Q. Pheevr (q_pheevr) wrote,
Q. Pheevr

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Beyond ghoti

Speaking of names, I can't help reflecting on the troubles of that great, cantankerous Anglo-Irish playwright (and amateur phonetician) George Bernard Psschaughal, whose last name was, of course, notoriously difficult to spell....

G. B. Psschaughal
portrait by Bernard Partridge

[Setting: Stockholm, 1925]

G. B. Psschaughal: Good afternoon. I'm here to collect my Nobel Prize for literature.

Hapless Swedish Clerk: Certainly, sir. Your name...?

[Psschaughal glares at the Hapless Swedish Clerk.]

HSC: ...is famous to educated persons the world over, of course, sir, but just, er, for the record?

GBP: Psschaughal. George Bernard Psschaughal.

HSC: Ja. Of course. Just a moment, sir. [Rifles through papers.] Er, I don't seem to see...

GBP: That's because you're looking under S, you incorrigible ignoramus.

HSC: Ah. Er, would you mind spelling your name for me, sir?

GBP: [Sighs heavily.] Psschaughal. That's P as in ptarmigan, double S as in fissure, CH as in chthonic, AUGH as in daughter, A as in deaf, L as in salmon.

HSC: Naturally. PS as in corps, S as in bas-relief, CH as in chevron, AU as in taut, GH as in high, A as in meant, L as in folk.

GBP: No, no, no! Listen carefully: P as in pneumatic, S as in fresnel, SC as in prosciutto, H as in honest, A as in head, UGH as in fought, AL as in walk.

HSC: Oh, now I understand. [Continues to hunt fruitlessly.] You must forgive me, Mr Psschaughal; English spelling is very confusing to those of us for whom it is a foreign language....

GBP: [Pulling something out of the stack.] What's this?

HSC: That looks like it... Oh, dear. I'm afraid they've misspelled your name.

GBP: What? How could that happen?

HSC: It seems they've spelled it phonetically.

GBP: Phonetically?

HSC: Yes—exactly the way it sounds: Skjå.

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