in the nickname "Abe" for "Abraham". The sound in this word, however, is short-A, which would ordinarily be indicated by a doubled consonant immediately following. So let's do that: "habberdasher/y".

Sunday, August 17, 2008: "jennesis" for "genesis"

GE is ambiguous, and a single consonant followed by E often indicates that the vowel before that consonant is pronounced long.

The G in the G-E combination can be given G's own distinctive sound (also called "hard-G": get, gear, gecko); or the J-sound (gentrify, gelatinous, germinate); or the ZH-sound (usually at the end of a word (collage, garage) but even sometimes at the beginning: genre, gendarme). There is absolutely no way a reader can know which sound to apply just from the spelling.

"Genesis" contains the smaller word "gene", which illustrates the second problem: the first-E is shown long by the second-E after a single consonant in "gene", but the identical letter sequence, ENE, in "genesis" does not represent a long-E. There is, again, no way the reader can know that from the present spelling.

Happily, there are quick fixes for both of these problems. First, change the G to J; second, double the N: "jennesis".

Saturday, August 16, 2008: "fixcher" for "fixture"

-TURE is a silly way to spell something that sounds like -cher. -TURE also would lead some readers, especially in non-English-speaking countries, to pronounce the U long. Whether they see the word as fiks.tuer or fiks.tyuer or fiks.chuer, they will have it wrong.

There is no stress accent on either syllable in those phonetic spellings because different new readers might put the stress on different syllables, depending on how they see the word (compare couture, coiffure).

If we replace the -TURE with -CHER we not only indicate the proper sounds but also make less likely that a reader will put the word's stress on the second syllable, since the bulk of words ending in -ER that new readers will have encountered will not have put stress on that syllable: "fixcher".

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

Friday, August 15, 2008: "enjin" for "engine"

The current spelling looks as tho it should be pronounced éng.gien, én.gien, or én.jien. It is actually supposed to be pronounced én.jin, with a short-I and no NG-sound (as in sing). To make that pronunciation plain we need to drop the final-E, which suggests a long-I, and eliminate the NG letter sequence, substituting the clear J for the ambiguous G: "enjin".

My thanks to "Clap..." for this suggestion. Naturally, all derivatives also change (e.g., "enjineer" and "enjineering") By the way, we would ordinarily offer a food-related word on Friday, but we have used up all those from our list that start with the letter E.

Thursday, August 14, 2008: "daycoopozh" for "découpage" and "decoupage"

We have here one of those originally-French words whose spelling makes very good sense in French but absolutely no sense in English. Since we are dealing here with English, words we are expected to read and write should be written so that people who read English will know how to pronounce them and be able to remember or guess how to spell them. Few would guess an accented-E, because English does not use accents. So the first simple change is that the accent has got to go.

There's nothing complicated about the pronunciation of this word for handicrafts made from cut-out and varnished pieces of paper. But DE- is usually pronounced with a long-E, in English (demand, defray, deconstruct). OU is highly variable but should ordinarily represent the OU-sound (flout, roust, roundabout). -GE usually represents a "soft"-G: the J-sound (college, oblige, stooge, gouge). And -AGE usually represents a schwa followed by a J-sound (age, cottage, suffrage). None of that holds in this word.

The vowel sound in the first syllable is long-A, which is commonly spelled either AY or AI, occasionally AE, and sometimes just A before a single consonant, tho that is often unclear because an A in its own syllable followed by a single consonant often represents a schwa (afar, baton, variety). AY is the clearest representation of the long-A sound, so let's use that.

If the sound now represented by OU is long-U without a Y-glide, we should use the clearest representation of that sound, OO.

If the sound of the -AGE is -OZH, we should write that.

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

Wensday, August 13, 2008: "capreese" for "caprice"

"Caprice" contains the smaller, familiar word "price" but is not pronounced like it. A reader, especially in a non-English-speaking country, might see the word as currently spelled as meaning the top price legally to be charged: "cap-price" streamlined. Or perhaps they could see it as some kind of "rice". This French- and Italian-derived word actually has nothing to do with "price" or "rice" at all, in sound or sense. It rhymes with "geese", so let's spell it that way.

We need not deal with the derivative "capricious" right now, since it has two common pronunciations, one with a short-I in the second syllable, the other with a long-E. Tho we might argue that people who see an I and pronounce a long-E in "caprice" can do the same if we reform "capricious" to "caprishus", some people will object to the -SHUS for -CIOUS, preferring -TIOUS or leaving the current spelling. So let's reform the base word now and deal with the derivative some other time: "capreese".

Tuesday, August 12, 2008: "basees" for "bases" (plural of "basis")

There is no way a reader can know except from context whether "bases" is the plural of "basis" or "base". There should be a way to tell the two words apart, and cue the reader to the pronunciation.

Perhaps the ultimate solution is to regularize such words ("basises", "analysises"), but since that seems unlikely in the foreseeable future, we might at least make plain the long-E in the last syllable of today's word by doubling the one E already there: "basees".

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

Munday, August 11, 2008: "adue" for "adieu", "adoo" for "ado"

There are two similar words, "ado" (the more frequent of these two infrequent words) and "adieu", neither spelled phonetically and the two having wildly different meanings, that we might as well deal with together. For some people, they are said the same. For others, "adieu" has a Y-glide as part of the long-U, whereas "ado" has none. The stress in both is on the second syllable.

"Adue" permits a Y-glide; "adoo" does not. So let's respell this twofer that way: "adue" and "adoo".

My thanks to "yaora..." for "adoo".

Sunday, August 10, 2008: "wondur" for "wander"

Now and then, unpredictably, traditional spelling uses the letter A in unexpected ways, to represent a sound that is neither long-A nor short-A, but something else. Sometimes it is an AU-sound (alter, war), sometimes an AI-sound (wary, spare), sometimes short-O (also called "broad-A": father, car).

The sound in "wander" is broad-A / short-O. O (before a consonant) would ordinarily be clearer — "wonder" — except that we already have a word by that spelling which, alas, is unphonetic and uses an O to represent the short-U sound! Tho we have offered, on May 3, 2007, "wunder" for that word, we cannot expect readers to know a new spelling from an old spelling if they are the same. So we need to assign a new spelling for "wander" that is distinct from the old spelling for "wonder", while keeping to phonetic principles.

Fortunately, there is an alternate spelling for the ER sound, UR (as in purge, splurge, and urgent). Let's use that. People who see "wunder" and "wondur" will be able to keep them separate, each associated with the right unphonetic, traditionally spelled word: "wondur".

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

Saturday, August 9, 2008: "vulcher" for "vulture"

No major dialect pronounces the -TURE of today's word with either a T-sound or a long-U sound, so there is no way to justify the current absurd spelling. We should spell it as we say it: "vulcher".

Friday, August 8, 2008: "eusij" for "usage"

The present spelling of today's word contains two familiar, smaller words, "us" and "age", but it doesn't sound like either of them, in either syllable. In the alternative, it could be seen as "u-sage", in which case the first syllable would be read right, as a long-U with initial Y-glide, but the second syllable would still be read with a long-A, which is wrong. A long-U with initial Y-glide at the beginning of a word is sometimes shown by EU-, which would break all possible mental connection with "us". The vowel of the second syllable is a schwa or short-I. The GE is pronounced J. The S is pronounced S, by most people, or Z, by some (according to online dictionaries, tho I do not recall having heard that). The people who see S but say Z can continue to do that with the S in today's simplified spelling: "eusij".

Thursday, August 7, 2008: "thermommeter" for "thermometer"

A reader could easily see this word as comprising two elements, "thermo" and "meter", and thus pronounce it théèe.ter, with a long-O. If we double the M, the same reader will more likely read the O as short and move the primary stress to the middle of the word, away from the front (where most nouns take their stress): "thermommeter".

Wensday, August 6, 2008: "saree" for "sari"

The usual traditional spelling for this word is ambiguous, in that many words ending in -I have a long-I sound (alibi, cacti, sci-fi), but the sound here is long-E (or, in Britain, an open short-I). There is an accepted alternate spelling that shows the long-E sound plainly, and Brits who shorten that sound will know how to handle that if we present them with an -EE. Altho the -EE ending is often given stress, that is not always the case (coffee, banshee, chickadee), and English spelling does not generally concern itself with syllabic stress. So let us banish the more-common spelling "sari" in favor of the less-common, but superior, alternate spelling: "saree".

My thanks to "fishstick..." for suggesting this word, even tho I chose a different solution.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008: "rezerv" for "reserve"

The current spelling of this word looks as tho it means, "to serve again", and thus that it is pronounced like "serve" with "re-" in front of it: ree.sérv. Not so. The actual meaning is to set aside for later use, and the pronunciation is ree.zérv. Most people would see no need for a double-E before a single consonant, and spelling reformers see no need for a final-E, after the V. Quite the contrary, such an E suggests that the E before the RV is long. The new reader might reason, "Why else would it be there?" In that the sound is not long-E, there is no good reason for there to be a final-E: "rezerv".

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

Munday, August 4, 2008: "quieetus" for "quietus"

Altho Merriam-Webster shows a secondary pronunciation, kwie.yáe.tas, other sources show only one, kwie.yée.tas, so this word can be revised to show that pronunciation more clearly. Altho one sense of the word is closer to "quit" (discharge from a debt) than to "quiet", the more customary use is a reference to release from activity or life, which is closer to "quiet". Because of the influence of "quiet", the present spelling of "quietus" might be read, especially by new readers or people outside English-speaking countries, as kwíe.ya.tas, which is wrong. If we add a second-E, however, the pronunciation should become clear to everyone: "quieetus".

Sunday, August 3, 2008: "parishoner" for "parishioner"

There is no reason for an I to appear immediately before the O in today's word. It adds nothing but length and the possibility of confusion: is this word four syllables long (pa.rísh.a.nèr) or five (pa.ríèr)? It's four, so let's drop the needless and misleading I: "parishoner".

Saturday, August 2, 2008: "obsekwee/s" and "obseekweus" for "obsequy", "obsequies", and "obsequious"

Altho I initially intended to revise only "obsequy" and its more common plural form "obsequies" (for funeral rites), the adjective "obsequious" is related, despite its entirely different meaning (fawning, servile). So let's revise that too.

-QUY is a very peculiar-looking letter sequence. -QUIES in this word looks Latin, as tho the word "obsequies" should be pronounced oeb.sék.wee.yàes or -àez. Its actual pronunciation is óèez. If we change the singular to -KWY ("obsekwy"), the sound of the -Y is unclear. It could be long-I, as in "comply". If we accept the KW, which is the proper sound here (QU can also take a K-sound without a W-sound (queue, quiche, briquette, and the many words ending in -QUE), we can make plain the long-E sound now shown by -Y with, instead, -EE: "obsekwee". The plural would then not require we change a -Y to I and add -ES. Rather, we can simply add -S: "obsekwees". No one is going to see that as Latin, to be pronounced oeb.sék.wee.yàez.

If the base word is "obsekwee", the adjective should follow roughly the same pattern but should show the long-E sound in both the middle of the word and toward the end. And there is no OU-sound in the adjective's pronunciation, so we should drop the O and leave only the U.

So today's twofer is: "obsekwee/s" and "obseekweus".

Friday, August 1, 2008: "nonparell" for "nonpareil"

This Food Friday, let's reform a word that as an adjective means "without equal" and as a noun means either a paragon (as of virtue) or a flat disk of chocolate covered with sugar pellets. It is spelled in a French fashion that would lead the reader familiar with French to pronounce it nòáe, but it is actually pronounced nòél. How is a reader of English to know that?

EI generally has one of two sounds in English, long-E or long-I, as in the two pronunciations of either and neither. In a few words, it represents long-A (weigh, freight) or two vowels side-by-side (albeit, cuneiform). In a few words, it represents only a schwa (foreign, sovereign). In a few words, it represents a short-I sound (counterfeit, surfeit). When is it ever pronounced short-E? Well, here, for one, heifer for another.

Plainly, the EI has got to go.

Is "nonparel" good enuf? I don't think so. Comparison to apparel would leave syllabic stress unclear. This word is stressed on its last syllable. If we double the final-L, we make it more likely that the reader will put the stress on the last syllable (compare farewell, forestall, fulfill). So let's do that: "nonparell".

Thursday, July 31, 2008: "mashetty" for "machete"

Altho this word is Spanish in origin, it entered the English language so long ago (1575) that its Spanish pronunciation, ma.ché, was long ago lost. Altho dictionaries acknowledge an alternate pronunciation with a Spanish CH-sound (which is the same as the English-CH), the customary English pronunciation employs a French-CH, which is the same as the English-SH: ma.shé

In 1575, most people in England (which was pretty much the only place English was spoken at the time) knew nothing about the sound system of any foreign language but French. Remember that French was the language of court for centuries after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Many words borrowed from languages other than French were thus, if recognized as foreign, given Frenchified pronunciations or, in the alternative, completely anglicized in short order. So, if "machete" ever had a Spanish/English CH in England, it shifted to a Frenchified SH-sound quickly.

Now that the United States has an enormous Hispanic population (over 45 million, equivalent to 3/4 the population of the United Kingdom), some English words taken from Spanish a long time ago are being re-Spanicized. Even before the rise of Spanish as the second language of the United States, better foreign-language education and international travel had re-Continentalized armada (brought into English by 1533 as or.máe.da) to or.mód.a decades ago. A more recent development is the alteration of junta, which entered the English language by 1622 as jún.ta, but is now as commonly given the Spanicized pronunciation hóon.ta, as tho it were borrowed last week.

At least to date, "machete" has not been re-Spanicized, perhaps in part because the same word appears in northern Brazilian Portuguese as ma.shé.chee and in southern Brazil as ma.shé (just like English). Tho Merriam-Webster Online gives two audio pronunciations for each of armada and junta, it offers only one audio rendering for machete, with an English-SH.

To preempt a re-Spanicization of today's word, and thus save us the confusion of two pronunciations, let's just completely anglicize the spelling, to: "mashetty".

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

Wensday, July 30, 2008: "lejjible" for "legible"

GI is ambiguous, often taking G's unique sound (give, gild, gibbon, girl) but also often representing J's sound (giant, gibberish, gibbet, ginger). There is absolutely no way to know which sound the G is intended to take, so we need to get rid of all G's pronounced J, and simply use J everywhere the J-sound occurs. After a short vowel, we are well advised to double the J, just as we double almost every other consonant to show a short vowel before it. Following this convention, we get: "lejjible".

My thanks to "Table..." for suggesting this word, even tho I chose a slitely different solution.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008: "kriptonite" for "kryptonite"

This invented word is a perfect example of why English spelling is so crazy. Someone actually went to the trouble of inventing a fictitious planet, and spelling its name unphonetically, as tho no one in the universe spells rationally! Fictitious fragments of that fictitious planet retain an unphonetic Y for a short-I sound. Who comes up with this crap?

If we don't establish standards of propriety in spelling, more and more words will be invented with preposterous spellings, and we will all be expected to adjust around that madness, or be insulted as being stupid. No, what is stupid is putting up with the ever worsening spelling of English, as more words are admitted from other languages without phoneticizing them, and more words are invented in unphonetic form by people who are just completely inconsiderate of others. Every year, the spelling of English gets worse. It's time to reverse the trend, and impose upon scientists, writers of fiction, and everyone else the obligation to STOP making English worse. If you're going to invent a word, spell it phonetically: "kriptonite".

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

Munday, July 28, 2008: "jamm" for "jamb" or "jambe"

This is a little complicated. Most of us have a general sense of what a "door jamb" (the usual use of this word) is, but our understanding may be a tad deficient: the vertical part of the door frame into which a door latches. Actually, that is one of two jambs, the other being the vertical part of the frame on the other side, to which the door is attached by hinges. "Jamb" derives from earlier words that mean "leg", so there are two jambs in any architectural frame, be it for a door, window, or fireplace. There is also a "jamb(e)" (also called "greave") in suits of armor, a covering for the lower leg comprising two pieces, front and back, into which the leg is 'jammed' or squeezed — which was, at one time, another meaning for "jamb".

Because a door sometimes sticks shut, which could be referred to as a "door jam", it seems wise not simply to drop the -B(E) and leave "jam", but to continue to distinguish "jam" from "jamb(e)" in spelling, while eliminating the B, which is not given its own distinctive sound. We can double the M: "jamm", so that even if you pronounce every letter, you will be saying the word right, which would not be the case if you pronounced every letter of "jamb(e)".

There are only two words in all of English with a final double-M (hmm and mumm, an alternate spelling for the verbal sense of mum), but -MM is plainly in keeping with conventions in traditional spelling, so doesn't "look funny". That something may "look funny" to some people is in any case insufficient reason not to spell it that way. After all, there are lots of words in English that "look funny" to rational people, and what "looks funny" to one person may not, to another. If a spelling is clear and not misleading, we have good reason to use it.

Would it be better simply to drop the -B(E) and lose the distinction from "jam", in its various senses, just for the sake of simplicity? I don't think so. Having a distinction between a door frame and a door that is stuck — or a form of fruit spread — seems a good feature to 'preserve': "jamm".

Sunday, July 27, 2008: "infinit" for "infinite"

The silent-E at the end of this word is hugely misleading, because it suggests that the I before the T is long, whereas it is actually short. So let's just drop it: "infinit".

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

Saturday, July 26, 2008: "heddake" for "headache"

"Headache" is a compound of two unphonetically spelled words, "head" and "ache". "Ake" for "ache" was offered here March 1, 2005, and "hed" for "head" on October 21, 2004. But with phonetic spelling, you sometimes cannot just shove one word up against another to create a compound, because phonetics is context-sensitive, and "hedake" is less than ideal, given the unphonetic state of English spelling today.

A single consonant following the E would probably not cause a problem of people seeing the E as long, tho a double-D would be clearer. The real problem with "hedake" is that it looks like a loanword from, say, Japanese, to be pronounced in three syllables, as perhaps he.dó, perhaps hi.dó, perhaps háe.dok.àe, háe.doe.kàe, or háe.da.kàe. As with the 2004 borrowing "sudoku" (for, oddly, a game that originated in the United States under the name "Number Place"), nobody can know from the spelling exactly how to say it nor where to put the stress. does not show a pronunciation. If you check Wikipedia and click on the pronunciation icon, you will likely get an error message that the file is in an unknown format. To correct that, you have to follow a pageful of instructions to install a component! and if you are disinclined to go to all that trouble, you will not be able to get an auditory pronunciation from Wikipedia. Further down in the article, you can find a bizarre rendering of the sounds in Wikipedia's moronic "IPA for English", a system understood well by, at most, perhaps 1/10 of 1% of speakers of English. So unless one knows to check Merriam-Webster Online, the typical reader of English won't know how to pronounce "sudoku", because people in English-speaking countries don't know the sound system of Japanese.

Fanetik renders the sounds easily, thus: sue.dóe.ku (M-W's pronunciation) or sa.dóe.ku (Wikipedia's). Yes, that's right, the only authorities you can find online that include a pronunciation for "sudoku" disagree. Since the pronunciation is not settled, we cannot even offer the word here in a clearer form, as "suedoeku" or "suedoekoo" for M-W's pronunciation, or "sadoeku" or "sadoekoo" for Wikipedia's. In that the word is not ripe for reform, we needn't decide, now, how we might write it once the pronunciation is settled in general use — if ever.

Thus, if "hedake" were seen as Japanese, people wouldn't know how to pronounce it. Doubling the D may not completely remove the ambiguity, but it makes it more likely that people in general will see this as a phonetic version of "headache": "heddake".

Friday, July 25, 2008: "gurkin" for "gherkin"

The H in the present spelling of this Food Friday word is there only to show that the G takes its "hard" sound (that is, G's own sound, not J's) even tho it precedes an E. If we simply drop the H, "gerkin" becomes ambiguous. But if we replace the E with U, the ambiguity is removed. Curiously, the English word derives from the Dutch word gurken, plural of gurk, cucumber. Why, pray, did somebody change gurken at all? And if they wanted to change the E to I because that seemed to them more like the way English treats it, why would they also change the U to HE? Let's undo some of that silliness. Leave the I, change the GHE back to GU: "gurkin".

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

Thursday, July 24, 2008: "favorit" for "favorite"

Merriam-Webster Online recognizes fáìet as a dialectal pronunciation, but for most of us, it is only a playful, funning, deliberate mispronunciation, so we needn't consider it in deciding how to spell today's word. The standard pronunciation employs a short-I in the last syllable, which makes the final-E misleading. So let's just drop it: "favorit".

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

Wensday, July 23, 2008: "emition/s" for "emission/s"

The verb from which this noun derives is "emit", not "emiss". How on Earth did we get "emission" from "emit"? Why would we put up with that? And why should people have to learn more than one nonphonetic spelling for what sounds like -shan (that is, something like "shun", but with a schwa rather than a full short-U)? Let's get rid of the -SS- and revert to the T of the verb: "emition/s".

Tuesday, July 22, 2008: "dibencher" for "debenture"

-TURE is a silly and ambiguous way to spell something that sounds like -cher. Some readers will be tempted to pronounce the -TURE as -tyuer, which is wrong. The sound of the T is CH; the sound of the U is close to but not the same as short-U, not long-U; and the final-E is silent, but not the silent-E that makes the prior vowel long.

The other problem with today's word is the DE-, which appears to be the prefix meaning of, from, away, or the opposite. That prefix is pronounced with a long-E, and negates what follows, so were we simply to change the -TURE to -CHER, we would produce "debencher", which looks to mean someone (for instance, an athletic coach) who takes someone off the bench. But in "debenture", the meaningful unit is not DE- but DEB-, as in debt. "Debenture" comes from Latin "debentur", meaning "they are owed". And the sound is not long-E as in dethrone, not short-E as in debt, but short-I! So we should write an I: "dibencher".

Munday, July 21, 2008: "carrom" for "carom"

When I first encountered this word in reading, I assumed it was pronounced ka.róm. Other readers might think its first syllable is pronounced like the ordinary word "car". Both readings are wrong. The correct pronunciation is káa.ram.

The way we often show a short-A, rather than broad-A (as in father), before R is to double the R (arrow, barrel, barren). If we do that here, we also signal that the first syllable, not the second, bears the word's stress. Two cues from one letter is quite a bargain: "carrom".

One dictionary shows "carrom" as an accepted alternate spelling already. Others do not. That "carrom" is already accepted by some authorities should make it easier for everyone to accept.

Sunday, July 20, 2008: "baze" for "baize"

We don't need an I in this name for a felt-like fabric used mainly to cover pool and card tables. The I adds nothing but length and the possibility of misreading the sound, which is a simple long-A. The reader may reason that if it were just long-A, there would be no reason for an I to be there, so figure that some other sound occurs there, such as long-I (caravanserai), short-A  (plaid), or perhaps two vowel sounds in sequence (algebraist, contraindicate). So let's just drop it, OK?: "baze".

Saturday, July 19, 2008: "acaysha" for "acacia"

-CIA- is ambiguous, and can be read as -see.ya-, -see.yae-, -shee.ya-, -shee-yae-, or -sha- (e.g., glaciate, emaciate, facial). Here, the sound is the SH-sound followed by schwa, which is most plainly written -SHA.

A before a single consonant (acacia) need not be long, as it is supposed to be in the case of the second-A here. How is the reader to know that, when an A before a C in two places in the same word is pronounced two different ways, and an A before a single consonant has different pronunciations in many other words as well? Compare acid, capacity, haciendafacilitate.

There are two common ways to show a long-A sound midword, AI and AY (paid, payment). Each of those spellings is pronounced otherwise in some words, with AI being more variable: airmail, captain, daiquiri, dais, daishiki, haiku). -AY- midword is less common, but there are many words in which that spelling for a long-A does occur, for instance, cayman, crayfish, layman, waylaid. -AY- thus seems the clearer choice: "acaysha".

Note: We have run out of commonplace words that start with X, Y, and Z, so return to the beginning of the alphabet today.

Friday, July 18, 2008: "waulnut" for "walnut"

The A in this Food Friday word has none of A's most common sounds, not long (as in date), not short (as in cat), not even "broad" (as in father). No, the actual sound is that of AU in haul. So let's just write AU: "waulnut".

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

Thursday, July 17, 2008: "vailence" for "valence"

There are two very different words with two very similar spellings that have led some people to pronounce them the same. The first, today's word, is "valence", pronounced váil.ans or váe.lans,* a word from chemistry that refers to the combining ability of one element with others. It has an -ENCE. The other is "valance", usually pronounced váal.ans, tho some people have apparently been influenced by the spelling and the pronunciation given the similarly spelled "valence" to pronounce it váil.ans/váe.lans too! This other word, which refers to a short decorative drapery or enclosure at the top of drapes to conceal the fixtures from which the longer drapes hang, has an -ANCE. We can separate them to reduce the possibilities of confusion.

The problem is that -ALE- is ambiguous. Is the E intended to show the A long (or 'flat', as in airmail), or is it only the vowel of the second syllable, having nothing to do with the A of the first syllable? As is so often the case with traditional spelling, there is absolutely no way to know. AL itself is in any event ambiguous, sometimes being pronounced with a short-A (Al, algorithm), other times like AU (already, almighty).

Even if the sound of the first-A in "valance" is said differently by different people, everyone agrees that in "valence" the A is long (or flat, a sound generally used only before L or R, but also, by some speakers, before M and N). That sound is more plainly written, mid-word, AI (paid, sail). So let's do that here: "vailence".

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

* Note that flat-A can be said in the same syllable with a following L or R, whereas long-A cannot. If you try to say a long-A in the same syllable with a following-L or -R, you have to add a little schwa sound between. Flat-A, said with the mouth more closed, permits the L or R to follow without an intervening schwa.

Wensday, July 15, 2008: "eunison" for "unison"

UN- is a common prefix that negates what follows. It is pronounced with a short-U, and no Y-glide. In today's word, the UN- is pronounced long-U with an initial Y-glide. That sound is much more clearly indicated by EU: "eunison".

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2008: "texcher" for "texture"

-URE is ambiguous, and misleading in this word. In some cases, it represents a long-U sound (allure, reassure), sometimes with an initial Y-glide (demure, epicure). In some other words, it represents a short-E or short-U (composure, erasure), sometimes with an initial Y-glide (figure, disfigure). When preceded by T, the short-E or short-U variant with initial Y-glide long ago merged with the T to produce a CH-sound (as in church). Since the T-Y-URE sound combination is never separated into its original contituent parts but remains always together to sound like -cher (or -chur), it is absurd to retain a T , because the sound is CH.

We could retain the U of the present spelling, "texchur". That would be fine for reading, but if a person hears the word said, s/he is unlikely to think -UR for a very common sound most often spelled -ER, so changing the -URE to -ER seems better: "texcher".

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

Munday, July 14, 2008: "saxafone" for "saxophone"

The main problem with today's word is the preposterous spelling PH for F. Contrary to the pretense of opponents of spelling reform that PH is always F, so it's just an alternative spelling that causes no problems, the fact is that sometimes the P and H retain their separate sounds (uphill, chophouse), sometimes the PH is pronounced simply P (as in diphthong and naphtha as many people say them), and sometimes the two-letter combination PH is not pronounced at all (as in phthalate and phthisis). But it wouldn't matter if it were consistently pronounced F. There is nothing about the sounds of P and H that, combined, would produce an F-sound, so PH would still be a ridiculous and inefficient way of showing the F-sound, so changing it here would still be a good idea.

The second little thing about today's word is the O after the X. SAXO- looks like a combining form from "Saxon" (compare "Anglo-"), but has nothing to do with Saxons. Rather, it refers to a Mr. Sax, a Belgian inventor of musical instruments. The SAXO- spelling may incline new readers, especially in areas where English is being learned as a second language, to pronounce that O long, especially given that the second O (in -PHONE) is long. The sound of the first O is actually schwa, which will be more easily understood if the spelling is A:  "saxafone".

Sunday, July 13, 2008: "rezzarect/ion" for "resurrect/ion"

The wrong letter is doubled in today's word. The double-R would lead the reader to think the U before it is stressed, but it is not. The first syllable is stressed. Moreover, RE- is often pronounced with a long-E, but not here. To show the short-E, and that the first syllable takes the word's stress, let's double the consonant after E. Alas, the present consonant is wrong, an S for a Z-sound. So we should substitute a Z to show the right sound of that consonant, and then double the Z to show that the E is short and the word's stress falls on the first syllable. The U is unwise, too. The most common way of showing a schwa sound is by writing an A. Putting this all together, then, we get: "rezzarect" and "rezzarection".

Saturday, July 12, 2008: "quodrillyon" for "quadrillion"

There are two problems with the traditional spelling. First, there is an A that takes neither of A's typical sounds, long and short. Rather, the sound is "broad"-A, the same sound as short-O. So let's use an O.  One down.

Second, this word ends with the familiar small word "lion" but is not pronounced like the King of the Jungle.* -LLYON is a better way to spell the actual sound: "quodrillyon".

* The expression might more properly be "King of the Savannah".

Friday, July 11, 2008: "palit" for "palate"

This Food Friday, let's fix a word that refers to the ability to discern flavors. The traditional spelling incorporates the short word, early learned, "late", but does not rhyme with it. Rather, the -ATE is pronounced either IT or [schwa]T. Dropping the -E would leave "palat", which might work, if the typical reader sees the -AT as  [schwa]T. But I think -IT would be clearer and thus less likely to be read with a short-A sound before the T: "palit".

Thursday, July 10, 2008: "opperate", "opperation", and "opperativ" for "operate", "operation", and "operative"

When does an E after a consonant make the vowel before that consonant long? When doesn't it? And why should we have to guess?

The O in today's related words is short, but you cannot know that just from seeing the word as traditionally spelled, especially given that the E at the end of "ope[-]rate" does mark the prior vowel as long. The way we commonly show a short vowel is by doubling the following consonant, so let's do that here.

In "operative", we have the same problem of knowing whether an E plays the role of the "silent-E" that marks a vowel long, or not. At the end of a word, we don't need to double the consonant to show that the prior vowel is short. Simply dropping the final-E suffices, because a single vowel before a consonant at the end of a word will be seen as short.

So today's threefer is: "opperate", "opperation", and "opperativ".

Wensday, July 9, 2008: "num", "nummer", and "nummest" for "numb", "number", and "numbest"

The traditional spelling of this word is dumb, for having a silent-B, which no sane person can possibly justify, especially when that silent-B appears to be pronounced once the -ER or -EST ending for comparison or superlative is added. Like most adjectives of one syllable, "numb" most efficiently takes comparison by adding a suffix, not by using the additional word "more". Thus, "number" is the ordinary comparative form of this adjective, but the identical spelling, "number", also represents a noun, pronounced differently, with a sounded-B, that is one of the most familiar words in all of English. It is impossible to justify retaining the present spelling of "numb" and its inflected forms. We must drop the B. That's fine in the base form, "num". But before we can add a suffix that starts with a vowel, we have to double the M to keep the U plainly short: "num", "nummer", "nummest".

My thanks to "Table..." for this suggestion. "Dumb" and its derivatives "dumber" and "dumbest" were similarly offered as "dum", "dummer", and "dummest" on September 17, 2004.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008: "makett" for "maquette"

This word, for a small, preliminary model of something, has a QU but not the expected QU-sound, equivalent to KW. Instead, the sound is a plain K, so we can save a letter and make the sound clearer at the same time simply by changing the QU to K.

We can save another letter, the -E at the end, because a double-T by itself is sufficient to suggest that the word's stress falls at the end: "makett".

Munday, July 7, 2008: "lej/jer" for "ledge/r"

We don't need three letters, DGE, to express a J-sound. J will do very nicely. As a word to itself, "lej" requires only a single-J. Since the E is short, however, if we want to write a simplified version of "ledger" (which appears to be related to "ledge" but actually has a different origin), we will need to double the consonant after the E. The mere fact that that consonant is J is no reason whatsoever not to double it: "lej/jer".

Sunday, July 6, 2008: "kvech" for "kvetch"

We don't need three letters to express a CH-sound (as in church). The CH digraph is good enuf, after every vowel (attach, lecherous, rich, panocha, duchess). If the concern that produces a TCH spelling is that the CH might otherwise be seen as having a K-sound, then we should replace all the CH's that are pronounced K, and leave CH to serve only for the CH-sound: "kvech". 

Saturday, July 5, 2008: "jazmin" for "jasmine"

There are two things wrong with the traditional spelling of today's word. First, there is an S for a Z-sound. That's easy: change the S to Z. Second, as with yesterday's word,* the -INE is misleading because the sound is short-I. The -E suggests the I is long, or perhaps pronounced long-E, as in magazine. That also has an easy solution: just drop the E. Two quick fixes yield: "jazmin".

* "Intestine", to "intestin".

Friday, July 4, 2008: "intestin" for "intestine"

This Food Friday we use the last of our nutrition-related "I" words. -INE is misleading in this word, which has a short-I. The -E suggests the I is long, or perhaps pronounced long-E, as in magazine. Let's just drop it, OK?: "intestin".

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

Thursday, July 3, 2008: "hezzitate" for "hesitate"

There are two things wrong the traditional spelling. First, it employs an S to represent a Z-sound. Second, it uses only a single consonant after a short vowel and before another vowel, which permits the reader to see the E as taking its long sound, whereas it is actually short.

Fortunately, there are quick fixes for both these problems. First, replace the S with Z; and, second, double the Z: "hezzitate".

Wensday, July 2, 2008: "jennuin" for "genuine"

G before E is ambiguous, usually being pronounced J but sometimes retaining its own, authentic G-sound ("hard"-G: get, gecko, renege) and sometimes being pronounced like a French-G, the English ZH-sound (genre, beige, lingerie). In today's word, the sound is J, so let's just write a J.

The end of the word is also misleading in form. -INE will be seen like other -I_E spellings (dime, kite, pipe), as taking a long-I. But -INE is very variable, being pronounced with a long-I in many words (fine, divine), short-I in others (jasmine, adrenaline), and long-E in yet others (tangerine, morphine). If we drop the -E, we make plain that the I is short.

Some people may object that there is another pronunciation, with a long-I: jén.yue.wìen. Not really.'s unabridged dictionary has a pronunciation note about that:

Two pronunciations of GENUINE occur, with a sharp social contrast between them. The usual educated pronunciation is [jen-yoo-in], with the final syllable unstressed. Among some less educated speakers, especially older ones, GENUINE is commonly pronounced as [jen-yoo-ahyn], with a secondary stress on the final syllable, which has the vowel of sign. The latter pronunciation is sometimes used deliberately by educated speakers, as for emphasis or humorous effect.

So we don't have to accommodate that second pronunciation, because spelling is based on the speech of educated people speaking normally, not for comic effect.

The last issue is whether "jenuin" is clear enuf or doubling the N would make it clearer. "Jenuin" might seem to some readers to suggest the second syllable should take the word's stress: je.nú Or perhaps the word will be seen as French-ish, to be pronounced zha.nwéen. A double-N will make plain both that the E is short and that the first syllable is stressed: "jennuin".

Tuesday, July 1, 2008: "fingger" for "finger"

NG is ambiguous. There are at least five pronunciations for this letter combination. The first is the standard NG-sound itself, which is the third common nasal sound in English (with M and N), as in the words sing, thing, ring, and the present-progressive verb ending -ING.

The second is that sound plus a hard-G at the start of a following syllable, as in today's word and linger, angry, ingot, and, indeed, English.

The third and fourth pronunciations are the separate sounds of N (one sound) and G (two sounds) adjoining. The G might be "hard", as in ingrained, ungrateful, and sunglasses. The G might be "soft": angel, impinge, and grungy.

There are even at least two words in which the N adjoins a French soft-G (the English ZH-sound): ingenue and lingerie.

This is much too much to load onto two letters.

So let's clarify words in which a hard-G sound is added to the NG-sound, by showing a second-G, as here.

English has multitudinous extra letters that serve no purpose whatsoever (announce, aggression, renege, controlled). Here, the letter to be added serves a very valuable purpose. Only a fool could object to showing the difference between an NG-sound alone and an NG-sound plus a hard-G: "fingger".

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

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 the principles that govern 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: