24 November 2004

Big fat lie

Why do we teach this to children?

I before E
except after C
and when sounded like A
as in neighbor and weigh

.... with just a few exceptions:

  • ancient
  • caffeine
  • concierge
  • conscience
  • deity
  • efficient
  • either
  • Fahrenheit
  • feisty
  • financier
  • foreign
  • forfeit
  • height
  • heist
  • heinous
  • kaleidoscope
  • keister
  • leisure
  • obeisance
  • protein
  • reify
  • reïnforce
  • science
  • seismic
  • seize
  • slight
  • society
  • sufficient
  • their
  • weird
  • ....


Erik said...

It could be argued that conscience and ancient employ the i as a device to modify the preceding consonants, that their and deity are properly pronounced with a long a, that weird and protein used to be pronounced with a long a, that science and society employ the i as a long i, that Fahrenheit is a foreign name, and that either is simply a freak occurrence, but the truth is that standardized spelling in the English language is a mess, and all attempts to teach it are simply kludges. Cf. Samuel Webster, hack and language fascist.

Anonymous said...

It looks like maybe you're ignoring the "except after C" part.

Jonathan Korman said...

Sharp eye, Anon. I included a few items from another list which proved to contain a few words which obeyed the “cei” rule.