The DRE Dictionâry

(written in reduced DRE)

The Tentativ Amèrican Reference for DRE, shòrtened tu TARDRE, iz a 30,000 wôrd "dictionâry" for DRE.  It iz ov còurse not a dictionâry in the traditional sense, fûll ov definitions and etymolojies.  It iz rather a list ov fairly common Ênglish wôrds, paired with their reprezentations in DRE.

While DRE iz a rùle-based system, for mâny wôrds it iz not possible tu lojically deduce how they woûd be respelled in DRE.  Wunn reazon iz that different peaple hav different pronuncìations.  If you pronounce <turquoise> with a /kw/ sound, you woûd wont to spell it differently from the way you'd spell it if you pronounced it with ónly a /k/.  Anôther difficulty is that a wôrd míet be áble tu be respelled in several different lejitimat ways.  For instance, <disapprove> míet be respelled az disaproóve or az disaprùve.

Wunn way that a spelling refòrm like DRE míet deal with theze ambigúities iz tu embrace them, and tu say that you shoûd spell az you speak, and that âny spelling that comúnicates an acceptable pronuncìation iz permitted.  The problem iz that this just izn't how réal-wôrld spelling operates.  The process of lerning and teaching spelling caulls for standard spellings; I dón't think my teachers éven accepted the concept ov vârìant spellings until I woz in hý scoól.  The réalities ov publishing ar anôther factor.  No publisher woûd wont tu hav tu publish books in a Western spelling edition, an Eastern spelling edition and a Sôthern spelling edition - they wont wunn edition for the entire US.  And, for that matter, when we read a Stéven King novel, we ar not especially intrested in hiz pronuncìation - we wont tu read it in a standard reprezentation, without having tu deal with ocázional odd spellings reprezenting hiz Néw Êngland accent.

(I'd better note, for the recôrd, that I am not so foólish az tu believe that Stéven King will somday be publishing novels spelled in DRE.  DRE iz a personal amuzement, and five peaple intrested enuff tu master it woûd count az a prêtty amazing success.  At the same time, I am trýing tu make DRE somthing that coûd actjùally be uzed, never mínd that the réal-wôrld chances ar less than thoze ov my suffering a direct hit from a killer asteroid.  A spelling system without an athòrity iz an absurdity, so I am providing TARDRE az that athòrity.  In the fantasy wôrld whâre DRE becôms coól and sweeps the nátion, wunn or more dictionâry publishers woûd wont tu sell DRE references, and TARDRE woûd becôm a històrical cúrìosity, sùperseded by the wôrk ov thoze professionals hoo knów how tu turn wôrd lists intu mônéy.)

Mý conclùzion iz, thârefore, that if DRE iz tu hav âny pretensions at aul tu béing ov âny use, thâre haz tu be a spelling reference that decrees particülar pronuncìations (tomátó, not tomàtó) and specific spellings (disaprùve, not disaproóve).  The spellings dón't reprezent my speech (more on this later), and they wón't reprezent yours exactly éyther.  But I hope they wón't be aul that fàr from your pronuncìation (at least, if you'r an Amèrican), and that the differences wón't be so sêrìous az tu giv you májor problems.

The list of wôrds in TARDRE woz taken from the 12dicts packaj, which iz a public dómain packaj containing several lists of common Ênglish wôrds.  See this site for more information on 12dicts.

The pronuncìations reprezented by the spellings in TARDRE ar based on whot I caull CLAEP, Consensus Lexicographical Amèrican Ênglish Pronuncìation.  Whot this rather pretentious acronym means iz the follówing:  Az I compiled the dictionâry, whenever I had a wôrd hoos pronuncìation I woz éven the tínìest bit unsjùre ov, I got the prímâry pronuncìation from each ov the Merrìam-Webster and Amèrican Hèritaj dictionâries az well az the Lòngman pronuncìation dictionâry, and let the majòrity rùle.  DRE iz aulso afected somtimes by British pronuncìation (az in the réspelling ov <watch> az wotch) - I uzed Lòngman az a reference hêre.  The net rezult iz that the pronuncìations reflected in TARDRE dón't agree exactly with âny ov theze sòurces, but thâre iz som level ov athòrity behínd them.  I'v discôvered, az I wôrked on TARDRE, that thâre ar substantial differences between the CLAEP pronuncìations and som ov my ówn, which iz good since I dón't feel that a dictionâry reflecting just my ówn speech iz much use.

Wunn ov the benefits ov a dictionâry such az TARDRE iz that it mákes it possible tu write a computer prógram which will translate a text in traditional spelling intu DRE.  Such prógrams hav a mixed repütation in the spelling-refòrm wôrld, in particülar becòz relýing on a prógram interfêres with the lerning process, and fínding how difficult the lerning process iz iz an impòrtant pàrt ov evalúating a sêrìous refòrm propózal.  Despite my agreement with this consideration, I am wôrking on such a prógram.  If âny reader ov this paje fínds the possibility of such a prógram exciting, send me an e-mail (Alan at, and I'll consider making it available.

A copy ov TARDRE can be downloaded hêre.  Feel free tu contact me about spellings or pronuncìations you fínd dúbìous.  While I hav spent no little time proófreading TARDRE, thâre ar likely still a féw errors, and I'd certâinly aprécïate béing infòrmed ov them.

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