If I was to ask most of you “What is this a picture of?” you would probably answer – a fish. Right? Well, some people would have you believe it is spelled ghoti. No, not goatee, ghoti (pronounced fish). Let me explain:
If you take the gh from rough, the o from women and the ti from ration you have ghoti pronounced fish.
Following the explanation above it would seem as though there is a perfectly logical reason for this spelling of fish to be true, except it isn’t, is it!
Using the same principles you could take the gh from high, the o from jeopardy, the t from potpourri and the i from receive and you’d have a word that no-one could pronounce because it would be completely silent.
The reason neither of the above spellings of fish are correct is because the English language has rules and ghoti does not follow the rules we have in place when spelling words. Can you name any other English word that begins gh and is pronounced f? No, that’s because there isn’t one and it is why, when you look at the word ghoti, you say goatee, not fish. The same applies throughout the ghoti example. There are no words that end in ti pronounced sh, this pronunciation only falls within words, such as motion, fraction, pronunciation.
We could replace all of the letters in fish with ph (from phonics) y (from ygddrasil) che (from moustache). These work much better because all of them are actually pronounced in the same way as the letters from fish (and yes you would have to add the e on the end or it would become ch as in church, rich, catch or k as in epoch, monarch etc.
So the next time someone tries to tell you that fish is spelled ghoti, tell them not to be so silly.