What is "ghoti"? (notes by Jim Scobbie)(Spelling)
It's an alternative spelling of "chestnut". :-) O.K., it's "fish", re-spelled by a Victorian spelling-reform advocate to demonstrate the inconsistency of English spelling: "gh" as in "cough", "o" as in "women", "ti" as in "nation". "Ghoti" is popularly attributed to George Bernard Shaw. But Michael Holroyd, in _Bernard Shaw: Volume III: 1918-1950: The Lure of Fantasy_ (Chatto & Windus, 1991), p. 501, writes that Shaw "knew that people, 'being incorrigibly lazy, just laugh at spelling reformers as silly cranks'. So he attempted to reverse this prejudice and exhibit a phonetic alphabet as native good sense [...]. But when an enthusiastic convert suggested that 'ghoti' would be a reasonable way to spell 'fish' under the old system [...], the subject seemed about to be engulfed in the ridicule from which Shaw was determined to save it." We have not been able to trace the name of the "enthusiastic convert". Bill Bedford (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes: "I seem to remember a film/TV clip of Shaw himself referring to this - but don't ask for chapter and verse." It has also been suggested that "ghoti" could be a spelling of "huge": "h" having its usual value, [h]; "g" making [j], the sound of "y" in yes, after the *following* consonant as in "lasagne"; "o" = [u] as in "move", "t" = [d] as in "Taoism", and "i" = [Z] as in one pronunciation of "soldier". In the same vein is "ghoughpteighbteau": P hiccough O though T ptomaine A neigh T debt O bureau Supposedly, this is an example of how awful English spelling is, and why it ought to be reformed. In fact, it argues that English spelling is kind and considerate, and easy. Why? Because "potato" *isn't* spelled "ghoughpteighbteau". It's spelled "potato"! O.K, O.K., "neigh" isn't spelt "ne", and we can get into all the old arguments, but these really fun examples overstate the case and strike those of us opposed to spelling reform as self-defeating.
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