The Alphabet

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The Alphabet

Postby dtp883 » Sun 06 Dec 2009 5:26 am

I'm sure all of you know why we use the Latin alphabet in English and I like English orthography but have any of you noticed these illogicalities. This list isn't going to be a silent letters are evil, ough makes 100 different sounds, or this letter makes so many sound, English spelling needs to die rant, it's simply some orthographic things I notice and think about when I'm reading that most people normally don't list or note.

-The letter x being a simple combination of consonants /ks/ while some sounds like /ð/ are written with digraphs like th.

-There being letters like z and q which are used very rarely and share there sound with other letters like s and k or c while much more common sounds like /θ ð ʃ/ are limited to digraphs or certain combinations of letters. By usage these three sounds are some of the most common in English.

-/dʒ/ being represented orthographically three different ways as the letter J, at the beginning of words, G, before E sometimes, and dg, usually in the middle of words whereas it's voiceless counterpart is normally written only as ch.

Do you guys notice these? Are there any others that you notice?
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Re: The Alphabet

Postby sokuban » Tue 08 Dec 2009 2:52 am

I actually like English orthography for the most part. I like the morphophonemic spelling, and a couple irregularities and things that don't make sense are like some spices sprinkled on.

The only think I could complain about is how sometimes it is a cross between morphophonemic and phonetic spellings. I can't really think of an example off the top of my head, but I'm sure you understand what I mean. Some morpheme alternants show up in the orthography even though it could easily be handled by simple phonological rules—in fact in other parts of the language it might actually be done so.
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Re: The Alphabet

Postby footpanda13 » Thu 10 Dec 2009 3:15 am

I actually like English orthography for the most part. I like the morphophonemic spelling, and a couple irregularities and things that don't make sense are like some spices sprinkled on.

Very nice simile ;)

To OP, I'm not exactly fond of English orthography, but as you said, it's what makes the language what it is. I'm not sure i've spotted any more "illogicalities," because you pretty much pinpointed the three most annoying ones...
...besides silent E's.
γνῶθι σεαυτόν.
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Re: The Alphabet

Postby dtp883 » Thu 10 Dec 2009 6:47 am

The reason I didn't include silent E's is because they are often cited as being difficult in English :lol: and they are important.

-Distinguish vowel quality. Fat and Fate. Mat and Mate.
-Produce soft sounds. Gag and Gauge. Mic and Mice.
-Keep certain letters, particularly v from ending words. Give, Live, Love, or Dove.
-Preserve entomology.
-Form plurals. Glass and Glasses not Glasss. lol :D
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Re: The Alphabet

Postby Neqitan » Thu 10 Dec 2009 7:03 am

From the viewpoint of someone learning English, you can never tell where an <u> has /ʌ/ or /ʊ/, neither where an <s> is standing for a /s/ or a /z/. So they have to be memorized. :?

So <lose> has /z/ but <loose> has /s/. Budding has /ʌ/, pudding has /ʊ/.

I must also say I've always been haunted by the presence of /ɨ/, since it varies so much on dialects I tend to give it little importance, though inside I'd probably like to know more on it (specially about its presence in the dialect spoken around me).
dtp883 wrote:-Preserve entomology.
And thus English verbs shall preserve the biological diversity on the planet.

:P

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entomology
-Form plurals. Glass and Glasses not Glasss. lol :D

That <e> is standing for a /ɨ/ here though (if you have a Rosa's-roses merger then it would be a /ə/). /glæs/, /glæsɨz/.
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Re: The Alphabet

Postby Talib » Thu 10 Dec 2009 7:57 pm

As far as I know [ɨ] is a reduced form of /ɪ/ in unstressed syllables. So it's not a separate phoneme. And as has been mentioned, some speakers merge it with /ə/ (I do, although I can hear the difference).
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Re: The Alphabet

Postby Sobekhotep » Fri 11 Dec 2009 12:26 am

Neqitan wrote:if you have a Rosa's-roses merger

I usually pronounce Rosa as [hɔzɐ] or as [rosa] if I know it's referring to a Hispanic, so that merger could never happen in my idiolect.
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Re: The Alphabet

Postby Neqitan » Wed 16 Dec 2009 1:26 am

Talib wrote:As far as I know [ɨ] is a reduced form of /ɪ/ in unstressed syllables. So it's not a separate phoneme. And as has been mentioned, some speakers merge it with /ə/ (I do, although I can hear the difference).

Well, then let's say it's just impossible to tell if an <e> is standing for an /ə/ or /ɪ/.

Also, notice how <aCe> stands for /eɪC/ in "make, plague, affectionate, considerate"... And how it is pronounced in "private".

Sean of the Dead posted a very insteresting poem in another forum, and it contains all kinds of crazy usages of the orthography where the spelling doesn't hint well the pronunciation.

Here it is: (copy it and paste it somewhere else)
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
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Re: The Alphabet

Postby Talib » Wed 16 Dec 2009 2:25 am

I think the plural ending -es is always pronounced [ɨz] when it's not reduced to [z]. Eg. faces, vases vs. calves, battles.
Also, notice how <aCe> stands for /eɪC/ in "make, plague, affectionate, considerate"... And how it is pronounced in "private".
Eh? The latter two are pronounced [ə.ˈfɛk.ʃən.ɨt] and [kən.ˈsɪd.əɹ.ɨt].
Sean of the Dead posted a very insteresting poem in another forum, and it contains all kinds of crazy usages of the orthography where the spelling doesn't hint well the pronunciation.
Here are several more: http://www.spellingsociety.org/news/media/poems.php
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Re: The Alphabet

Postby Neqitan » Wed 16 Dec 2009 2:55 am

Talib wrote:
Also, notice how <aCe> stands for /eɪC/ in "make, plague, affectionate, considerate"... And how it is pronounced in "private".
Eh? The latter two are pronounced [ə.ˈfɛk.ʃən.ɨt] and [kən.ˈsɪd.əɹ.ɨt].

See!? I've been pronouncing them wrong all this time then. :P
Sean of the Dead posted a very insteresting poem in another forum, and it contains all kinds of crazy usages of the orthography where the spelling doesn't hint well the pronunciation.
Here are several more: http://www.spellingsociety.org/news/media/poems.php

Great!
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