It seems common practice in informal written English (and possibly other languages) to represent emphasised, slow or drawn-out speech by repeating vowels in words:

I was sooooo drunk

How could a writer avoid ambiguity between a vowel sound that is extended in this way and another word that differs only because it already contains a repeated vowel?

For example, the word god, when extended by repeating the O, could easily be confused with the word good.

Is there a better way of representing long vowel sounds than repeating letters?

  • 1
    Writers can never avoid ambiguity. Every written sentence is multiply ambiguous because humans can figure out the context and don't notice the wrong meanings (with good writing). We would be able to resolve some of it with phonological representation, but the orthography does not have the tools to represent sound distinctions like the ones you're asking about. English already has 14 vowel phonemes that have to be represented by combinations of 5 vowel letters plus exotic letters like H, W, or Y. Making up your own is between you and your audience. There's no rules. Good luck. Jun 19, 2019 at 14:58

2 Answers 2


As you're talking about informal speech/writing, you could use alternative informal spellings as well. In this case, you could use gawd.

God (used for emphasis or to express surprise, anger, etc.)
‘Oh Gawd! I'd completely forgotten about it’

So you could say, "Oh gaaaawd!"


Extending letters can be very dangerous territory (as with most "phonetic" or "slang" spelling) for non-natives or even for natives that are not of similar enough dialect.

For the specific situation you describe, to make sure that "god" is understood correctly I usually add multiple "o"'s and just as many if not more "d"'s:

Oh gooodddddddd

compare with

Oh gooooodd

Both could be misinterpreted as "good" but the second spelling is much more likely to read as "good" than "god."

I am not sure how to make this answer more generalizable, besides the pointing out that consonants can also be duplicated to imitate a drawn out sound

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