Magazine article Word Ways

Fecund Phonetics

Magazine article Word Ways

Fecund Phonetics

Article excerpt

The same letter, or group of letters, can have different pronunciations and hence be represented by different phonetic symbols. This is demonstrated in Unusual Words (2008145) and Arbitrary Words.

Conversely, the same phonetic symbol can represent different letters or group of letters. For example, both the E and I in PHONETIST are pronounced as is the I in PIT. A phonetist is a person versed in phonetics.

Each of the words below has more than one identical phonetic symbol represented by a different letter or group of letters. The phonetic symbol is given first, together with the different letters/letter groups it represents in the words listed.

The phonetic symbols are those used in the phonetics list of the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Ed.



i: (as in bean) e ee ie ea ae y i eo ei ey ui oe defreeze piecemeal faeces completability Timorese repeople preconceive Ceylonese Guianese synoekete (an insect that lives harmlessly with ants or other\ social insects)

a: (as in barn) ar a ah aa armada Bar- Mitzvah aardvark

o: (as in born) aw or au ar o hawthorn augmentor Warsaw Porlock (a town in Somerset, U.K.)

u: (as in boon) oo oe u hoopoe (a bird) schussboomer (a fast downhill skier)

e: (as in burn) ir or er ur ear birthwort (a shrub genus) perturbation earthworm

e: (as in schnee--German) ee e beerenauslese (a sweet white wine)

a: (as in tag--German) a ah schlagsahne (whipped cream)

O: (as in Goethe--German) eo o Eotvos (a Hungarian physicist)

The combination of the phonetic symbols j (sometimes regarded as a semi- vowel) and u: (ju:) is pronounced as the letter U in the alphabet, and also as the whole words you and yew: ju: eu u

euthutropic (describes certain earthquake shocks)


I (as in pit) e i y a u ie ee ae ey ce bewitch fifty arbitrage busy busied breeches phonaesthetic finney (local name of finnan haddock) phoenician (a crimson colour) idiocy (nb. first and last letters)

e (as in pet) e ea ae a eo o et ue ei bedspread aesthetic Demerara enfeoff encrimsoned estaminet pedagoguette (a nonce word for a school-mistress) Seignette (a 17th century French chemist)

A (as in cull) oo u o a bloodsucker honeysuckle shaddup (shut up!) ugglesome

a (as in pot) o a codswallop

e (as in another) er ar e a o ou u y afterwards adversary abdomen arsenous agapanthus bylina (a Russian traditional heroic poem) buffoonery


e~ (as in fin- French) ai e maintien (bearing, deportment)

a~ (as in franc--French) en ant am an em penchant campan (a marble) ensemble

o~ (as in bon French) om on compagnon


eI (as in ate) e ee ai ay a oe ey er et Elysee railway chambermaid ternstroemiaceous hey- day Perrier-Jouet

aI (as in bite) i y ai ei eye ye ey uy ae identify cyanide Isaianic microseismic eyesight dye- line geyerite (arsenide of iron) huyssenite (a borate & manganese and iron) paedeia (in ancient Greece,\ society' culture)

eU (as in so) o oa ow overcoat lowermost

aU (as in now) ou ow outbow countdown

Ie (as in peer) e ia ea ie iu io arterial funereal experience bacterium exterior

Ee (as in pair) eh er ehrenbergite (a silicate of alumina, allied to fuller's earth)

Ue (as in tour) oo o voorloper (a boy who walks with a team of oxen) kokerboom (a large Aloe plant)

oe (as in boar) or ou o fore-court fourscore


aIe (as in fire) ye io i iro syenodiorite (a type of rock) tiring-irons


These words each have a doubled phonetic symbol. …

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