Education: Gungs & Boms

In a lengthy letter to the London Times, George Bernard Shaw told the world what was wrong with the atom bomb. It was misspelled.

G.B.S. was harping on a favorite string. He had promised to will $80,000 to anyone with a plan to make English "economic." But lately he had been appalled anew at the discovery that he could write "bomb" only 18 times a minute and "bom" 23 times. Stormed Shaw: "The extra sign is entirely senseless, it not only wastes the writer's time, but suggests an absurd mispronunciation, as if the word 'gun' were to be spelt 'gung.' "

"Phoneticians have...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!