English Spelling Topics

Vivian Cook

'I have only to say the word spelling & everyone will see again before him the spectre which haunted our first schooldays and will not leave us in peace even in old age.' Eric Gill


An 1866 spelling machine by Halcyon Skinner


Spelling facts and fancies page  Spelling Games   Letter games   Writing systems in different languages   Examples of scripts   Figures for script users   Direction of writing  Signs and writing  Shapes used as letters Odd public signs  Differences between spoken and written language  Street spelling mistakes   Children's spelling   Pre-writing   Linguistics and writing   Spelling reform (ita, Shavian alphabet etc)  Twain speech   George Bernard Shaw preface   Useful quotations on writing  Some definitions of writing system terms   Novelists' spelling of dialect   Eye dialect The language of the street site


Core English Punctuation   Typefaces and conventions  
Apostrophes:  The greengrocer's apostrophe  Missing apostrophes
   Odd apostrophes
Hyphens   Hyphens as links   its and it's
Omitting word spaces   
General test of punctuation  Frequency of English punctuation marks The colon :   Punctuation of street signs   Capital letters

Computer-Mediated Communication

e-mails   text messages   chatrooms

Novel spellings

Fish and chip shops   Car number plates   Pop groups   Dogs' names  Horses' names   Olde Tyme spelling   House names   'K' spellings  shop signs   Punctuation in names   Numbers as words   Business names etc

L1 Users

English spelling mistakes on the web   Native speaker mistakes   until/till/'til examples  Spelling mistakes by famous writers

Historical English spelling

Changes in the letters of English
Samples of English 940-1749

The and Ye: historical examples

Extra letters added to English spelling

Until/Till facts

Features of English Spelling
Common patterns of English

Letter frequencies for English

Past tense rules in written and spoken English

Letter to sound correspondences

Consonant doubling

Vowel correspondence rules

Silent Letters

Rules for English surnames

Unusual English surnames

I before E
Structure word spelling rules
Linguists' accounts of English spelling  
Venezky   Albrow   Chomsky
British and American styles of spelling

Alternative sound spelling alphabets
'St' as an abbreviation
Spelling Stats Menu

L2 users

Summaries of L2 articles   1400 L2 mistakes corpus 

Spelling mistakes by: Greek users  Chinese users  Spanish users   Japanese users; Engrish.com (external link)  Bengali children  Koreans   
L2 experiments   L2 learners acquiring spelling   
Bilingual public signs


Spelling rhymes 1   Spelling rhymes 2   Spelling spoofs   Spelling 'jokes'    Cockney alphabet    Speech Reform

Spelling articles etc by Vivian Cook

Past tense spelling: implications for lexical spelling and dual process models
Nu Spelin' 4 Old

Getting in a strop about spelling

Helping children with spelling (French translation; Uzbek translation)
Is spelling really hard?

Hard Spell

The Liter Cide to Spelling

Can they spell your name in Karachi?
American and British Spelling

Spelling Tests

Various tests on different aspects of English spelling are available on-line. Other tests


Vivian Cook (2004), The English Writing System, Arnold; Japanese trans 2008
Vivian Cook (2004), Accomodating Brocolli in the Cemetary, Profile. American edition, Simon and Schuster 2005

Vivian Cook and Benedetta Bassetti (eds.) (2005), Second Language Writing Systems, Multilingual Matters. Chinese edition 2007

Vivian Cook and Des Ryan (eds.) (2016), The Routledge Handbook of the English Writing System
Journal: Writing Systems Research



Note: you may need SILDoulos for some of the IPA symbols on these pages to work. It can be downloaded from the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Formerly at homepage.ntlworld.com/vivian.c, which is now defunct