R.L.Venezky (1999), The American Way of Spelling, Guilford, New York

Vivian Cook 
Writing System Home

General Principles

1

Variation is tolerated

2

Letter distribution is capriciously limited

3

Letters represent sounds and mark graphemic, phonological and morphemic features

4

Etymology is honoured

5

Regularity is based on more than phonology

6

Visual identity of meaningful word parts takes precedence over letter-sound simplicity

7

English orthography facilitates word recognition for the initiated speaker of the language, rather than being a phonetic alphabet for the non-speaker

R.L. Venezky (1970), The Structure of English Orthography, Mouton

Consonant Correspondences (position is given as I (initial), M (Medial), F (final))

            position                    sound      examples/conditions

<b>     I, M, F (rare)                 ø          <bt> debt, <mb> bomb
                                                /b/        otherwise: bet

<c>      I, M, F (mostly <ic>) /t§/       cello, concerto
                                                ø          victual, czar
                                                /s/        before <i/y/e> cell
                                                /k/        otherwise come

<ch>    I, M, F                         ø          fuchsia, yacht
                                                /k/      before <l/n/r>: Christ; plus short list: ache, chorus, etc
                                                /§/        in short list: cache, moustache etc
                                                /t
§/       otherwise: chart

<ck>    F                                 /k/        back

<d>     I, M, F                         /t/         after unvoiced C in -ed: looked
                                                ø            between <n> and <C>: handkerchief
                                                /dj/       in /dju:/ dune
                                                /d/        otherwise deal

<dg>   F                                  /dZ/      ridge

<f>      I, M, F                         /v/        only example: of
                                                /v/        morpheme-final before pl -s: calves
                                                /f/        otherwise: fun

<g>     I, M, F (monosylls)       ø         seraglio, intaglio
                                                /½/        mirage etc
                                                /g/        before <e, i, y> in short list: giddy, tiger, etc
                                                /g/        in <-ger> eager
                                                /d
½/      otherwise before <e, i, y>: gesture
                                                /g/        otherwise: grammar

<gh>   I, F,  <-ght>                /k/        hough
                                                /f/        cough
                                                /g/        initial: ghost, aghast
                                                /g/        short list: spaghetti, sorghum
                                                  ø          otherwise: thought

<h>     I, M, F (Post V)           ø          heir, honest, etc
                                                ø          before C and final post V: ohm, hurrah
                                                /h/       otherwise initial: hit

<j>      I (+back V), M           /d½/       jest etc
                                                /
Z/        bijou

<k>     I, M, F                         /k/        regularly: kit
                                                /ø/        a few words with <n>: knife, knight

<kh>   rare                              /k/        khan. khaki

<l>      I, M, F                         /r/        only example: colonel
                                                /ø/        would, half, etc
                                                /l/         otherwise: lad

<m>    I, M, F                         /n/        only example: comptroller
                                                /ø/        <mn>; mnemonic
                                                /m/       otherwise; time

<n>     I, M, F                         ø          autumn, kiln (sic)
                                                //        before /k/: sink
                                                /n/        otherwise: nod, don, end

<ng>   F                                  /N/        ring

<p>     I, M, F                         ø          corps, pneumonia etc
                                                /p/        otherwise: super

<ph>   I, M, F                         /f/        everywhere: seraph
                                                /v/        nephew

<pph> M                                 /f/        two words: sapphire, Sappho

<q>     I, M (+<u>)                /k/        queen

<r>      I, M, F                         /r/        road [VC British English has ø before C]

<rh>    I(+V), M, F rare          /r/        rheostat

<rrh>  rare                              /r/        catarrh, diarrhea

<s>      I, M, F                         ø          aisle, debris etc.
                                                /s/        inflectional: fights
                                                /z/        after voiced C and short list: leads, as, has
                                                /s/        final and initial otherwise: son, us
                                                /s/        in cluster: mistress
                                               
/§/         short list: sure, sugar; voiceless medial, tissue

                                                                     /Z/        measure
                                                                     /z/        otherwise: lose

<sch>                                      /§/        schnapps: British: schedule

                                                                     /sk/      scheme

<sh>    I, M, F                          /§/        shrimp

<t>      I, M, F                         ø          depot, mortgage, etc and

                                                                    ø          stressed -et: buffet
                                                                    
ø          <-sten> fasten, listen
                                                                    
ø          <-stle> bristle
                                                                      /
Z/        equation
                                                                      /
§/        t+V+V: nation
                                                                     /t/         otherwise: top

<tch>  mostly F                     /t§/       match, Tchaikovsky

<th>    I, M, F                         /t/         short list: thyme, Thames
                                                   ø          short list: isthmus, asthma
                                                //        in function words: the, they etc
                                                 /
/        medial in <-the(r)>: rather
                                                 /
T/        otherwise: mouth, thank
<u>     after <q>                     ø          after <q> in word ending: banquette
                                                ø          in quay, queue etc
                                                /w/       elsewhere ???????

<v>     I, M                             /v/        vile, live, evil

<w>     I (Before V)                ø          answer, two etc
                                                /w/       otherwise: dwarf, swim

<wh>   I                                  /h/        who, whore, whole etc
                                                /w/       /hw/ 'in most American dialects: whopper [VC                                                                                                                                       British English /w/ white]

<x>     I, M, F                         /ks/      mix

                                                                     /z/        Xena, xenophobe

<y>     I (100 odd words)       /j/         yes, yolk

<z>      I, M, F (rare)               /s/        in final <-tz>: Ritz
                                                /z/        otherwise: zebra


Venezky Notes

aim: ‘to show the patterning which exists in the present orthography’ (p.11)

scope: 20,000 most frequent words of English

system: spelling-to-sound correspondences

what is a unit?
    functional spelling units, not individual graphemes
    system of markers; ‘ one or more graphemes whose primary function is to indicate
   
      the correspondence of relational units or to preserve a graphotactical or         
          morphological pattern’; u on guest no dg; e notice 9s0

sequence of application of rules from x to y
    invariant: f>/f/ only exception of, almost ck, m, y, z
    regular variants: c>/s/ before e i y, elsewhere /k/, k>/k/ except before n
        position alone gh initial versus final
morpheme boundaries ph shepherd no h uphill hothead
inflectional rules pres tense s
markers: final v must have a vowel e
alternations: i/y u/w suade

Conclusions:
base form phonemic
derived from morphemic