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i before e rule

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1312530.  Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:22 am Reply with quote

Secundus was watching an ancient episide (dredged from the depths of her PVR) in which the assertion was made that there are more exceptions than compliances to the "i before e except after c when the sound is eee" rule.

She asked whether there an easily accessible source for this?


1312532.  Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:03 am Reply with quote

post 768569

1312533.  Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:17 am Reply with quote

Thanks Guy.


1312535.  Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:59 am Reply with quote

Yes, it was our very own suze! There's a good breakdown of the various types of "exception" in this Wikipedia article (which actually references this forum):

I think suze was counting all words with "cie" in the spelling, not just those with the sound of "ee". Certainly if you do it that way "cie" is far more common than "cei", but the rule isn't really meant to cover such words. "Species" seems to be the only common word that breaks the rule in that respect, if you discount inflected forms like "fancies" or "fancied".

Otherwise, when the sound is "ee", I'm pretty sure that "ie" is much more common than "ei" (other than in proper names and Scottish words). The only systematic exception is chemical names in "-ein(e)" such as "protein" or "caffeine", although there are a few well-known individual exceptions like "seize", "weir" and "weird". (I'm not counting words like "either" and "heinous" which can be pronounced in more than one way.)

1312537.  Mon Feb 04, 2019 11:22 am Reply with quote

'Secunda', surely?

1312547.  Mon Feb 04, 2019 11:55 am Reply with quote

tetsabb wrote:
'Secunda', surely?

Shame on you for that casual sexism...



1312553.  Mon Feb 04, 2019 12:40 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
I think suze was counting all words with "cie" in the spelling

Indeed I was, although I had no idea that that little piece of research had made its way onto Wikipedia!

When I am dead, I hope that it will be considered as my second greatest contribution to human knowledge. Being the first person ever to discover a single digit Erdös-Bacon-Sabbath number (the one belonging to the late Stephen Hawking) must surely come ahead of it!


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