ghoti = fish

Tue Apr 22 21:36:32 UTC 2008

        That sounds really early, conceivably even the origin.  Can you
share the whole thing?

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Matthew Gordon
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 5:11 PM
Subject: ghoti = fish

I don't keep up with the antedating sport that many on this list
participate in, so, please forgive me if this is not news. I checked the
ADS-L archives about the "joke" of respelling 'fish' as <ghoti> and
found posts tracing this back to the 1930s or so. It is popularly
attributed to G. B. Shaw but the consensus seems to be that he didn't
come up with it on his own.

Anyway my university has a trial subscription to the British Periodicals
database and for fun I searched on 'ghoti.' I came up with an article
from an 1874 issue of St. James Magazine that recounts the story of
ghoti. The quote begins "My son William has hit upon a new method of
spelling Fish. As
thus: - G.h.o.t.i., Ghoti, fish...." and continues on to explain the
orthographic connections.

I'm happy to provide further details if anyone is interested.

-Matt Gordon

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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