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August 29, 2011
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Many of the strange English spellings come about for the purpose of reading. Here's a few - 'd' in fudge is there to protect short 'u' from becoming a long 'u' with 'e' following the consonant 'g'. It says its name, a 'j' sound, mostly when followed by e, i, or y. Words such as balm, calm have the 'l' for the purpose of making the vowel 'a' make one of its long sounds. So yes, 'l' is silent in the spoken word but without it, following the spelling rules, the 'a' would become a short vowel when followed by a consonant and we would mispronounce the word. The 'y' in words such as stray also gives a long 'a' sound, thanks to 'y' that can also replace 'i' or 'e'. Right again with the 'u' being silent in vogue. This is also spelt with a letter protecting the previous vowel and also 'g'. Without u the word would read voge but not pronounced the way we do. That bossy 'e' would be telling 'g' to say its name, giving us the sound of voje. Many English words have retained their old spelling but over the years, the pronunciation has modified. I guess we could use halfpenny for the silent 'f'' as it was pronounced as hayp-nee. Lime needs its 'e' to make the vowel long, so 'e' is there for spelling so we can identify it. Give and Have are words that are suspected of once being pronounced as they are spelt, but as Old and Middle English words don't end in 'v', words that do, are mostly foreign words. As with foreign words, we have now accepted their spelling but pronounce them with our own particular accents. Yep, I love the English language!
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