Sacred Manuscripts Boast Secret Ciphers

By Thorpe, Susan | Word Ways, November 2007 | Go to article overview

Sacred Manuscripts Boast Secret Ciphers


Thorpe, Susan, Word Ways


In Orthograffiti (WW78217), Richard Lederer showed that a single sound can be demonstrated by many different letters. The sounds which concern us here are the long vowels, specifically the sounds of the 5 major vowels, A,E,I,O and U as they are pronounced in the reading of the alphabet. The sound symbols are those of the Phonetics List of the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition. However, I include a further parameter. The long vowel sound must either be preceded, or succeeded, by the short 's' sound. The latter was chosen because it comes in a range of letter combinations. It was not chosen so that plurals could be used. In fact, most s-ending plurals end with the short 'z' sound!

Many of the variant forms in the OED may also qualify as examples of the genres below but have not been included because they are not phoneticized individually. Letters which immediately follow the required sound, and which are obviously silent letters, are not included as part of that sound. Thus the -igh of 'sigh' is deemed not to be a variation of the long I sound.

long 'A' sound followed by short 's' sound.... (phonetic eIs)

AC       ace, awl, face, glacier
AIS      waist, dais
AS       asyllabic, basic, casein, waste
AYC      Jaycee (US coll.--a member of the junior chamber
EC       precis\of commerce)
EIS      obeisance, braaivleis (a barbecue), millreis (coin)
EYS      greystone, geyser
UES      roquesite (a sulphide of copper and indium CuIn[S.sub.2])

AIC      plaice
AISS     caisson, bouillabaisse, traiss (trace)
ASS      bass
AYS      playsome, Malaysian
EES      keeshond (a variety of the spitz dog)
ES       mesa, Keres (a Pueblo Indian people)
EYSS     Seyssel (the name of 2 villages on the upper Rhone)

short 's' sound followed by long 'A' sound.... (seI)

CE       acequia (a canal for irrigation), fiance
SA       sacred, dispensation
SAI      saint, sailor
SE       Seder (Passover service), Luiseno (a Shoshone Indian people)
         shimose (a high explosive), seance
SI       sind (to rinse), Sinaic
SSAY     essay(ette)
SSEH     medresseh (a Muslim college)
SZAI     szaibelyite (a hydrous borate of magnesium)

CEE      fiancee
SAE      saeter (a meadow associated with a dwelling)
SAY      saying, calisaya (a valuable Peruvian bark), soothsay
SEI      seigniorial, seine (a fishing net), abseil, nisei \sayyid
SEY      Seychelles, causey (a dam)
SSA      decussate, glissade, cessation
SSE      masse (a billiards term), chausse (shod)
SSEI     nissei (an American born of Japanese parents)
ZE       piazze (var. 'piazza', an Italian public square)

long 'E' sound followed by short 's' sound.... (i:s)

AEC      aecidial, faeces
EAC      peace
EC       ecize (re. plants--to colonize), perithecium,
EES      eesome (attractive to the eye), teesoo (Dhak flowers)
ES       Esau, thesis, obese
IC       ici, police
IES      gieseckite (variety pinite), Schoenflies (mathematician)
IS       isblink, artiste, piste, ambergris, kris
ISS      pelisse (a fur garment), camiss (a Muslim shirt)
OES      oestrin

AES      aestivation, quaestor
EAS      Easter, yeast, grease, increase
EEC      fleece, Greece
EIS      eis-blink, leister (a fishing spear)
EYS      keystone
IEC      piece
IIS      iisblink (a luminous appearance on the horizon)
          caused by the reflection of light from ice)
OEC      oecist (the founder of an ancient Greek colony), dioecy
IX       Dix (the lowest trump in Bezique and other card games)

short 's' sound followed by long 'E' sound.... (si:)

C        C--the letter C
CE       cedar, ceanothus, ibices, panacea, circe
CEE      ceefax, dicees, proceed, seducee
CEY      ceylonite (a ferruginous variety of spinel from Ceylon)
CIE      cieling, abcie
CY       cypres (in Law, means 'as near as practicable')
SAO      Saorstat eirann (Irish Free State)
SEA      season, heartsease, Chelsea
SEI      seiff (old type of eye-wash), casein, disseisee
SI       sikh, arsine, Farsi
SSAE     thalassemia, vibrissae
SSEE     lesseeship, assessee
SSI      assize (parallel beds of rock agreeing in their
         organic remains)
SY       Sylow (P. … 

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Sacred Manuscripts Boast Secret Ciphers
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