Earliest Reference to "Ghoti"

Alison Murie sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Wed Dec 13 04:05:23 UTC 2006

>I have previously posted a 1938 reference to "ghoti" as a spelling of
>"fish."  This was, I believe, the earliest reference anyone had ever
>Here's a slightly earlier one I just discovered:
>1937 _Garfieldian_ (Chicago, Ill.) 18 Nov. 6/8 (Newspaperarchive.com)  The
>office puzzler came in a moment ago to ask how we would pronounce the word
>ghoti if the gh were pronounced as in rough, the o as in women, and the ti
>as in notion.
>Fred Shapiro
My recollection is that this appeared in one of G.B.Shaw's long prefaces to
a play. Can't remember which one, of course.   I'd have put it much earlier
than '37.  I always thought it was Shaw's own invention. I was an avid
reader of Shaw in my teens, but that was a lo-ong time ago.
  "Ghoti" was a gibe at the oddities of English spelling. He argued for
some reforms of the language. The only one I can think of now that he did
practice in his own writing was omitting apostrophes from words like
/can't, don't, won't /.

~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>

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

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