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Re: English: no rule for making "ing" verbs?




Wolf K wrote:
If you want to know why English spelling is such a mess, the short answer is that England adopted printing, and hence standardised spelling, before the transition from Late Middle English to Early Modern English was complete. Thus many spellings record English both as spoken ca 1450-1550 and from ca 1550 on: wind/wind, bow/bow, etc. Or gait/gate, neither of which was pronounced as they are now.

Spelling didn't become standardised until ca 1700, but some sounds shifted some more: tea once rimed with Tay. Also, around that time, some spellings were deliberately changed to reflect the etymology of the word: Debt was earlier spelled dette, for example.

Plus,

- Pronunciation has shifted, and spelling has not. Thus even before standardization of spelling words that were spelled phonetically then may still reflect the old pronunciations. I've seen analyses that indicate that by reading poetry produced in Early Modern English, and paying attention to the spellings, it's possible to get a reasonable idea of what English of that era actually sounded like (e.g., Shakespeare, King James Bible, etc.)

- English is something of a creole language, where there's a lot taken from other languages -- not just the Germanic roots of Old English or the French from the Norman Conquest, but it has borrowed from virtually any other language that English-speaking people have come in contact with. English pragmatism is such that if we find a word in another language that fits, we're happy to use it. And other languages may have entirely different spelling/pronunciation rules than English does. And that doesn't even account for anglicized pronunciation that differs from 'proper' pronunciation in the source language.

Smith
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