Friday, June 22, 2012

How do you pronounce “ghoti”?

It’s been said, “only someone without a creative mind spells words the same way each time.” It gives me some measure of comfort. I’ve never been a good speller. In fact, spelling has been something of a mystery my whole life. In elementary school, junior high and high school, I would always do poorly on spelling tests—even those I studied for. I’ll admit, when my friends would do well, I felt stupid that I couldn’t keep up with them.

I remember sitting in a class in elementary school. We were taking a spelling test. The teacher would say the word out loud, and then using it in a sentence. One of the words I got hung upon was “women.” I ended up spelling it “wimen” because that is how it sounded.

And then there was the class where a teach wrote the word “ghoti” on the blackboard and asked us how to pronounce it. Most people said “goat-tee” or a variation of that. She said it was pronounced “fish.” Fish? How what the possible? She then broke it down. She wrote the word “enough” on the board. What sound did the “gh” make? It made the “ffffff” sound. And then she wrote “women.” What sound did the “o” make? It made the “i" sound in fish. Lastly, she wrote the word, “action.” What sound did the “ti” make? It made the “sh” sound. Therefore, you have the word “fish.”

The teacher went on to explain that spelling was more of memorization than anything else. One thing that helps with memorization is repetition.

I’ve stated in other blogs that I’ve always had a desire to write, but my creative mind and spelling don’t get along. When I was younger, I’d get hung up on how to spell a word and would have to look it up. By then, the creative part of me that was writing would often go on vacation. The other side is that if I didn’t spell things right, people would get distracted and wouldn’t enjoy the story.

What I’ve found with modern word processor programs with spell check and auto-correct is that I’ve actually become a better speller with its help. For example, the word “interrupt”. For some reason, I don’t want to spell that word with two “r”s. I can’t explain why. However, since I’ve had it corrected so many times for me, I’ve learned how to spell it.

So, for those critics out there who say that spell check is hurting people’s spelling ability because they don’t have to focus on learning to spell, I say “pppppshhhhhhhhh”.

Without spell check, most of the sentence in this blog would look like this: “ownley sumwon with owt uh createiv mined spels wurds thuh saim whay ech timuh.”

Here are some more examples of spelling gone wrong:


1 comment:

  1. LOL. I'm also a terrible speller. I don't like to memorize things. And I agree, spell checker has allowed me to write but also I've become a better speller.