Deeper Dive: said

Word Story Text
SAID spelled s-a-i-d
Perfect example of a traditional sight word:
Given how it is spelled, its pronunciation is WEIRD.

The AI should be pronounced “ai”, as in PAID.

Instead it’s “eh” like in BED which makes no sense.

So, SAID is treated as a sight word that has to be memorized.
Memorizing takes a lot of practice and is boring. We want to avoid that.

Notice that SAID makes more sense if you group it with its morphological relatives SAY, SAYS, and SAYING.
These are all forms of the verb SAY.
Their meanings aren’t identical but they overlap.
Same for their sounds.

Not only that, SAID and SAYS are irregular in the same way:
they both have the vowel “eh” instead of “ay”

So, the written word SAID doesn’t seem like such an oddball if it’s grouped with these related words.

Most children will know these words from speech. You can build on this in teaching them to read the words and remember how they are pronounced.

It may also help to recognize that SAID is part of another pattern.

S-A-I-D used to be pronounced “sayed”.
“sed” is much easier to articulate. Over a long period of time, English speakers transitioned from “sayed” to the simpler form “sed”.

That was good for speaking fluently.
But the spelling stayed the same. That left S-A-I-D pronounced “sed”.

The same thing happened to many other words. the pronunciation changed, often from a long vowel to a shorter one; but the spelling stayed the same.

The bottom line: words such as SAID aren’t as irregular as they might seem.
You just have to group them with their close relatives, the other forms of SAY. And recognize that what happened to SAID happened to a lot of other words.

Explore this Deeper Dive for more details and examples.
spoke, talked
Fred said "bed ahead!"
Unique Feature?
SAID is a phonological reduction of SAYED.
Said, imperfect or past participle of Say.

Said, adjective Before-mentioned; already spoken of or specified; aforesaid; – used chiefly in legal style.

-- Webster's unabridged 1913

morpheme phoneme statistics idioms