Home  »  The American Language  »  Page 246

H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 246

But not when a wrong pronunciation will be suggested: bakt, fact (for faced), etc.

  1. When ei is pronounced like ie in brief substitute ie: conciet, deciev, wierd.
  2. When a final ey is pronounced y drop the e: barly, chimny, donky, mony, vally.
  3. When final gh is pronounced f substitute f and drop the silent letter of the preceding digraph: enuf, laf, ruf, tuf.
  4. When gh is pronounced g drop the silent h: agast, gastly, gost, goul.
  5. When gm is final drop the silent g: apothem, diagram, flem.
  6. When gue is final after a consonant, a short vowel or a digraph representing a long vowel or a diphthong drop the silent ue: tung, catalog, harang, leag, sinagog. But not when a wrong pronunciation would be suggested: rog (for rogue), vag (for vague), etc.
  7. When a final ise is pronounced ize substitute ize: advertize, advize, franchize, rize, wize.
  8. When mb is final after a short vowel drop b: bom, crum, dum, lam, lim, thum. But not when a wrong pronunciation would be suggested: com (for comb), tom (for tomb), etc.
  9. When ou before l is pronounced o drop u: mold, sholder. But not sol (for soul).
  10. When ough is final spell o, u, ock or up, according to the pronunciation: altho, boro, donut, furlo, tho, thoro, thru, hock, hiccup.
  11. When our is final and ou is pronounced as a short vowel drop u: color, honor, labor.
  12. When ph is pronounced f substitute f: alfabet, emfasis, fantom, fonograf, fotograf, sulfur, telefone, telegraf.
  13. When re is final after any consonant save c substitute er: center, fiber, meter, theater. But not lucer, mediocer.
  14. When rh is initial and the h is silent drop it: retoric, reumatism, rime, rubarb, rithm.
  15. When sc is initial and the c is silent drop it: senery, sented, septer, sience, sissors.
  16. When u is silent before a vowel drop it: bild, condit, garantee, gard, ges, gide, gild.
  17. When y is between consonants substitute i: analisis, fisic, gipsy, paralize, rime, silvan, tipe.
  Obviously this list is far ahead of the public inclination. Moreover, it is so long and contains so many exceptions (observe rules 1, 4, 6, 12, 14, 15, 21, 23, 24 and 28) that there is little hope that any considerable number of Americans will adopt it, at least during the lifetime of its proponents. Its extravagance, indeed, has had the effect of alienating the support of the National Education Association, and at the convention held in Des Moines in the Summer of