Has anyone compiled a list of words in American English that are not spelled phonetically? One of my favorites is "gunwale" which is pronounced "gunnel". Thank you in advance for all replies.
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Has anyone compiled a list of words in American English that are not spelled phonetically? One of my favorites is "gunwale" which is pronounced "gunnel". Thank you in advance for all replies.

Don't know about a list. Maybe you can start one with the replies. I expect you will have to differentiate AmE from BrE, and internationalE from regional. Boat and military terminology for many AmE words is inherited or borrowed from BrE, though there may be differences in pronunciation between them. I think you can make your list somewhat more manageable if you bar place names and regional variations such as the "r" added or silent and the "pin-pen" shift, the schwa, etc. Also, you would probably not want to include the diphthongized vowels. Old Virginny "stair" to my ear was "styre".
gunwale (I think BrE and AmE your word for starters) boatswain (ditto)
buoy (I say "boy", but others in AmE say "boo-ey") colonel
sergeant
Come to think of it, observing all the rules for barring words would be so cumbersome as to make your list impossible to complete.
Has anyone compiled a list of words in American English ... is pronounced "gunnel". Thank you in advance for all replies.

Don't know about a list. Maybe you can start one with the replies. I expect you will have to differentiate ... it, observing all the rules for barring words would be so cumbersome as to make your list impossible to complete.

There is one particular word that should perhaps go to the head of the list: "English"

Peter Duncanson
UK (posting from a.e.u)
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Has anyone compiled a list of words in American English that are not spelled phonetically?

A far easier task would be to compile a list of American English words that ARE spelled phonetically.

Michael DeBusk, Co-Conspirator to Make the World a Better Place Did he update http://home.earthlink.net/~debu4335 / yet?
Has anyone compiled a list of words in American English that are not spelled phonetically? One of my favorites is "gunwale" which is pronounced "gunnel". Thank you in advance for all replies.

No one has yet asked you an important question: What do you mean by a word being "spelled phonetically"? There are several possible answers, and a list such as you are proposing would depend upon which definition of "spelled phonetically" you use. (One definition of "spelled phonetically" would definitely be of no use: "Each letter represents one and only one sound and every sound has one and only one corresponding letter." I'm sure you didn't have that definition in mind.)

Raymond S. Wise=20
Minneapolis (Minnesota) =C9.-U.
mplsray @ yahoo . com
Has anyone compiled a list of words in American English that are not spelled phonetically? One of my favorites is "gunwale" which is pronounced "gunnel". Thank you in advance for all replies.

All and none.
Modern American spelling is how it is because it is supposed to denote an Elizabethan English pronunciation and sometimes even older("cough").
On the other hand, all words are the way they are because they are by someone's standards at some point in history, supposed to denote a sound.
Thirdly, English is more phonetic that it seems, if you establish some basic rules, text as the primary key for the language, and speech as a rough way of alluding to the words...
...I.e. disregard the fact that some people say "exit" as "Egsit".

~Iain
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Thirdly, English is more phonetic that it seems, if you establish some basic rules, text as the primary key for the language, and speech as a rough way of alluding to the words... ...I.e.

By which, no doubt, you mean "e.g."
disregard the fact that some people say "exit" as "Egsit".

But that's just what you can't do. For example, the first "e" in "interesting" is silent in one standard pronunciation (the most common, in my experience) of the word, sounded in others. What about the Texas accent, heard from millions of Americans, in which "pen" is pronounced the same as "pin" (hence the phrase "ink pen")? Many a word has multiple pronunciations, some "phonetic," some not depending on what you mean by phonetic.
What do you do with silent letters? Is "chthonian" phonetic" Pphthisis"? "Penumonia"? phonetic. What of "doubt" and "debt"? Is "gnome" phonetic? "Know"? "Aesthetic"? Which is phonetic "honor" or "honour"? "Though" "through" or "tough"? "Move," "rove" or "love"?
Sure there are easy ones, like "colonel." But don't let that delude you into thinking that there's some simple way of determining what's "phonetic" and what isn't.

Bob Lieblich
Whose first name is pronounced "Liebs"
Sure there are easy ones, like "colonel." But don't let that delude you into thinking that there's some simple way of determining what's "phonetic" and what isn't.

Give a man a *ghoti ...

Odysseus
Has anyone compiled a list of words in American English that are not spelled phonetically?

Yes. I headed the development of the Franklin Electronic Publisher's pronouncing dictionary. All 88K words were researched, and they are all pronounced correctly by the dictionary. About 40% of the words are not pronounced as they are spelled. I am including those which change the stressed syllable like "compress".
GFH
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