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Taking on our spelling adversaries

When it comes to spelling, we've all got a word or two that makes us absolutely bonkers.

It's no wonder. We've got a slew of silent letters. Instead of an f, we sometimes use "gh" or "ph." There are letters like c and k that make the exact same sound, except when they don't.

Let's face it, English isn't exactly known for consistency.

Sure, there are a few rules that you probably learned at some point. For example, "i before e, except after c."

That's a great rule, except for the long list of words that don't follow it -- including science, sufficient, feisty and weird, to name a few. 

English Professor Anne Curzan recently asked her students to pick the word that they would most like to respell. To do this, students created a tournament bracket and had to present arguments for the words they chose.

To find out which words made it to the top of their list, listen to our full conversation above. If you have a word that you would love to see with a different spelling, let us know below. 


Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.
Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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