Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Tue Feb 3 10:07:46 UTC 2004

Thanks Fred for the unsigned Christian Science Monitor citation of what
a "foreigner" might think. I guess that isn't the first. I guess James Joyce
didn't get it from that publication.

The biography of Bernard Shaw isn't quite clear to me. Vol III, p. 501 presents
GBS as worried about ridicule, regard of spelling reform as a crank subject.
Yet why would the ghoti mention, as old spelling system, supposedly (though
linguists today deny it, contextually), be worrying? Michael Holroyd apparently
assigns it to an enthusiast. The next sentence calls James Lecky an enthusiast.
So, I thought, was he the coiner? Not as far as he knows, Prof. Michael McMahon
(linguist, phonetic expert, historian, and writer on Lecky) told me.

The Real Professor Higgins: The Life and Career of Daniel Jones [1881-1967] by
Beverley Collins and Inger Mees (1999) provides much on Shaw and Jones, but no
ghoti, unless I missed it. Here, though, Jones is the expert and Shaw the
linguistics rooky or enthusiast.

Times of London 2 Nov 1943 p2
A Hard Spell for Fish
Professor Jones on Sounds and Letters
Dr. Daniel Jones...speaking on "Reform of English Spelling" astonished his
audience at the college last night by suggesting the word "fish" could be
spelled "ghoti"...

Would Jones have used the invention of an enthusiast? Would he be quoting an
earlier publication of his own?

Stephen Goranson

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