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Why is it speaking/speech instead of speeking/speech or speaking/speach?

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1  
You do realize that English spelling is mostly arbitrary, like Chinese characters, and is not supposed to "make sense". Right? –  John Lawler Apr 3 '12 at 0:33
    
Ok, I guess that's the answer then. –  Chloe Apr 3 '12 at 0:38
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The fact that you have break and breach both spelt with ea confirms how arbitrary it can be. –  Alan Gee Oct 13 '12 at 9:21

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The spelling history of speech from the OED:

α. OE–ME spræc, sprec, ME sprace, spræche.

β. OE spæc, spec, ME spece, ME spæche ( spache, spiche), ME–15 speche (ME spieche), ME–15 spech, 15– speech, 15–16 speach, speache; Sc.15 speitche, 15–16 speiche.

The spelling history of speak from the OED:

α. OE sprecan, spreocan, spræcan; north. spreca, spræca, -spreaca; sprecca, spræcca; ME sprecon.

β. OE specan (ME -on), OE–ME specen, ME speken (ME Orm. spekenn), ME spekyn; OE–ME spæcon, ME -en, ME spæ(c)ken; ME speoken.

γ. ME–15 speke, ME–15 spek, ME spec, speck, ME speike, 15–16 speake, 15–17 Sc. speik, 15– speak (Irish 17–18 spake).

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Wow I totally didn't understand that, but looks legit. With so many variations, perhaps someone at some point did spell them similar, but they were not popular enough. –  Chloe Apr 3 '12 at 1:14
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That just gives more of the difference. Can you elaborate on 'why'? –  Mitch Apr 3 '12 at 1:30
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@Mitch: whimsy and serendipity. –  Brett Reynolds Apr 3 '12 at 11:19

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