Notice anything bizarre about the title of this post? Take a good look at it. I’ll wait.
Do you see it?
Every word in the sentence breaks the “I” before “E” except after “C” rule that we all learned in school. Yet, every word is correctly spelled.
My mother taught me that there is more to the mnemonic poem than what I was taught in school. Her version:
“I” before “E” except after “C”
Or when sounded like “A”, as in “neighbor” and “weigh”
Except “seize” and “seizure”, and also “leisure”,
“Weird”, “height” and “neither”, “forfeit” and “either”.
Mom’s version doesn’t even cover the two examples of “I” before “E” even if it IS after “C” that are in the title of this post. Of course, there’s always “oneiromancies“, which breaks the rule twice, once in each direction.
In a comment over at Pharyngula, Oolon Colluphid posted this:
“I” Before “E” Except After “C”
by Duncan McKenzie
It’s a rule that is simple, concise and efficeint.
For all speceis of spelling it’s more than sufficeint.
Against words wild and wierd, it’s one law that shines bright
Blazing out like a beacon upon a great hieght,
It gives guidance impartial, sceintific and fair
In this language, this tongue to which we are all hier.
‘Gainst the glaceirs of ignorance that icily frown,
This great precept gives warmth, like a thick iederdown.
Now, a few in soceity choose to deride,
To cast DOUBT on this anceint and venerable guide;
They unwittingly follow a foriegn agenda,
A plot hatched, I am sure, in some vile haceinda.
In our work and our liesure, our homes and our schools,
Let us follow our consceince, sieze proudly our rules!
Will I dilute my standards, make them vaguer and blither?
I say NO, I will not! I trust you will not iether.
This is part of what makes English so difficult to foreigners: the only rule is that there are no rules — only exceptions.