General Question

basp's avatar

Why isn't "phonetics" spelled phonetically?

Asked by basp (4806points) September 12th, 2008 from iPhone

I’ve always wondered why the word “phonetic” isn’t spelled like it sounds as the meaning of the word might imply. We should be spelling it “fonetiks”. Right?

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10 Answers

EmpressPixie's avatar

The same sort of miserable cruelty that puts an “s” in lisp. (Also phonemes)

robmandu's avatar

Are you sure you want to get crazy about absolute phonetic spelling? Because, if so, then phonetics would really be spelled as: /fəˈnɛtɪks/. Um, no thanks.

@empresspixie: or would it be more cruel to spell it lithp?

EmpressPixie's avatar

@robmandu: it would be more accurate

Side note: I once got really into phonetics and used it as a “secret language” in my journal.

JackAdams's avatar

For the same reason that there isn’t a synonym for Thesaurus, which as everyone knows, existed almost during the same paleolithic period as the Stegosaurus.

gailcalled's avatar

Thank the ancient Greeks; who had Phi ( Uppercase Φ, lowercase φ or ϕ) as part of their alphabet. Others are Chi (uppercase Χ, lowercase χ),
Psi (uppercase Ψ, lowercase ψ) and Xi (uppercase Ξ, lowercase ξ).

Plus two e’s (eta and episilon) and two o’s (omicrom and omega).

robmandu's avatar

< < impressed by all the unicode chars

gailcalled's avatar

@Rob:nah—copy and paste. (Mac makes it easy and also gives me the choice of many keyboard chars, including Cyrrilic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc.)

cwilbur's avatar

It is spelled phonetically. There’s a direct correspondence between the letter combinations used to spell the word and the pronunciation of the word.

If you’re trying to spell it based on the sound, you need to know to use ‘ph’ rather than ‘f’, because it’s a word of Greek origin. This doesn’t make it any less phonetic.

Snoopy's avatar

….or how about that the cruel Gods of language end “dumb” w/ a silent “b”? Kinda setting someone up to fail, isn’t it?

JackAdams's avatar

And ending “Autumn” with a silent “n?”

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