What caught my attention was that "weird" is another one of those words that violates the only grammar rule most people know. We've all heard and memorized that "i comes before e except after c". Weird.
I believe that spell checkers have made us all dumber since we're able to outsource our thinking without really thinking about it. I've often found myself just hammering away at keys and letting the computer just generally figure out what I was trying to say. The computer is accurate and able to do do this, so we've formed sort of a symbiosis in this manner. But as a consequence I've found myself embarrassingly uncertain of my self when hand writing letters or notes with pen and paper. So I've tried to slow down and eschew spell checking systems before I become any more incompetent. Now I'm trying to pay attention to the spelling of words.
So how many words violate this rule?
Here's the wikipedia page:
If we scroll down to the Exceptions section we see four violations of the "cie" part of the rule listed. They are all words I'd never use, so that's not helpful and doesn't seem comprehensive. There's no real numbers anywhere in this article to look at. Maybe we can do better.
My next stop was here:
It was just the first page I found that had a list of english words. There are about 100,000 of them in a nice text file.
Grab the file
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ wget http://www-01.sil.org/linguistics/wordlists/english/wordlist/wordsEn.txt
And count some stuff
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep ie wordsEn.txt | wc -l
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep ei wordsEn.txt | wc -l
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep cei wordsEn.txt | wc -l
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep cie wordsEn.txt | wc -l
Hang on a minute... "i before e, except after c". That's strange that there's more occurrences of "cie" (322) than there are of "cei" (88).
A quick look tells us why:
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep cie wordsEn.txt | head
It looks like there are a lot of occurrences of a popular suffix "ies". A quick trip to the wikipedia page about suffixes.
So....... despite being used 6 times on the wikipedia page "ies" isn't listed as a suffix. That's frustrating.
More searching and there's a page about it on wiktionary:
Let's filter those out.
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep cie wordsEn.txt | grep -v cies | wc -l