A pronunciation respelling is a regular phonetic respelling of a word that does have a standard spelling, so as to indicate the pronunciation. Pronunciation respellings are sometimes seen in dictionaries.
This should not be confused with pronunciation spelling, which is an ad hoc spelling of a word that has no standard spelling. Most of these are nonce coinages, but some have become standardized, e.g. gonna to represent the pronunciation of going to, as in I'm gonna catch you.
Pronunciation spellings may be used informally to indicate the pronunciation of foreign words or those whose spelling is irregular or not sufficient to deduce the pronunciation. This is called respelling. In such cases, typeface, punctuation or letter case may also be used, e.g. to indicate stress or syllabication:
- "Diarrhoea" is pronounced DYE-uh-REE-a
This offers a sometimes intuitive alternative to systems like the International Phonetic Alphabet, which offer precise descriptions but need to be learned. However, it relies on the writer's encoding mapping to the same phonemes as the reader's; e.g.
- Föhn is pronounced "Fern"
might be adequate for certain non-rhotic readers but not rhotic ones.
Pronunciation spellings are frequently used in narratives to represent nonstandard dialects or idiolects, often to create an impression of backwardness or illiteracy. That is called literary dialect, often called eye dialect, but the latter term used to be applied only if the resulting pronunciation is the same as the standard one:
- "Pleez, mistur," said the beggar.
Pronunciation spellings as deliberate misspellings may be used for humorous effect. The origin of the word okay is disputed, but the most common view is that it derives from "Oll Korrect", an 1830s comical spelling of "All Correct".
- Bowdre, Paul H., Jr. (1971). Eye dialect as a literary device. In J. V. Williamson & V. M. Burke (Eds.), A various language (pp. 178–179). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
- Fine, Elizabeth. (1983). In defense of literary dialect: A response to Dennis R. Preston. The Journal of American Folklore, 96 (381), 323-330.
- Ives, Sumner. (1950). A theory of literary dialect. Tulane Studies in English, 2, 137-182.
- Ives, Sumner. (1971). A theory of literary dialect. In J. V. Williamson & V. M. Burke (Eds.), A various language (pp. 145–177). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
- Krapp, George P. (1926). The psychology of dialect writing. The Bookman, 6, 522-527.
- Preston, Dennis R. (1982). Ritin' fowklower daun 'rong: Folklorists' failures in phonology. The Journal of American Folklore, 95 (377), 304-326.
- Preston, Dennis R. (1983). Mowr bayud spellin': A reply to Fine. The Journal of American Folklore, 96 (381), 330-339.
- Preston, Dennis R. (1985). The Li'l Abner syndrome: Written representations of speech. American Speech, 60 (4), 328-336.