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  1. ania12345

    Question language history

    Why in English lg or USE we read differently than we write???????? Anyone can help me? Please

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: language history

    Do you mean, why do speakers speak differently than they way they write? If so, the simple answer is, Time. Speakers can speak much faster than they can write, so they combine sounds, omit sounds, even words and phrases. Also, when you're talking to someone, you have the opportunity to ask them to repeat what they've said and/or to explain what they've said, whereas with writing, you don't have the chance to ask the author questions, so the author has to leave in all the sounds, all the words, and all the phrases, so that readers will be able to understand what's being communicated.
    Last edited by Casiopea; 01-Jun-2006 at 11:01.

    • Join Date: Jun 2006
    • Posts: 2

    Question Re: language history

    It's not what I meant. I'm asking about the difference in how you write e.g. truth and how you read it? Was there anything in the history of the english language than had an influence on that? Am I clear? How would you explain it to someone who is not an expert in English, why it is so.

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: language history

    Welcome, ankaa.

    Could you give us an example?

  4. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552

    Re: language history

    Do you mean why the spelling of a word is sometimes very different from its pronunciation? Why do we write "knight" but say it as if it were written "nite"?

    If so, then the answer is complicated. But a big part of the answer is: over the centuries, the pronunciation changed, but the spelling didn't.

    A language like German sometimes has spelling reforms, where the spelling is adapted and simplified. The German language is just in the process of revising its last spelling reform, which was very unpopular and confusing to many people. In this way, German (and other languages) can keep up to date with the changes that take place naturally.

    But this doesn't happen in English. There is no central body regulating how words should be spelled, so it's difficult to have a spelling reform. But take a word like "night". Why does it have the "gh" in the middle?

    Well, originally, the "gh" was pronounced, rather like the "ch" in the German word "Nacht" (which means the same -- the two languages are related). But over many, many generations, the "gh" sound got weaker and weaker, and finally it disappeared altogether -- except in a few places: some Scottish people, for example, still pronounce it the old way. But people didn't change the spelling.

    Also, Samuel Johnson is responsible for a lot of our spellings. He wrote a famous dictionary a few hundred years ago, and although it wasn't the first dictionary, it did have a big effect.

    Johnson wasn't very good with his spelling, though. For example, the opposite of "deign" is "disdain" -- so it's his fault.

    Also, in his day, there were two main dialects of English: east and west. Sometimes, Johnson tried to spell the word so that easterners and westerners could both understand it. One word was pronounced "bild" in one dialect and "buld" in another, so he wrote both vowels and now we have the word "build".

    In the early days of the United States, some people tried to have a spelling reform there, to make English a bit easier to write. They didn't get very far, but they had some small success: that's why some words are spelled differently in the USA -- "center" instead of "centre"; "traveled" instead of "travelled" and so on.

    So you see, it's a simple question with a very complicated answer.

    • Join Date: Jun 2006
    • Posts: 2

    Red face Re: language history

    Thank you, that was exacly what I meant :) and I can see that it's very complicated but at least now I have some information about it. I can see that learning is sometimes difficult and help is needed. Thank you for answering or trying to answer.

  5. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: language history

    You're welcome, ankaa. Rewboss is nice to have around.

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