s, c, k

All English spelling reforms are bad. That’s OK, this is not a spelling reform, it’s a jeu d’ésprit.

They all have a big decision to make: what to do about ‘c’? It can be replaced by ‘s’ or ‘k’ everywhere except in ‘ch.’ But no-one really likes the letter ‘k,’ either, so that’s not very appealing. There is a rule for how to pronounce ‘c,’ though it’s broken so often that many English speakers don’t even know what it is. Here it is: ‘c’ before ‘e’ or ‘i’ is pronounced ‘s’, otherwise ‘k.’ That rule lets us pronounce a word if we know how to spell it, but it doesn’t help with spelling a word if we know the pronunciation. For that we need a new rule, which will also add some weirdness to the mix: the sound ‘s’ before ‘e’ or ‘i’ is always spelled ‘c;’ the sound ‘k’ not before ‘e’ or ‘i’ is also always spelled ‘c.’ This gives us some funny-looking words like ‘cing’ (but still ‘sang,’ ‘sung’), ‘cilly’ and ‘cexy,’ as well as ‘cosher,’ ‘corea’ and ‘King Cong.’ No problem.

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