Prescribed spellings or Own Pronunciation?

Hi all,

I have a question about which spelling you use when you write some words that have different pronunciations. English is my second language and mostly learn correct pronunciations from watching stuff. Sometimes several words would have different pronunciations from different speakers (even if native).

I have encountered quite a few in Gregg, that, though minor, sometimes stumbles me. For example, the word “hurry” is spelled “h-e-r-i” and thorough is spelled as “th-e-r-o”. If I were to pronounce them, though, it would be different that I would say and spell “huh-r-i” and “th-o-r-o” instead. Do you follow your own pronunciation instead or the prescribed spellings?

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8 comments Add yours
  1. I am new to it too.  As I understand it, it is based on how it sounds when spoken out loud when reading it back. I suppose then ya-all could record a regional accent in addition to unique words.

  2. If the word is in the textbook, I use that spelling because I'm used to it. I use English spelling for most other words, because that is consistent. If I have the time, I look it up in the Gregg dictionary or ask online. Often they recommend an outline which is easier to write.

    If you're worried you won't be able to read it later, write it in the margin in longhand, then look it up or ask so you're ready for it next time. (Or do what I do, and not worry about it unless I'm sharing it with other Gregg readers.)

    Gregg himself said that the test is whether you can read it.

  3. Before Simplified, the obscure vowel sound heard before r (as in the words "her", "hurry", "fir", and "fur") was sometimes written with the e and sometimes with the oo-hook. The old instruction was specified in paragraph 72 of the Anniversary manual: "It is generally more facile to use the circle for the obscure vowel sound heard in ur as in church, murmur, urge, hurt." So, for example, "her", "hurry", and "fir" are written with the circle, but "fur" with the oo-hook in Anniversary. According to Louis Leslie, this created uncertainty from the part of the learner to decide whether to use a hook or a circle in those words, especially when "fir" and "fur" had the same sound according to Webster. So starting with Simplified and throughout the later series, the rule was changed and that obscure sound is always represented by the e circle, except in two brief forms: "world" and "worth."

    About the word "thorough", in the 1902 Revised Edition the outline was written as if it read "throw" (under th-r-o hook), and "thoroughly" was under th-r-o hook-e. In the 1916 New and Revised Edition, those two words and the word "three" were written with a single brief form: under th-e. This brief form was eliminated in Simplified, giving rise to under th-e-r-o hook for "thorough", following the obscure vowel before r writing convention.

  4. My UK Simplified dictionary has the oo hook in worry and hurry, but uses e in thorough. Borough, which at least in the UK rhymes with thorough is represented by bro. But hey, shorthand is supposed to save time, so where there are no clear, simple rules, we can’t for ever be looking things up in a dictionary. 

    1. Thanks for checking this out, Brian. I know they made changes in the UK dictionary, but I wasn't aware that the stardardization of the -er sound wasn't fully implemented there. Good to know.

  5. Since regional accents may differ, I write it as I myself would pronounce it (for example, the two pronunciations of "either", regardless of which are used, I just write it as e-th(reverse)). That being said, when you are falling behind, you tend not to think about spelling so much! As long as you can read it back correctly and consistently, its correct.

  6. I've been wondering something along the same lines, due to the many differences in English dialect or chronolect. I notice that sometimes Gregg uses pronunciation more like my grandparents, and of course there are many regional dialects even within English-speaking countries, which already have their own country-wide dialects. I don't know about British English, but even standard American English is less standardized than High German.

    As an example, my grandmother says "mature" as "ma-TUR," whereas I say "ma-CHUR." Gregg transcribes it as m-a-t-r. Similarly with "temperature." And "dream" is always spelled with a "d," but in many dialects, including mine, it's pronounced "jream."

    The other day I was contemplating if "war" would be spelled under oo hook-a-r, or under oo-hook-over oo-hook-r. Looking it up in the Anniversary dictionary, I see it's  under oo-hook-over oo-hook, without even bothering with an 'r.' I'm not far enough through Anniversary to know if there's a specific rule that decides that, or it it was just one of those arbitrary things that occasionally seems to crop up in Gregg.

    For the moment, if there's a standard spelling in the dictionary or phrasebook, I'm using it, so that future anthropologists will have an easier time deciphering it. 😛

    1. Whoops, I have some errors in how I describe the hooks. "under oo-hook" should just be "oo-hook" and "over oo-hook" should be "o-hook."

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