Community Web Version Now Available
Sara
Every (why)has a(because) except mine I really get conffused when someone asks me Why many speccific letters aren't pronounced such as m in autumn or P in psychology
Jun 22, 2013 5:32 PM
7
0
Answers · 7
The funny thing about English spelling is that it doesn't rely on phonetics, but relies on word history and connections between words. The pronunciation comes from what is easiest for the average speaker. If someone asks why there's a silent letter... then there's usually a story to tell! :)
June 22, 2013
Yeah and what Peachey describes, is not intentional or properly organized. There was no council or forum where it was decided that words would be written based on word history and not phonetics. It mostly comes from a general non-standardisation of the language's spelling "colour, color" "favourite, favorite", and a direct copying of other language's words ALONG WITH that language's original pronounciation. Croissant, Ski, fjord. All kinds of nonsense like that. Then you get into the different regional accents. My grandmother says Black and Block the same (she grew up around Detroit). People from Texas say Pen and Pin, and they sound like the same word. On and on. The correct answer is that English spelling, was never standardized, and it is not based on phonetics, or spelt with a phonetic alphabet which would be the easiest way to produce an spelling for a language (I.e Spanish). George Bernard Shaw used to get really upset that the word the gh in ghoul, was not pronounced like the gh in laugh. Even native speakers can mess this up, there is no way to perfect this one. It's one of the main uses of an English dictionary by English speakers! (oh how do you spell that?, is said as often as "what does that word mean?" when people reach for a dictionary.
June 22, 2013
As a follow on to "Peachey". Take the word "knight". There was a time with the "k" and the "gh" were pronounced. Pronunciation evolved over time while spelling typically remained unchanged. The shapes of letters have also changed over time. Look at the words "Majesties" and "most" in this document. http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/37982/use-of-f-instead-of-s-in-historic-printed-english-documents
June 22, 2013
Sara
Language Skills
Arabic, English
Learning Language