3E: Compound Clusters

Beyond The Phoneme

Previous lessons have identified keyboard chords that Plover assigns to particular phonemes. Using those chords, you can sound out all English words, even if it takes more than one stroke to do so.

Inevitably, some English words simply resist steno order because of the way they group sounds; for example, the 'mp' sound in 'bump', or the 'rv' sound in 'swerve'. To provide single stroke dictionary entries for many of these words, Plover defines a set of chords specifically to deal with those groupings.

Common Compound Clusters

These are the most common compound clusters defined in Plover:

  • *PL: the 'mp' cluster, as in 'bump', 'camp' and 'limp'
  • -FRB: the 'rv' cluster, as in 'carve', 'swerve', and 'nerve'
  • -LG: this could be used for either of two clusters:
    • 'lch', as in 'mulch', 'gulch', and 'squelch'
    • 'lj', as in 'divulge', 'bulge', and 'bilge'
  • *LG: the 'lk' cluster, as in 'elk', 'ilk', 'hulk', and 'milk'
  • *PBG: the 'nk' cluster, as in 'mink', 'honk', and 'prank'
  • -GS: the 'shun' cluster, as in 'lesion', 'ocean', 'ration', and 'cushion'
  • -BGS: the 'kshun' cluster, as in 'direction', 'selection', and 'seduction'
  • -FRPB: this could be used for either of two clusters:
    • 'rch', as in 'march', 'lurch', 'perch', and 'search'
    • 'nch', as in 'finch', 'clench', 'branch', and 'hunch'

Exercise: Common Compound Clusters

For this exercise, first try to figure out how you might stroke each word without using the chords defined in this lesson. Then stroke the words using the chords defined here. It should become clear why these chords are so useful.
  • 'hemp' 'trump' 'rump' 'romp' 'ramp' 'pump' 'camp' 'cramp' 'tamp' 'pomp'
  • 'curve' 'carve' 'serve' 'swerve' 'starve
  • 'squelch'
  • 'hulk' 'calc' 'sulk' 'talc'
  • 'rank' 'honk' 'wonk' 'prank' 'crank' 'tank'
  • 'session' 'option' 'ration' 'portion' 'passion' 'cushion' 'caption' 'suppression'
  • 'section' 'correction' 'suction'
  • 'arch' 'ranch' 'hunch' 'porch' 'crunch' 'quench' 'torch' 'trench' 'stench' 'starch


You may have had trouble with 'suppression' and 'correction' if you didn't remember to drop the unstressed vowels.

Did you try to figure out how to stroke each word without its special chord? Did you notice that each chord solved a particular problem that otherwise had no obvious solution?

Exercise: Including Sounds From Previous Lessons

  • 'limp' 'blimp' 'chomp' 'clamp' 'damp' 'slump' 'shrimp' 'jump'
  • 'nerve' 'verve' 'marvel'
  • 'village' 'mulch' 'bulge' 'belch' 'bilge' 'gulch' 'pillage'
  • 'ilk' 'milk' 'bulk' 'silk' 'bilk'
  • 'wink' 'mink' 'plank' 'brink' 'blink' 'blank' 'flank' 'flunk' 'dank' 'drink' 'gunk' 'junk' 'link' 'chunk'
  • 'lesion' 'provision' 'fusion' 'lotion' 'operation' 'mission' 'motion' 'pollution'
  • 'election' 'auction' 'correction' 'collection' 'fraction' 'friction' 'depiction' 'selection' 'seduction'
  • 'finch' 'clench' 'branch' 'march' 'lurch' 'lynch' 'birch' 'brunch' 'church' 'drench'


Did you notice that 'village' and 'pillage' each had to drop an unstressed vowel in order to bring the 'l' and 'j' together to form the 'lj' sound? And did you notice the inversion rule used in 'provision'?

Exercise Solutions

Solution: Common Compound Clusters

  • 'hemp': H*EPL (otherwise HEPL/-P)
  • 'trump': TR*UPL (otherwise TRUPL/-P)
  • 'rump': R*UPL (otherwise RUPL/-P)
  • 'romp': RO*PL (otherwise ROPL/-P)
  • 'ramp': RA*PL (otherwise RAPL/-P)
  • 'pump': P*UPL (otherwise PUPL/-P)
  • 'camp': KA*PL (otherwise KAPL/-P)
  • 'cramp': KRA*PL (otherwise KRAPL/-P)
  • 'tamp': TA*PL (otherwise TAPL/-P)
  • 'pomp': PO*PL (otherwise POPL/-P)
  • 'curve': KUFRB (otherwise KUR/-F)
  • 'carve': KAFRB (otherwise KAR/-F)
  • 'serve': SEFRB (otherwise SER/-F)
  • 'swerve': SWEFRB (otherwise SWER/-F)
  • 'starve': STAFRB (otherwise STAR/-F)
'lch', 'lj'
  • 'squelch': SKWELG
  • 'hulk': H*ULG (otherwise HUL/-BG)
  • 'calc': KA*LG
  • 'sulk': S*ULG (otherwise SUL/-BG)
  • 'talc': TA*LG (otherwise TAL/-BG)
  • 'rank': RA*PBG (otherwise RAPB/-BG)
  • 'honk': HO*PBG (otherwise HOPB/-BG)
  • 'wonk': WO*PBG
  • 'prank': PRA*PBG (otherwise PRAPB/-BG)
  • 'crank': KRA*PBG (otherwise KRAPB/-BG)
  • 'tank': TA*PBG (otherwise TAPB/-BG)
  • 'session': SEGS (otherwise SERB/OPB)
  • 'option': OPGS
  • 'ration': RAGS
  • 'portion': PORGS
  • 'passion': PAGS
  • 'cushion': KUGS
  • 'caption': KAPGS
  • 'suppression': SPREGS
  • 'section': SEBGS
  • 'correction': KREBGS
  • 'suction': SUBGS (otherwise SUBG/SHUPB)
'rch', 'nch'
  • 'arch': AFRPB
  • 'ranch': RAFRPB
  • 'hunch': HUFRPB
  • 'porch': POFRPB
  • 'crunch': KRUFRPB
  • 'quench': KWEFRPB
  • 'torch': TOFRPB
  • 'trench': TREFRPB
  • 'stench': STEFRPB
  • 'starch': STAFRPB

Solution: Including Sounds From Previous Lessons

  • 'limp': HR*EUPL (otherwise HREUPL/-P)
  • 'blimp': PWHR*EUPL (otherwise PWHREUPL/-P)
  • 'chomp': KHO*PL
  • 'clamp': KHRA*PL (otherwise KHRAPL/-P)
  • 'damp': TKA*PL (otherwise TKAPL/-P)
  • 'slump': SHR*UPL (otherwise SHRUPL/-P)
  • 'shrimp': SHR*EUPL (otherwise SHREUPL/-P)
  • 'jump': SKWR*UPL (otherwise SKRWUPL/-P)
  • 'nerve': TPHEFRB (otherwise TPHER/*F)
  • 'verve': SREFRB
  • 'marvel': PHAFRBL (otherwise PHAR/SREL)
'lch', 'lj'
  • 'village': SREULG (otherwise SREUL/APBLG)
  • 'mulch': PHULG
  • 'bulge': PWULG (otherwise PWUL/-PBLG)
  • 'belch': PWELG
  • 'bilge': PWEULG (otherwise PWEUL/-PBLG)
  • 'gulch': TKPWULG
  • 'pillage': PEULG (otherwise PEUL/APBLG)
  • 'ilk': *EULG (otherwise EUL/-BG)
  • 'milk': PH*EULG (otherwise PHEUL/-BG)
  • 'bulk': PW*ULG (otherwise PWUL/-BG)
  • 'silk': S*EULG (otherwise SEUL/-BG)
  • 'bilk': PW*EULG (otherwise PWEUL/-BG)
  • 'wink': W*EUPBG
  • 'mink': PH*EUPBG
  • 'plank': PHRA*PBG
  • 'brink': PWR*EUPBG
  • 'blink': PWHR*EUPBG
  • 'blank': PWHRA*PBG
  • 'flank': TPHRA*PBG
  • 'flunk': TPHR*UPBG
  • 'dank': TKA*PBG
  • 'drink': TKR*EUPBG
  • 'gunk': TKPW*UPBG
  • 'junk': SKWR*UPBG
  • 'link': HR*EUPBG
  • 'chunk': KH*UPBG
  • 'lesion': HRAOEGS (otherwise HRAOR/SHUPB)
  • 'provision': PREUFGS
  • 'fusion': TPAOUGS
  • 'lotion': HROEGS
  • 'operation': PRAEUGS
  • 'mission': PHEUGS
  • 'motion': PHOEGS
  • 'pollution': PHRAOUGS
  • 'election': HREBGS
  • 'auction': AUBGS
  • 'correction': KREBGS
  • 'collection': KHREBGS
  • 'fraction': TPRABGS
  • 'friction': TPREUBGS
  • 'depiction': TKPEUBGS
  • 'selection': SHREBGS
  • 'seduction': STKUBGS
'rch', 'nch'
  • 'finch': TPEUFRPB
  • 'clench': KHREFRPB
  • 'branch': PWRAFRPB
  • 'march': PHAFRPB
  • 'lurch': HRUFRPB
  • 'lynch': HREUFRPB
  • 'birch': PWEUFRPB
  • 'brunch': PWRUFRPB
  • 'church': KHUFRPB
  • 'drench': TKREFRPB