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
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 
British and American styles of spelling
Alternative sound spelling alphabets
'St' as an abbreviation
Spelling Stats Menu


Core English punctuation  

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

The and Ye; Olde Tyme Spelling

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 and English spelling  
Venezky   Albrow   Chomsky

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

Background to the English Writing System
Nu Spelin' 4 Old

Getting in a strop about spelling

Helping children with spelling
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


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