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For example,

Night -> Nite

Nite even appears in some dictionaries as having the same meaning as night.

What is it called when words are deliberately written incorrectly but the pronunciation and meaning are kept unchanged?

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In this case it is written to more closely correspond to the pronunciation. So I rather view it as a simplified spelling than as deliberately wrong. –  starblue Oct 24 '11 at 12:47
I'd call it silly... SCNR –  Raku Oct 24 '11 at 12:51
Here's a quote ... E. B. Dewing ... Yu have more time than enny of us in the daytime, and at nite she'd be aslepe. –  GEdgar Oct 24 '11 at 13:50
Here's The English Spelling Society ... spellingsociety.org –  GEdgar Oct 24 '11 at 13:52
If 'nite' appears in your dictionary, please burn it immediately. –  sml Oct 26 '11 at 2:49

4 Answers 4

A general term for intentionally altered spelling is sensational spelling, in which the writer misspells words for an intended effect.

Another, more specific term is cacography, which is misspelling intended for comic effect. It was often seen used to mock illiterate/uneducated people.

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It can also be a form of an eye dialect:

The use of non-standard spelling for speech to draw attention to pronunciation... This form of non-standard spelling differs from others in that a difference in spelling does not indicate a difference in pronunciation of a word. That is, it looks like a rendering of dialect but does not sound like it.

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TV Tropes calls it Xtreme Kool Letterz.

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It is called 'phonetic' — it is spelt how it sounds (phonetics is the science of sound). Some of the common phonetic spellings come from the old world English such as GEdgar's contribution. In a lot of cases, I see bastardised versions of this phonetic spelling — which is OK if kept in context, but unprofessional if used indiscriminately.

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