English spelling is broken. Let's fix it!

English spelling is broken. Examples like comb, bomb and tomb, or height and weight, abound. And no-one seems to know whether the down pipe from a gutter is a rone, a rhone, a roan or something else.

English spelling has been chopped and changed by countless scribes, printers, invaders and others since the Roman alphabet was first used to write Old English during the seventh century, and it does not match the way we speak today.  The English Spelling Society exists to repair our broken spelling.

In this website you can discover the past, present and future of English Spelling:

• Discover the amazing history of English spelling — how it came to be the way it is, and what happened to previous attempts to put it right.
• Find out just how crazy English spelling is today — and how much that costs in economic and social terms.
• See what The English Spelling Society is planning to do — and how you can help.

English spelling is broken. Together, we can do something about that.

Latest news

2018-01-13 — Spelling, grammar errors abound in paper More ►

2018-01-13 — The Real Reason Some English Words Have Silent Letters There are legitimate explanations for why words like pterodactyl and tsunami exist. More ►

2018-01-13 — The Most Complicated Word in English is Only Three Letters Long Three little letters, 645 meanings More ►

2018-01-12 — Battle of the words at 2018 District 32 Spelling Bee More ►

2018-01-11 — Aussie kids from migrant backgrounds do better in English than their peers My hunch is that Anglo-Australian kids are suffering from a whole bunch of negative linguistic influences which can be summed up as a general lack of vigilance or care about the state of the English language. More ►

2018-01-09 — Why It’s Right, Education Is Now Focusing On English More ►

2018-01-09 — Denison ISD gets first spelling bee winner More ►

2018-01-09 — The English words Spain begrudgingly added to its dictionary this year Big changes to reading en español More ►

2018-01-08 — You're Probably Pronouncing These British Towns Incorrectly In this week's Maphead, Ken Jennings explores towns with unexpected pronunciations More ►

Page editor: N Paterson. Contact by email or form.
Did You Know:

• Ask your friend what Y-E-S spells. They won't have any difficulty saying yes. Then ask what E-Y-E-S spells. It's easy when it's written down, but surprisingly difficult when it's spoken. See a YouTube video of this.

• Who has not heard i before e, except after c. A University of Warwick statistician put it to the test. He plugged a list of 350,000 English words into a statistical program to see if the math checked out. It didn't.

• When Adam met Eve for the first time, he said Madam, I'm Adam. This is a palindrome — a phrase or sentence in which the letters, words or even lines read the same in either direction. Adam hoped to impress the most beautiful woman in the world, but she more than matched him by replying simply, Eve. Not bad given that writing, and therefore palindromes, and English ones in particular, had not yet been invented! More palindromes, and a wonderful palindromic poem.

• How would you pronounce ghoti? Pronounce it like this:

and you get ... fish! Thanks to Charles Ollier for writing this in 1855 — and for showing that English spelling has been ludicrous for quite some time.

• One of the arguments in favour of keeping English spelling unchanged is to show the etymology of words. For example, the silent s in island shows the link to the Latin insula. But island actually derives from the Old English íglund, not from the Latin at all. More examples at Mental Floss.


Page editor: N Paterson. Contact by email or form.
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Charles Darwin
  • Lord Tennyson
  • Mark Twain
  • Theodore Roosevelt


Page editor: N Paterson. Contact by email or form.