is a constructed example used to illustrate irregularities in English
spelling. It is a respelling of the word fish,
and like fish
is . It has,
- gh, pronounced /f/ as in tough /tʌf/;
- o, pronounced /ɪ/ as in women /ˈwɪmɪn/; and
- ti, pronounced /ʃ/ as in nation /ˈneɪʃən/.
The first known published reference is in 1874, citing an 1855 letter that credits ghoti to one William Ollier (born 1824). Ghoti is often cited to support English spelling reform, and is often attributed to George Bernard Shaw, a supporter of this cause. However, a biography of Shaw attributes it instead to an anonymous spelling reformer.
Purpose of irregularities
It has also been noted that many of the irregularities that do exist in English spelling serve to preserve the word's history and etymology. For example, the word "electrician," in which the ci
is pronounced /ʃ/ due to palatalization
, retains a linkage to its root "electricity," which would be lost if the different forms of the word were spelled "elektrishun," "elektrisity," and "elektrik."
The /ʃ/ sound can be spelled eleven ways in English: shirt, sugar, chute, action, issue, ocean, conscious, mansion, schwa, anxious, and special. It is spelled 'ti' only when the 'ti' comes before a vowel, as in nation and initial.
However, "gh" can only be pronounced "f" at the end of the word, as in "tough" or "laugh". The consonant cluster "gh" makes a "g" sound at the beginning of words such as "ghost", and may be silent in the middle of words such as "right".
- In the fictional language of Klingon, ghotI' is the word for fish.
- In the episode of Batman "An Egg Grows in Gotham", Egghead uses Ghoti Oeuf as the name for his caviar business, and Batman explains the reference to Robin.
- Ghoti Hook is a 1990s Christian punk band.