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Ghoti Spells Fish

bigstockphoto_Tiger_Fish_703048How many of you remember your parents or siblings drilling you for the upcoming spelling bee when you were in grade school? R-E-A-D spells “read.”  I like to read.  But wait, R-E-A-D also spells “read,” as in, “I read a good book yesterday.”  English is a funny language when it comes to spelling and the correspondence between letters and sounds.   This is partially because the English language has held on to much of its Old English orthography.  This is a benefit when reading somewhat old historical texts. But, it’s not so great when it comes to teaching spelling, reading, and writing. I’m sure many ESL and elementary school students would agree. Indeed many native adult English speakers, including yours truly, still struggle with spelling.  Isn’t that why they invented spell check?

So take a look at this: G-H-O-T-I spells “fish.”  You may think I need to go back to the 1st grade, but what if told you the letters ‘gh’ make the [f] sound? Still think I’m crazy?  What about the ‘gh’ in the words enough and rough?  The –o in “women” makes the same sound as the letter –i in “fish.”  And finally, “Nation” and “station” both have the ‘ti’ combo that sounds like /sh/. So, there you have it.  G-H-O-T-I spells fish!

Do you know of any other examples of fun things like this?

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  • View 3 Comments
    • LOL. YOU’RE SUCH AN IDIOT. “gh” cannot produce the “f” sound if it is at the beginning of the word. “ti” cannot produce the “sh” sound if it is not followed by a vowel. So “ghoti” is not pronounced as “fish”, it would be simply “go-ti”.

    • Joseph,
      So right you are! Thank you for your valuable and informative contribution.
      However, I think you may have misunderstood my post. I am aware that ghoti can not really spell fish. I was simply emphasizing the lack of a 1 to 1 correspondence between letters and sounds in the English language.


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