Seized by buzz about i and e 1

August 28, 2008

Bernard Lamb of Imperial College London says that I do not know the full version of the spelling rule i before e except after c if the vowel sound rhymes with bee (Letters, 21 August).

But I notice that in listing those words that I say break the i before e rule - "leisure", "neighbour" and "foreign" are the three examples he gives - he does not mention the word "seize", which I included in my original list and in which the vowel sound does rhyme with 'bee'.

So now students - even those clever students from Singapore - will have to learn the following rule: "i before e", then the exception to the rule, "except after c", then the qualification to the exception, "if the vowel sound rhymes with bee", and then the exception to the qualification, "except in the case of the word "seize", and all this rather than simply accept "sieze" as a variant spelling of the word "seize".

Would it really kill anyone - cause them to have a seizure in fact - if the spelling of the word "seize" changed over time to "sieze"? Apparently it would.

Ken Smith, Bucks New University

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