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How to Find the Correct Spelling of a Word Using Morrison’s Spelling‐Buddy System

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Correct spelling of many, many words in our English language is very difficult because our inclusive language is made up of words from the languages of nations all over the world, and each language has its own rules for spelling its words. Twenty-six years ago, Marvin L. Morrison devised an easy-to-learn system that enables its users to find any of a very large number of correctly-spelled words quickly and simply. If you can speak a word, his system will show you how it’s spelled.

His system has only two components. The first component is a book full of correctly-spelled words. Actually there are two such books.

WORD FINDER is the smaller book. It is a paperback, contains more than 50,000 words, weighs 15 ounces, and is small enough to be carried in a student’s bookbag.

SOUND-IT-OUT SPELLER (SPLR) is the larger book. It is hardbound and contains more than 150,000 words, including all of the words in WORD FINDER. Its three pound weight and its larger size make it less portable than WORD FINDER but it’s fine as a desk reference.

The second component, as written below, is his procedure for finding your word, correctly-spelled, in his book.

Pronounce your word (example word: corsage) very slowly, listening to its individual consonant sounds.

  • For each consonant sound, write its consonant sound symbol (Example's consonant sound symbols: KRSZH). The system uses only 27 consonant sound symbols. You already know 18 of them, and the other 9 are easy to learn. See the section below on sound symbols before you go to the next step.
  • The set of consonant sound symbols you have written is the address in the book under which your correctly-spelled word is located.

Look under the example's address KRSZH in the following sample page from WORD FINDER to see your correctly-spelled word. As you can see, addresses are arranged in alphabetical order, and the correctly-spelled word or words under each address are arranged in alphabetical order.


Sound Symbols

  • Written English words are made of the letters of our alphabet -- 21 consonants and 5 vowels.
  • Spoken English words are made of consonant sounds and vowel sounds.
  • The one vowel sound symbol that the system optionally uses is a dash, which symbolizes any and every vowel sound.
  • The 27 consonant sound symbols that the system uses are shown in the following table. When you speak the table's sample word that accompanies any consonant sound symbol you’ll hear the sound that the symbol represents.

Use the table to practice by speaking each of the table's sample words, listening for each word’s individual sounds and writing the consonant sound symbol or optionally the vowel sound symbol for each sound you hear. Pronouncing each sound symbol as the sound it represents will help you remember them.

Also practice by sounding out other words of your choice and building an address for each one. Finalize each word’s address by deleting all dashes (and spaces if you used them) between the consonant sound symbols you wrote. Then find each word in the book.


Why write the dashes if they’re going to be deleted later? While you’re learning to use the system, they’re useful in verifying that you have symbolized every sound in the spoken word. After you’ve completed a lot of successful addresses, you’ll stop writing the dashes.

Why does the system occasionally fail to find my word in the book? And if that happens, what should I do?

  • You may have made a mistake while you were building your word’s address. Think about or do other things for a little while, then build your word’s address again and try it again.
  • If you don’t find your word with the second or third address you build, it may not yet be listed in the book.
  • If you can think of a second word with a meaning like your word’s meaning, use the system to find or verify the second word’s correct spelling, then find the second word in a dictionary. Your original word, correctly spelled, may be among the second word’s synonyms.

Why not build addresses using the written consonants we’re familiar with instead of using the consonant sound symbols? As an example of the reason, consider the written consonant pair “gh”. In spoken words such as “rough” it has the F sound, and in others like “night” it is silent. Using the consonant sound symbols saves time and effort by eliminating concerns about such matters.


  • When you're looking in either of the books for your correctly-spelled word under its address, it’s important that you look at every word under that address. If your word is one of several words that sound alike (examples: carat, karat, caret, carrot) you’ll see a hint to the right of each of the words that sound the same. (examples with hints: carat (diamond), karat (gold), caret (symbol), carrot(vegetable)). Each word’s hint will help you choose the word with the meaning you want to express.
  • Don’t hurry. Concentrate on getting things right. Speed will come with practice.
  • Always be very careful to avoid letting written letters contaminate the address you’re creating. Each address must contain only consonant sound symbols.

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