Is enuf enough?
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If you’ve only heard a word in English spoken and had to guess how to spell it, you’d be struggling. So why is there such a difference between the spelling of a word and the pronunciation?
Writing systems are a secondary form of language – they reflect speech. And while spoken English has changed radically over the past millennium, English spelling was pretty much standardised by the mid-18th century. Which means the way we spell today reflects how English was spoken hundreds of years ago.
The written language has gone through radical changes. The alphabet has shifted constantly – from futhorc runes, to the thorn and the eth, through to the 26 letters we use today. The Norman conquest marked the shift from Old English to Middle English, while the Great Vowel Shift and the printing press helped define Early Modern English. And the American revolution spurred on further changes that are still in modern English today, thanks to Noah Webster.
Middle English dictionary
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) guide
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