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Click here for an index to words discussed throughout this project, in chronological order, most recent first, from the commencement of the project on June 1st, 2004 thru January 2017; and here for words added from February 1st, 2017 onward..
Click here for an index to words discussed throughout this project from A-M, and here for an index to words discussed throughout this project from N-Z, in alphabetical order.
(Within the webpages noted above are clickable links to all the discussions, organized by quarter year.)
here for a list of possible future
Click here for the principles that govern the selection of words for this project.
Click here for a list of words rejected for this project because of those principles.
Click here for links to other websites concerned with spelling.
(In general, only the base form of a word to be revised is given,
but closely related forms, such as inflected variants of a verb or a noun
created from the verb take the same change (e.g, the reform of "saturate"
to "sachurate" carries over to "sachuration", "sachurated", and "sachurating";
"abizmal" carries over to "abizmally"; and so on.)
The distribution of words that require reform is wildly uneven from one initial letter of the alphabet to another. Ordinarily, we have considered one word a day for each initial letter, but we have just about run out of words in various parts of the alphabet, so will treat of the letters that have many, many words (e.g., C, D, P, M, and S) on multiple days in a row before moving to the next letter in alphabetical order.
Munday, July 31, 2017: "pummiss" for "pumice"
There are two things wrong with the traditional spelling of today's short word. First, the sound of the U is unclear. It could be long-U with an initial Y-glide, as some people say "puma". It could be long-U withOUT an initial Y-glide, as most people say "puma", and might better be written "pooma", were there not that pesky alternative pronunciation of frequent occurrence. Or, still, it could be short-U, the third, and least likely, pronunciation. Of course, it is short-U, this being English, an insanely stupidly spelled language. It is so bizarre that such a terrific language in other regards has the second-craziest spelling 'system' after French. But at least in French, you usually know how to pronounce things.
In any case, to show that the U takes its short sound, we need merely double the consonant after it, here, the M.
Second problem: ICE should be pronounced like the entire word of the identical spelling, meaning frozen water, and pronounced with a long-I. Not here, tho. Here, the I is short. So why is it written with a silent-E after an intervening consonant, as would lead every new learner of English on the planet, child or adult, to think it takes its long sound. No reason. It just IS. We are supposed to take that as reason enuf. It is not.
To show the correct, short-I sound, we need to drop the CE and replace it with SS. Now we finally have a sensible spelling: "pummiss".
My thanks to "yaora..." for this suggestion.
Sunday, July 30, 2017: "poschumus" for "posthumous"
Sometimes I encounter a spelling that is so preposterous that I have to check it in a dictionary. I have two electronic dictionaries on my own computer (the Microsoft Encarta and the American Heritage, and several online dictionaries among my bookmarks). "Posthumous" is one of those RIDICULOUS spellings I had to check. Yup. It really is spelled that stupidly. The first four letters ordinarily spell a word pronounced poest. But not here. Then there is the two-letter sequence TH, which has two sounds, voiced, as in "this" and unvoiced, or voiceless, as in "thick". But not here! Here, the reader is supposed to see the TH as a T, standing in for the CH-sound. That is inexcusable idiocy. But it's the kind of idiocy that makes English so hard to read and write, esp. for children and the billions of people outside the traditionally English-speaking countries who would like to use this most important of all international languages of all time. This project always keeps those billions of people in mind.
A further idiocy occurs in the last syllable of today's word, an OU where there is no OU-sound. Rather, the sound is schwa, which will be clear if we drop the O and leave the U. And so, today, let us offer a sensible respelling: "poschumus".
Saturday, July 29, 2017: "pozzitroneum" for "positronium"
It's Science Saturday again, so let's fix the slitely dopy spellng of a word that means "a short-lived atomic system consisting of a positron and an electron bound together" (Dictionary.com). Let us make that spelling short-lived and replace the idiotic S for a Z-sound with the far more intelligent Z, then double it to show that the O before it is short, and also replace the I before the U with the proper E: "pozitroneum".
Friday, July 28, 2017: "posolay" for "posole" and "pozole"
This Food Friday, let's reform the spelling of a Mexican dish, "a thick, stewlike soup of pork or chicken, hominy, mild chili peppers, and coriander leaves: traditionally served at Christmas and often favored as a hangover remedy" (Dictionary.com).
There are presently two spellings in English, neither of which is clear, in that the final-E is pronounced, as long-A, whereas native speakers of English would see OLE as one syllable, pronounced with a long-O. We need to show that the last syllable is pronounced, and not as a long-E as in "calliope" or "anemone. but as long-A. Further, the current spelling with a Z is misleading. In New World Spanish, Z is ordinarily pronounced as S (tho in parts of Spain it is said as tho a voiceless TH, as in English "thing". So the Z has got to go. Alas, there is no way in standard English to indicate that the word's stress falls on the second syllable. We could write "posólay" if the use of a written accent were part of conventional English, but it is not: "posolay".
Thursday, July 27, 2017: "poschur" for "posture"
T does not spell the CH-sound. CH does. So let's change the T to CH. URE should be pronounced with a long-U, but here the sound is short-U or the sound most commonly spelled ER but also sometimes UR. Let's use that: "poschur".
Wensday, July 26, 2017: "pozziteef" for "positif"
Today's word has the same problems as the first word discussed yesterday (which see), so should take the same solutions. The third syllable of today's word* poses a different problem, an I which does not represent either long-I or short-I, but a long-E! To show that, we should change that I to EE: "pozziteef".
* Microsoft Encarta Dictionary: "a manual that controls the softer stops on a church organ".
Tuesday, July 25, 2017: "pozzit" and "pozzitiv" for "posit" and "positive"
There are two things wrong with both members of this pair of words. First, a single-S leaves unclear whether the preceding-O is long or short. It's short. To indicate that, we need to double the following consonants.
Further, about that consonant, it should NOT be S, because the sound is Z. So let's change it to Z and then double it.
In the second of today's words, the ending IVE should be pronounced with a long-I, as in "five", "strive", and "alive". That is not, however, the sound here, which is short-I. To show that clearly, we need only drop the final-E, which will also save us a letter, which is all to the good: "pozzit" and "pozzitiv".
Munday, July 24, 2017: "porus" for "porous"
Why is there an OU here, when there is no OU-sound? If we drop the needless and misleading O, what remains will be clear, and we will have saved a letter to boot: "porus".
Sunday, July 23, 2017: "pozerr" for "poseur"
"Poseur" is French in form, but part of English, in which its pronunciation is unclear. We can fix that: "pozerr".
Saturday, July 22, 2017: "pyeezoeweelectric/al" for "piezoelectric/al"*
Today's two related Science Saturday words are so insanely spelled that I had to check the pronunciation in three electronic dictionaries. The base term has at least four pronunciations: pie.yée.zoe.wee.lék.trik, pie.yáe.zoe.wee.lék.trik, pee.yáe.zoe.~, and pee.yáet.soe.~. This is what happens when society stands aside and lets people choose their own pronunciation, without ANY guidance from spelling. Madness! Let us end this chaos, select ONE pronunciation for the base word, then apply it to all derivatives: "pieyeezoeweelektric" and "pieyeezoeweelektrical" (plus ~tricity, etc.).
* Microsoft Encarta Dictionary: "the electric current produced by some crystals and ceramic materials when they are subjected to mechanical pressure."
There is no truly simple way to deal with today's polysyllabic mess. The name of this website is "Simpler Spelling Word of the Day", not "Shorter ...", and there just is no way to convey all of these words' many sounds briefly. What makes today's offerings "Simpler" , then, is that they are clear, as can be sounded out easily.
Friday, July 21, 2017: "pretsel" for "pretzel"
This Food Friday, let's address an oddity, a Z pronounced as the letter S, which is the reverse of the usual (absurd) pattern. Z is the voiced sound to the voicelss S-sound. After a voiceless sound, such as T, the following consonant would continue unvoiced. Here, that means S, not Z: "pretsel".
My thanks to "Clap..." for this suggestion.
Thursday, July 20, 2017: "filanthropy" and "fillanthropik" for "philanthropy" and "philantropic"
We have again today one of those myriad idiotic PH's that are intended to convey a simple F-sound. The sound here is not the sequence of P followed by H, as in "uphold", but a single sound, that of F. So let's spell it that way, with an F.
Further, the adjective has a secondary stress on the second syllable, which we should show by doubling the L, but only in the adjective. The noun can keep a single-L: "filanthropy" and "fillanthroppic".
Wensday, July 19, 2017: "polleemath" and "polleehistor" for "polymath" and "polyhistor"
I had heard, and been puzzled by, the term "polymath" for someone expert in many fields. But I'm not sure I checked the etymology until Dictionary.com offered as Word of the Day "polyhistor", which means the same thing as "polymath". When I checked the etymology, I saw that the "math" in "polymath" is related to that in "mathematics" but does not relate to arithmetic or any other type of mathematics. Rather, "polymath" is "< Greek polymathes learned, having learned much, equivalent to poly- poly- + -mathes, adj. derivative of manthánein to learn". How nice.
In any case, a single-L in both words does not make clear whether the preceding-O is long or short. It's short, in both words, so we should double the L. The next problem in both words is that a Y, midword, would regularly be pronounced as long-I ("cyanide", "gynecologist"). To make plain that here the sound is long-E, we can write EE: "polleemath" and "polleehistor".
Tuesday, July 18, 2017: "poeltergyst" for "poltergeist"
LT is a two-letter consonant cluster, which would ordinarily mark any preceding vowel short. But here, that vowel (the O) is long. To show that, we need to write a longer version of that sound. We could write OA or OE. Sometimes OE would be unclear, for representing two vowel sounds, as in "poet". But, then, so might OA represent more than one vowel sound, as in "hypoallergenic". Let's just write OE.
The second problem area in today's word is the EI, which could be said as either long-E or long-I. The proper sound is long-I. To show that better, we can write Y, which, midword, would often be seen as representing long-I ("pyromaniac", "dynamic"): "poeltergyst".
Munday, July 17, 2017: "pocketnife" and "pocketnives" for "pocketknife" and "pocketknives"
The heart of today's reforms is getting rid of the absurd silent-K in the second element of this compound word, singular and plural: "pocketnife" and "pocketnives".
My thanks to "GreenD..." for this suggestion.
Sunday, July 16, 2017: "pius" for "pious"
This is easy. The traditional spelling of today's word writes OU, even tho there is no OU-sound in the word. If we drop the O, we are left with a perfectly clear spelling of the actual sound, which happens also to be the name of 12 Popes of the gigantic Roman Catholic Church, so no one in the traditionally English-speaking countries, all of which are dominantly Christian, is unclear as to how it would be said (with a long-I): "pius".
Saturday, July 15, 2017: "fenollojy" and "fenommenollojy" for "phenology" and "phenomenology"
It's Science Saturday, boys and girls! Time to deal with those uncountable -ologies! Today we deal with two closely related terms. The broader is "phenomenology"; the narrower, "phenology", is related only to climatic effects on nature. But, what the hey, let's fix them both as regards spelling!
They both employ the preposterous and indefensibly absurd spelling PH for a simple F-sound, unlike the literal sound sequence of P followed by H in "uphill" and "uphold". How, pray, are people outside the English-speaking world to know that NOT all sequences of the letters P and H, in that order, are said as tho an F? At any given time, some 2 BILLION people are trying to learn "English",* for the benefits in international communication in all spheres of human activity that mastery of English will endow. Some 1.5 billion can already communicate well, or fairly well, in this most useful of all languages, ever, even if people outside their geographic area might have trouble understanding their oral utterances.
In any case, let's replace the idiotic PH with F.
The next issue is how to deal with the O's. In both words, both O's are short. To make that clear, we need to double the following consonant in both locations.
The last issue is the G in both words, which does NOT represent G's own, unique sound, represented by no other letter, as in "go", "gift" and "get". Rather, the sound is that of the letter J. So let's write J.
Putting this all together, we get: "fenommenollojy" and "fenollojy". .
* There is a lot of misunderstanding about what "English" means, and some people in, for instance, Communist China, think that if they learn British pronunciation, they are speaking English, because "English", after all (they think) refers to "England". Not so fast. "English" actually refers to the language of the Angles, a people of GERMANY before many migrated (peacefully or by violent invasion) to the enormous island of Great Britain, where they eventually established a more-or-less unified polity, "England". But, make no mistake, the LANGUAGE they, and, with variations, their fellow invaders from Germany, the Saxons, spoke, was "English" (spelled "Englisc" in Old English), which had NOTHING to do with the portions of the island in which they settled. The LANGUAGE came FIRST. The name of the polity came LATER.
Friday, July 14, 2017: "portabella" for "portabella", "portabello", and "portobello"
This Food Friday, let's agree on a single spelling for this popular mushroom. The spellings are similar, but we don't need three of them. Let's choose the one closest to the way the word is actually pronounced: "portabella".
Thursday, July 13, 2017: "planshett" for "planchette"*
English is not French, so should not spell things as tho they were French. Contrást Spanish, another great language with comparable numbers of native speakers. Spanish has an exquisitely phonetic orthography, and rarely deviates from it. Where English may have a Y, Spanish substitutes I. Where English accepts a ridiculous PS at the beginning of a syllable, Spanish deletes the P. Where French has a CH that represents an English SH-sound, Spanish (which does not have an SH-sound) writes CH and says a CH-sound. Why can't English have that kind of consistency and courage? We who speak English should have the pride in our language that Hispanics have in theirs, and conform all words to ENGLISH conventions.
I suspect, tho information on this topic is hard to find, that children in Spanish-language countries take less than half as long as children in English-speaking countries to learn how to read and write and do it much more successfully and accurately thereafter than we do.
The sound in the middle of today's word is SH, as in "shush" or "shut up!" So why on EARTH would we spell it CH? And we don't need an E at the end to show that the second syllable takes the word's stress. Just double the T and let it be: "planshett".
* Mir\crrosoft Encarta Dictionary: "a small heart-shaped or triangular wooden board on two casters and with a pencil attached that spells out messages supposed to be from the spirit world when people touch it lightly." Dictionary.com allows of a CH-sound for the CH, but some other dictionairies do not. Let's just guide people to the SH-sound that most authorities assert.
Wensday, July 12, 2017: "peere" for "pier"
PIE should be pronounced like the word to itself for a baked treat, with a long-I. That is not the sound here. Rather, it is long-E. Why does traditional spelling do this so often? It's incomprehensible, and is the kind of thing that causes endless misery for schoolchildren in English-speaking countries. Adults must not forget the misery many suffered in trying to master this madness, but take pity on the young and spare them, of today's generation and generations to come, by fixing the ridiculous and contemptible traditional spelling of English, here: "peere".
My thanks to "Firewall..." for this suggestion.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017: "perifferal" for "peripheral"
Traditional English spelling has some insane and indefensible conventions, such as PH for a simple F-sound. Every single occurrence of that idiotic letter sequence for the F-sound should be replaced, by F or, after a short vowel, as here, FF: "perifferal".
Munday, July 10, 2017: "painwahr" for "peignoir"
The traditional, French spelling of today's word is unreadable in English. That is certainly not to say that it cannot be written clearly for native speakers of English. Quite the contrary, as is so often the case, a couple of minor adjustments, and everybody who knows English will know how to say it: "painwahr".
Sunday, July 9, 2017: "parava" for "pareve", "parveh", and "parve"
Some traditional Jewish food favorites, esp. during major Jewish holidays (such as gefilte fish, some varieties of which taste great), are labeled, in English, as "pareve", which essentially EVERY speaker and reader of English in the traditionally English-speaking countries will read as being said as pa.réev. Nope. It's pór.a.va. How very stupid and annoying. If it's pronounced pór.a.va, let's write it: "parava".
Saturday, July 8, 2017: "parrapleejea" for "paraplegia"
There are (at least) four things wrong with the traditional spelling of this Science Saturday word. (1) AR is ordinarily pronounced as "broad"-A plus an R-sound, as in "bar", "star", and "afar". That is not the sound here, which is, instead that of "arrow", "barrel", and "arrogant". You see how we show that? with A before two R's. Let's do that here.
The second issue is LEG could be seen as in the ordinary word "leg", with a short-E; but here, the E represents a long-E, not short. To show long-E, we need to double the E.
The third problem is that a G stands in for a J-sound, which is common but preposterous. The sounds of the two letters are entirely different, and should be shown by their ordinary spelling, G for the sound in "get" and J for the sound in "jet".
The fourth problem is a little ambiguous, in that different people say the last three letters of the traditional spelling differently. Some say -jea, which should ideally be spelled JEEA; others -ja. which would be spelled JA. Rather than offer two spellings to accommodate the two slitely-different pronunciations, let's just offer JEA for both, and let readers decide how they see that: "parrapleejea"..
Friday, July 7, 2017: "palankeen" for "palanquin" and "palankeen"
Few people today will ever have seen in person the thing to which this word with two spellings refers, tho many will have seen it in movies: (Dictionary.com: "(formerly in India and other Eastern countries) a passenger conveyance, usually for one person, consisting of a covered or boxlike litter carried by means of poles resting on the shoulders of several men." I think one of the Bing Crosby-Bob Hope "road" pictures showed one, tho I'm not sure . The mere fact that something is no longer in existence is no reason to permit an unphonetic spelling to remain in the language. English has innumerable words for things that no longer exist, such as "procurator", "auto da fe", and "tin lizzie". In any case, the spelling with a Q is absurd, whereas the spelling with a K is entirely reasonable: "palankeen".
Thursday, July 6, 2017: "offen/times" for "often/times"
There is an ignorant mispronunciation abroad in the world, in which the silent-T in "often" and derivatives is pronounced, which is WRONG. People who say "ofTen" do NOT say "sofTen". So why do they say "ofTen"? Because the spelling contains a T. It should not. Let's delete the T in these two words and fix that problem forever. Never again will people have to wonder if the T is pronounced. It is not. Move on:
"offen" and "offentimes".
Wensday, July 5, 2017: "obstrepperus" for "obstreperous"
There are two things wrong with today's word. First, EPE could easily be seen by new readers (children in English-speaking countries or people outside the traditionally English-speaking countries) as having a long-E before the P. But that E is short. To show that plainly, we need to double the P.
The second problem is near the very end of the word, an OU where there is no OU-sound. To fix that, we need merely drop the O, which has the additional virtue of saving us a letter, which is always to the good: "obstrepperus".
Tuesday, July 4, 2017: "obliggatory" for "obligatory"
Today's adjective derives from the verb "oblige", but the G is not "soft" (as sounds like J), but "hard" (the letter G's own, unique sound, which no other letter represents). Moreover, in today's word, the I before the G is short, so the G needs to be doubled to show that: "obliggatory".
Munday, July 3, 2017: "niesity" for "nicety"
The present spelling looks as tho it should be pronounced exactly like "nice", plus a second syllable, -TY. But "nicety" is NOT two syllables but three. We might write "nicity", except that the first-I could be seen as representing a short-I, as in "complicity", "duplicity", and "publicity". No, the I here represents a long-I. To show that clearly, midword, we could write Y. Then, in the second syllable, we need to replace the E with I. That would yield "nycity", BUT that would lead a lot of readers to think of "New York City". So we need to revisit the long-I sound in the first syllable, and write not a Y, which would otherwise be short and sweet, but an E after the current I, to prevent misreading: "niecity"..
Sunday, July 2, 2017: "nauzea" and "naushuss" for "nausea" and "nauseous"
SE does not spell the ZH-sound as in "garaGe", "collaGe", and "montaGe". (I have capitalized the G because an underscore beneath a lowercase-G in many fonts almost disappears.) The present spelling of "nausea" has led to a mispronunciation, náu.zha, one syllable short of the correct three-syllable pronunciation náu.zee.a. We can fix that, and guide readers into the correct pronunciation by writing "nauzea".
SE also does not spell the SH-sound, as in "shine" and "shucks", so the spelling "nauseous" is also absurd, and we need to replace the SE with SH. Further, the traditional spelling has an OU letter sequence but no OU-sound. If we drop the needless and misleading O, the U remaining will be pronounced right, as a schwa.
Believe it or not, there is yet another problem with "nauseous". If we leave a single-S at the end, we run the risk of having people outside the traditionally English-speaking countries thinking it is a plural. It is not. So we need to replace the single-S with a double-S, to show at once that it is said with an S-sound and that it is NOT plural: "nauzea" and "naushuss".
Saturday, July 1, 2017: "mithopeeic" for "mythopoeic"*
OE should be pronounced as a long-O, as in "toe". Here, it is to be pronounced long-E. We need to substitute the clearest spelling of long-E: EE. Readers should be entitled to see Y, midword, as being pronounced with a long-I, as in "dynamite" and "hydrate". Here, the sound is short-I, so we should write an I: "mithopeeic".
* Dictionary.com: "of or relating to the making of myths; causing, producing, or giving rise to myths."
We are running low on, or have already run out of, words in need of reform that start in I, J, K, L, N, O, Q, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z. If readers see the need for reform of words that start in any of those letters, and which have not already been used (as recorded in this project's chronological archives) or rejected for this project files, please suggest reforms. But we need not change spellings unless the present spelling is inadequate or misleading, or there is more than one spelling and we need to settle on only one.
Please bookmark this page and stop by regularly. Tell your friends. Tell your teachers. Tell the world!
Tho it would be neater to change all words of a pattern at the same time (e.g., all -OUS endings to -US), that is implied in the change of individual words of that pattern. But traditional English spelling isn't consistent, which is why it is so hard to master. Some words that sound the same are spelled differently (there, their, they're); some words that are spelled the same are pronounced differently (refuse as verb and noun). To impose complete consistency on English without radical reform is impossible. Short of radical reform, then, we can either reform some words or surrender to spelling chaos and do nothing.
English spelling didn't become crazy all at once, but one word at a time. Old English was phonetic, and such variations in spelling as occurred reflected variations in pronunciation. New words have come into the language one by one, with their own individual spelling, sometimes quite unreasonable. In like fashion, we can change some unreasonable spellings to reasonable, one word at a time, inefficient tho that approach may be. See below for radical reform that does address all the issues at once.
* SSWD is a project of L. Craig Schoonmaker, Newark, New Jersey, United States, creator of Fanetik: Reformed (Phonetic) Spelling - at Least for Teaching. [NOTE: On April 5, 2017, I corrected the link above, and the two below. They had pointed to a website I was paying for, but the Australian webhost proved unreliable. So I moved the key files to the free webhost Tripod, which is compensated for its webhosting by ads atop each hosted webpage. These links now point to my free Tripod website.] Phonetic pronunciations on this site are rendered in Augméntad Fanétik, which employs accents for syllabic stress. For information about other ways to change irrational spellings, search the Internet for spelling reform.
Comments? Suggestions? If you have suggestions as to words to reform, please check first if they have already been used or have already been placed on the list of words to be addressed in the future or words that have been considered but rejected. Please also check the principles that control whether a word will or will not be offered. Once you have done that, or for any other purpose, please write to Fanetiks@aol.com. Because, for reasons I do not understand, some people have written under temporary email addresses that are abandoned before I can reply, I will not make personal replies to anyone who (a) does not request reactions and (b) does not provide a valid return email address (which will be checked, before I write any substantive reply, by a test email). And if you'd like credit on this page for any suggestion you make that is used, please provide a name and location (city, state/country) for that credit. Absent a personal name, credit will be given to an abbreviated form of the email address, without the at-sign or domain information (e.g., if the email address is "firstname.lastname@example.org", credit might be made to "mjmart...")