Could /fish/ be spelled « ghoti » or « -fici »?

George Bernard Shaw claimed, tongue in cheek, that the word fish could be spelled « ghoti. »

gh = /f/ as in enough. o = /i/ as in women. ti= /sh/ as in nation.

True, these sounds can be spelled in these ways, but never in this way.

In English, there is not one single word in which the letters gh are used to start a word having the /f/ sound. Nor is there a single word ending with the /sh/ sound spelled ti. However, the sound « fish » is always spelled « fici » in words whose base has more than one syllable.

As a matter of fact the sound /fish/ is spelled fish only in words that can be reduced to a base (morpheme) of one meaningful syllable. The words fish, fishes, fished, fishing, fisherman, fishermen, fishery, and fisheries can all be reduced to « fish. » The sound /fish/ happens to always be spelled fici in words that have a base of more than one syllable. For the phonic patterns rarely taught in schools see The Fancy Words.

We say « uh fish ul » but we spell official.

We say « ben uh fish ul » but we spell beneficial.

We say « ee fish unt » but we spell efficient.

We say « suh fish unt » but we spell sufficient.

In « A fisherman is fishing » the base is

fish which has only one syllable.