Letters Spelled Without Themselves

Letter Spelling
A eh
C see
E yi1
F eph
G jee
I eye (also “uy” or “aye”)
J zhay
K cay
O eau2
Q cue
S ehce
U yew
W dubya3
X ecks
Y wei or wie4
Z xee (See appen­dix.)

Let me know if I missed anything.

Appendix: A guide to pronouncing English words starting with X

As we all know, there are no words in the English language start­ing with X. So when encoun­ter­ing such a danger­ous beast (known to the select cadre of sport­ing profes­sion­als who seek them for thrills as “X-words”), it is vital to toss the pronun­ci­a­tion rules out the window. It becomes time to free flow it.

Here is a non-exhaus­tive guide to some of the better researched words start­ing with X, for those acolytes of English who need a few steady footholds on their jour­ney towards becom­ing the masters of X.

Xenon: JOY-nahn
Xena: THEE-nah
XOR: ECKS-clue-sieve ORE
Ximenez: <GARGLING SOUND>EH-men-neth
Xeno­phobe: “so but like really, where liter­ally are you actu­ally from, orig­i­nally?”
Xo: any of, or vari­ants on

  • ho
  • joe
  • so
  • show
  • shall
  • zao
  • extra old
  • jao
  • drao
  • zhao5
  • “how do you say your name?”
  • eckso
  • ecks-oh
  • КСO6—sounds like “k-so”
  • hug and kiss7

Remem­ber, these are simply guide­lines, not hard-and-fast rules; fluent speak­ers know to inter­pret them as they please based on gut feel­ings, pulling addi­tional phonemes from their bottoms as needed to battle some of the more monstrous among this list. This is a crucial skill drilled over and over again with words from lists like this one until the English prac­ti­tioner is comfort­able conquer­ing even X-words never yet seen in the Anglos­phere.

  1. Arguable since normally you’d say “e” from a closed glot­tis but “yi” from an open glot­tis. []
  2. The whole point of this exer­cise is to abuse the language, so give me a break. []
  3. Fine; “dubyu.” []
  4. On the hope that you pronounce “ei” or “ie” as aɪ (aye); if your “ei” is eɪ and your “ie” is iː then you’ll end up saying “way” and “whee.” Y is simply a much more reli­able vowel for this sound than any of AEIOU, and so it accepts no substi­tutes. Also if you’ve seen pinyin or speak German then “wei” or “wie” just look wrong here. []
  5. Really stress that ʒ; I don’t even know where we got that “zh” sounds like it’s in “beige seizure equa­tion”; I don’t know any Roman­iza­tion that uses that. []
  6. Yes, that’s Cyril­lic. []
  7. Because XOXO would be plural. []