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The first confirmed use of the word is in a letter fromCharles OlliertoLeigh Hunt. On the third page of that letter, dated 11 December 1855, Ollier explains, My Son William has hit upon a new method of spelling Fish. Ollier then demonstrates that Ghoti is Fish.2
The key to the phenomenon is that the pronunciations of the constructed words three parts are inconsistent with how they would be pronounced in those placements. To illustrate:ghcan only resemblefwhen following the lettersou/auat the end of certainmorphemes(cough, laugh), whiletican only resembleshwhen followed by the letters -on/ -al/ -an(station, spatial, martian), etc. The expected pronunciation in English would sound like goaty/oʊti/.1
An early known published reference dates to 1874, citing the above letter. The letter creditsghotito William Ollier Jr. (born 1824).3Ghotiis often cited to supportEnglish spelling reform, and is often attributed toGeorge Bernard Shaw,4a supporter of this cause. However, the word does not appear in Shaws writings,3and a biography of Shaw attributes it instead to an anonymous spelling reformer.5Similar constructed words exist that demonstrate English idiosyncrasies,1butghotiis the most widely recognized.
The Chaos, a poem which demonstrates the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation
An Egg Grows in Gotham, Egghead uses Ghoti Œufs as the name for his caviar business, and Batman explains the reference to Robin.
Kevelson, Morton (January 1986).Speech Synthesizers for the Commodore Computers / Part II.
. Season 2. Episode 13. Event occurs at 13 minutes.ABC
The word is intended to be pronounced in the same way (/fɪʃ/), using these sounds:
,Random House, 1994,ISBN0-517-13035-1
is a creative respelling of the word, used to illustrate irregularities inEnglishspelling and pronunciation.
Examination of the code reveals the string
Ghoti Hookis a 1990s Christian punk band.
: Gee each owe tea eye smells fish. (p.299)
Hau tu pranownse Inglish, an essay on spelling-to-sound rules that discusses ghoti
is used to testspeech synthesizers.
The original letter is housed in the British Library.
allophone-based speech synthesiser software for theBBC Microwas tweaked to pronounce
Re: Spelling BeesDiscussion of speech synthesis programs
Teleplay by Stanley Ralph Ross, Story by Ed Self (19 October 1966).An Egg Grows in Gotham.
, October 1874, page 406 (itself citing an 1855 letter from Ollier to Hunt).
Bernard Shaw: Volume III: 19181950: The Lure of Fantasy
See25 February 2001 at theWayback Machine., citing Holroyd, page 501
Cites S. R. Townshend Mayer, Leigh Hunt and Charles Ollier,