Maybbe I’m splittting hhairrsss?

Phonetic is a strange word in our language, because it’s not phonetic. If it were phonetic, it would be spelled something like FONETIK.

Sometimes, we switch from literal English to phonetic English. Like when we want to replicate our spoken speech, which tends to be lazier than our written language. Example:

People of a certain age (my age) will immediately recognize the lyrics to the song “Dancin’ in the Moonlight,” by the brilliant Sherman Kelly: “Everybody’s dancin’ in the moonlight / Everybody here is out of sight”

But if you ask the Shazam app to show you the lyrics, it gives you this: “Everybody here is outta sight”

No worries. It communicates. We know what’s meant. But “out of” should not be translated phonetically as “outta.” The correct phoneticization of “out of” is “outa.”

Why? Because the double T is unnecessary. When translating from proper English to phonetic English, it’s appropriate to change only the letters that aren’t phonetic. So “out of” should morph to “out a,” and then mush together as “outa.”

It would only be right to turn “out of” into “outta” if you were starting with “out tof.” Which we aren’t. So there.

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