Any list of the 1,000 most common English words is arbitrary to some degree. This one was compiled mostly from words in a special dictionary by Robert Shaw,The New Horizon Ladder Dictionary, New York: Popular Library, Inc., 1969, for the United States Information Agency. The bias favors words in print rather than frequency of spoken English words. Nevertheless, the vast majority of entries should prove helpful.
Does it aid our ultimate fluency with Cued Speech to be able to cue common vocabulary words automatically? Undoubtedly it does to some extent. The author discovered when cue-checking the various lists that there seemed to be a cululative effect: he could cue final words in a list much more efficiently than beginning words. He also found the cueing of alphabetical lists a boring and tedious exercise! Of course, people differ in their tolerance for such rote activities.
Each of the eight word lists contains cueing practice emphasizing a particular handshape. All the words in the first list contain at least one of the phonemes /d/, /p/, /zh/, requiring handshape 1. The same principle functions for lists 2 through 8. Words are repeated across lists where additional handshapes are candidates for practice. The word "advance" [5-t,1-s,2-t,4-s,3-s], for example, appears in each of the first five lists because it contains all of those handshapes. The word "do" [1-c] only appears in the first list, "the" [2-m] only in the second list, "see" only in the third, etc. For individuals who may need lots of practice to establish a particular handshape, these lists provide an excellent supply of common words to cue
Some caution is advised concerning a few of the listings in certain handshape categories. The word "attempt" appears in list 1. If one cues it /utemt/ [5-s/d,5-c,5-s,5-s], then there is obviously no practice for handshape 1. Strike it off your list! The author prefers to cue /utempt/ because -- for him -- it is easier and quicker to insert the excrescent /p/ [1-s] phoneme between /m/ [5-s] and [t] [5-s] than it is to bounce the 5 handshape a second time. Try it both ways before make your personal choice.
If you pronounce many of the /wh/ words such as "what," "wheat," "wheel," etc. as /wuht/, /weet/, /weel/, then these words -- for you -- belong in list 6, not in list 4. Under no circumstances should you allow these lists to become prescriptive of the way you ordinarily talk. When in doubt, check the variations in pronunciation of these words which appear in the "Cued Speech Guide to American Pronunciations of Common Words" at the end of this manual.