Words that look weird when spelled

lorenecortez

New Member
english
Hello. I'm sure everyone has experienced this at one time or another... Have you ever been writing or typing and you stop and stare at a word you know you spelled correctly but it just looks weird? Yeah, well that's what this thread is for. Here in this sanctuary feel free to discuss whatever language you speak and the weird words that are part of it. For example:

Awry- Why in the world is it spelled the way it is? A-w-r-y... Who sat down, listened to the word, and sharted those letters down on paper? I typed it in an essay today, sat there for 10 minutes staring at it, and felt really weird and uncomfortable.
 
  • Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, anyone? ;)

    (And that's easy for me to say/write, being a native!)
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The thing is that I belong to the generation which was exposed to huge amounts of written English before they even started to properly learn English. By the mid 90s personal computers were relatively common in Moscow - unlike localized programs and games. That did have some consequences. There are still some old school programmers over here who can basically read English but pronounce it almost as it's spelled - with Russian phonetics, of course.

    (And then was the era of absolutely atrocious pirate translations, heh... Those were the days.)
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    By the mid 90s personal computers were relatively common in Moscow - unlike localized programs and games. That did have some consequences. There are still some old school programmers over here who can basically read English but pronounce it almost as it's spelled - with Russian phonetics, of course.
    Same here in Hungary:

    "delete" [ˈdɛlɛtɛ] :D
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Catalan ingúix for a member of the Ingush people. The graphic accent on that u looks very weird and breaks spelling rules but seems useful in order to pronounce the u, since "ix" stands for sh here and with no mark on the u that u wouldn't be pronounced. And if ¨ was used upon the u to pronounce it , as in other cases, the i should have to be pronounced too.
     
    Α couple of Greek words:

    «Συνωμοσία» [s̠ino̞mo̞ˈs̠i.a] (fem.) --> conspiracy; it's one of those words one's never certain of its orthoɡraphy, the most common misspellinɡ is «συνομωσία» (and frankly the latter seems more loɡical) because the ancient Greek verb from which it derives has a short initial vowel, but due to etymoloɡy, the former is the correct spellinɡ:
    Prefix and preposition «σύν» sún + second member in inseparable compounds (meaninɡ, it's never found alone) «-ωμοσίᾱ» -ōmŏsíā --> takinɡ of vow, with compensatory lenɡtheninɡ of the initial short vowel («*-ομνοσίᾱ» *-ŏmnŏsíā > «-ωμοσίᾱ» -ōmŏsíā) < athematic v. «ὄμνυμι» ómnūmĭ --> to swear, confirm by oath.

    «Περαιτέρω» [pe̞ɾe̞ˈte̞ɾo̞] (adv.) --> beyond, further; aɡain the spellinɡ «περεταίρω» (supposedly from «πέρᾱ» pérā (see its etymoloɡy below) + «ἑταῖρος» hĕtaîrŏs) seems loɡical and easy on the eyes, but the former is the correct one:
    «Περαιτέρω» < adj. «περαῖος» pĕraîŏs with adverbialization of the comparative «περαιτέρος» pĕraitérŏs --> ulterior, to the other side < adv. «πέρᾱ» pérā.
     
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    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    French abbaye [abei]. I've heard it prononced [abɛj] and [abaj], which sound quite logical given the "rules", but which is wrong. Abbéie would be the logical way to write it, according to me.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    Same here in Hungary:

    "delete" [ˈdɛlɛtɛ] :D

    God, we were referring to the undo (ctrl+Z) function as ‘undoredo’ [undɔˈredɔ] in the early 2000s ... :D

    French abbaye [abei]. I've heard it prononced [abɛj] and [abaj], which sound quite logical given the "rules", but which is wrong. Abbéie would be the logical way to write it, according to me.

    I was taught that y basically counts as two i’s which makes it perfectly logical. Abbaye = abbai-ie, pays = pai-is etc.
     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    I was taught that y basically counts as two i’s which makes it perfectly logical. Abbaye = abbai-ie, pays = pai-is etc.
    Yes, but that's the "logical" explanation. But still, it's puzzling. A much more usual word (paye) is prononced [pɛj]. Hendaye (a town) is prononced [ãdaj].
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    You said that "weird" and all the other "exceptions" look weird to you when spelled. If that was meant to be ironic, I'm afraid I missed the irony.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    In Arabic the two common names Amr and Umar would look the same according to traditional spelling rules, because the vowels would not be written. To remedy this, the name Amr is spelled with an additional silent و (which represents the sounds /w/ or /u:/). This has always bothered me because it's Umar that has an /u/ sound, so wouldn't it make more sense to add the silent و to that name? When I see one of these names it always takes me a second to figure out which one it is. I have to stop and tell myself that it's "backwards." :D

    To illustrate this for non-Arabic speakers:

    Amr is spelled XMRU
    and
    Umar is spelled XMR
    :eek:

    (X represents /ʕ/, a sound not found in English.)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I noticed the word "queuers" in an online article today and it threw me for a few seconds. It may be the first time I've ever seen it in writing.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    I noticed the word "queuers" in an online article ...

    _______

    Shouldn't that be "queuers ... on-line" ? ;)

    (At least for Americans to understand the word ... ;) )
     

    Linnets

    Senior Member
    For us Italians very is too simple so someone wrote it *wery that looked "more English". Same for especially hypercorrected in *expecially or esoteric transformed into exoteric (well, it means just the opposite). As for awkwardness is concerned, I think awkward is a very awkward word. In British English Celtic and gaol have a strange spelling. There are many other cases.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    For us Italians very is too simple so someone wrote it *wery that looked "more English".
    Well, same problem in Russian, where [w] is a marginal allophone of /v/ (which definitely sounds "more English").
    The most curious phenomenon, however, is how English [ɛ] or [æ] occasionally transform to [eɪ] - like in coll. стрейч (streych) "stretch fabric", or "бейджик" (béydzhik) "identification badge"; it just must sound "more English".
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    In Russian the sound [h] is a major source of akwkawkwardness. In Russian it's strictly an allophone of the velar sound /x/ (spelled X x), as are all the voiceless fricatives pronounced further back than /x/. However, we do have its voiced equivalent /ɣ/ as a marginal phoneme, together with all the corresponding voiced allophones, especially [ɦ]. Mainly they occur as a result of voicing the /x/ phoneme, but the situation is quite a bit more complicated.

    You see, the voiced [ɣ~ɦ] were originally the main allophones of /g/ (spelled Г г) across a vast territory stretching from the Black Sea steppes to eastern Germany. This original allophony is still faithfully reflected by Russian dialects but by no other Slavic language to my knowledge - in Czech and even the other East Slavic standard languages, Ukrainian and Belarusian, the fricative /ɣ~ɦ/ (spelled Г г) and the stop /g/ (spelled Ґ ґ) were and are separate phonemes. Accordingly, some Russian speakers can theoretically distinguish them as well, and it was this voiced fricative that the [h] of Germanic languages, Latin and Greek was expressed. The trouble is, there was and still is no separate letter for it, so it was spelled with the letter for /g/, Г г. You just had to know when to pronounce it as the fricative (most cases being obvious borrowings).

    But because for most monolingual speakers the two sounds were allophones, almost all the /ɣ~ɦ/ words eventually came to be pronounced with /g/ (the original survives in a couple of borderline cases). So we write and say Gítler (Hitler), Gugó (Hugo), Bagámy (the Bahamas) etc. Now, with well-established words this isn't a problem, since this is the way everyone says them. But when transliterating the rarer and newer ones, one is faced with the problem of /g/ being miles away from [h]; as a result, its preferred transliteration today is X /x/. This is fine when dealing with a language like English that has no other back fricative phoneme; with Czech and Ukrainian the correspondence it etymological; but when it comes to German or Gaelic with their separate /h/ and /x/ phonemes, this is a source of constant gesitation and akwkawkwardness.

    If you ask me, we need to adopt a letter for /h~ɦ/ already.
     
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    S.V.

    Senior Member
    Español, México
    A couple rare ones with ü...ü in Spanish. Güegüecho (neck waddle; veveyotl), güergüero (throat). Some high-frequency words in Mex. Spanish are then seen with h ~ w ~ g. Güero, huero, wero (blond, dude), güey, wey (dude; buey, 'ox').

    A few with ñ...ñ like ñáñaras, ñañito.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    A couple rare ones with ü...ü in Spanish. Güegüecho (neck waddle; veveyotl), güergüero (throat). Some high-frequency words in Mex. Spanish are then seen with h ~ w ~ g. Güero, huero, wero (blond, dude), güey, wey (dude; buey, 'ox').

    A few with ñ...ñ like ñáñaras, ñañito.

    Did you by any chance mean "neck wattle"?
     

    S.V.

    Senior Member
    Español, México
    Oh, I do wonder how many languages relate it to turkeys. :p Turkey neck, pavada.

    Screen-Shot-2019-11-16-at-1.22.58-PM.png
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    If you ask me, we need to adopt a letter for /h~ɦ/ already.
    /ɦ/ exists in two Russian words or so at the moment (for some speakers probably in no words at all). Why in the world would one want to extend its usage and even introduce a new letter for that? You can never have enough letters to reflect all possible foreign phonemes anyway, mind you. For that purpose /x/ is good enough, it's not like you're going to mix up some important words because we lack the letter for /ɦ/.
     
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