TrueSpell.com is a program that converts written English to “typical” American pronuncations (whatever “typical” might mean). This might sound like a rather obvious exercise, but as any kindergardner will tell you, English spelling is ridiculous. Despite all of the (useful) rules kids used to learn about phonics (before whole-word reading became the latest fad in education circles), English spelling is not truly phonetic. We need only look at words like “guage” and “prerogative” to prove the kindergardners right, but if you’d like a more scientific analysis, you can also check out TrueSpell’s spread sheet of typical spellings for English phonemes.
Such issues are important for people who work in a variety of occupational backgrounds. Those who teach reading skills and those who work in computer programing and artificial intelligence come immediately to mind. Understanding these complications helps us to understand why it took so long to create a computer like the now-famous Watson, whose designers had to incorporate speech recognition software so that “he” could learn from the other contestant’s wrong answers in each category.