Earliest Reference to "Ghoti"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Dec 13 03:24:56 UTC 2006

On 12/12/06, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> I remember hearing a no doubt ghoti-y tale that the observation was
> due to G. B. Shaw.  A little searching indicates that it is a
> widespread canard (esp. good on toast).  See e.g.
> http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxwhat04.html
> (In this piece, Jim Scobbie doesn't attempt to date the "ghoti" fish-tale.)

For further on this, see my alt.usage.english/sci.lang post from June 2004:


Executive summary: "ghoti" shows up unattributed in 1938 (1937 thanks
to Fred's new cite), then directly attributed to Daniel Jones in 1943,
then vaguely attributed to G.B. Shaw in 1946 by the canard-alicious
Mario Pei (who perhaps was getting Jones and Shaw confused).

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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