Earliest Reference to "Ghoti"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Dec 13 18:26:31 UTC 2006

Quoting Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>:

> There's another 1938 cite on Google Books, from Albert Galloway
> Keller's _Brass Tacks_ (p. 16): "It is more than a quip when someone
> offers 'ghoti' as the way to spell 'fish': 'gh'
> as in 'rough,' 'o' as in 'women,' 'ti' as in 'attention.' This is only
> in snippet view, so there's no way of getting more context, but it
> seems to have the same unattributed status as the other cites from
> 1937-38.
> [....]

So far, I see no attribution in the Keller book, now at hand. It's in a
titled on "'Talking like People'" and compares English, German and French. It
has ti as in nation, as does the Garfieldian. What does the Christian Science
Monitor has for ti--nation or attention? (it's not given in ads-l archives).
Living Age March 1941 (via Proquest) cites Manchester Guardian on "Refugee
Phoenetics," with "...ti as in ambition."

Stephen Goranson

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

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