Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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1English Spelling is not easy. This is universally known. There are several reasons. I address a few in this book.
First, I mention the fact that English does not have enough letters to accommodate the approximate forty-four sounds in English. I say approximate because some scholars feel the number of sounds is a few more and some say it’s a few less. There are twenty-six letters in the alphabet. It’s ironic that three of them don’t need to exist. I’m referring to the letters c, q, and x.
Concerning the letter c, such words as can, cup, and curl could be spelled kan, kup, and kurl.
Such words as cell, fence, and ace could be spelled sell, fense, and ase.
Concerning the letter q, such words as quit, quaint, and quest could be spelled kwit, kwaint, and kwest.
Concerning the letter x, such words as expel, extend, expert could be spelled ekspel, ekstend, and ekspert. And such words as exert, exam, and exist could be spelled egzert, egzam, and egzist.
There are twenty-five consonant sounds in English (some say a few more; some say a few less). Most consonants are spelled the way they sound. Some consonant sounds can be made in two or more ways. Let’s look as some examples:
The f Sound is usually made using the letter f, but the letters ph can also be used as in such words as photo, phase, phone, alphabet, sphere, and asphalt.
The z Sound is usually made using the letter z, but the letter s can also be used as in such words as boys, logs, and rugs. The letter x can be used as in such words as xylophone, xenophile and xeric.
The above is possibly as bad as it gets so far as consonants are concerned.
The vowel Sounds are more complex. There are eighteen vowel sounds (some say a few more; some say a few less).
Let’s look as examples:
Consider the oo Sound as in the word tool. The following words all contain this sound. Note the different ways that this sound can be expressed:
too, woo, zoo, boo
you, youth, route, soup
glue, clue, rue, blue
new, drew, dew, blew
Let’s consider the ay Sound as in play. The following words all contain this sound. Note the different ways that this sound can be expressed:
say, play, ray, stay
reign, weigh, neigh
rein, veil, vein
ail, sail, jail, tail, nail
they, prey, grey
ate, tale, rage, shape, rate
And the ee Sound as in see. The following words all contain this sound. Note the different ways that this sound can be expressed:
eel, see, teen, free, wee, seen
piece, lien, chief
scene, gene, mete
eat, beat, weak, speak
me, be, we, he, she
key, alley, honey
And the oh Sound as in oh. The following words all contain this sound. Note the different ways that this sound can be expressed:
oak, load, foal, oaf
old, bold, cold, comb
toe, woe, doe, hoe
dome, bone, robe, rope
bow, sow, bowl, own
And the I Sound as in tie. The following words all contain this sound. Note the different ways that this sound can be expressed:
ire, bite, fire, mile, mike
light, might, night, fright
sigh, nigh, high
by, sty, fry,
lie, pie, tie
rye, bye, dye, rye
rhyme, type, byte
Another spelling problem is caused by words that sound the same but have different spellings. These are called homophones. Examples are cell and sell; sail and sale; no and know; meet and meat; so, sew, and sow; to, too, and two; for, fore, and four. There are many more.
Here is some good news. While English spelling is difficult, it makes an intriguing subject for study if one has the interest.