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90

The Tironian et and the modern ampersand had different origins, with the Tironian et having been invented as one of ~13,000 symbols/shorthand by Cicero's scribe, Tiro. It persisted until it succumbed to a linguistic witch hunt during the middle ages, when suspicion was cast upon it for appearing to be a rune or secret cipher. (This detail has been rightly ...


55

The answer to this question is very complex if all details have to be included; but here is a very simplified version: Homorganic lengthening Some time in the later stages of Old English (so some time around 1000 AD or so), a sound change happened whereby vowels were lengthened if they were immediately followed by a homorganic consonant cluster, i.e., two ...


45

Is it -er, -ar, or -or? The first thing to understand about historical variation in modern beggar versus older begger is that the history of writing ‑ar, ‑er, ‑or for English word-endings is rather complex and not a little muddled. It is unwise to look for perfect predictability here. In answer to your question about why other words didn’t do that, it ...


44

Even though it looks like a seven, it's actually a shorthand character called a "Tironian et" From http://www.ualberta.ca/~sreimer/ms-course/course/abbrevtn.htm Tironian nota for "et" (this frequently looks like a small number "7" or, later, a "z" or a "z" inside a circle; cf. the ampersand: &): Tiro was a member of Cicero's household who ...


19

Well, the vagaries of English spelling are legendary. This is one of its more peculiar ones. According to Etymonline.com, c.1200, from Old French begart, originally a member of the Beghards, lay brothers of mendicants in the Low Countries, from Middle Dutch beggaert "mendicant," of uncertain origin, with pejorative suffix (see -ard). Compare Beguine. ...


7

Mom(m[a/y])/mum(my)/mama and mother are completely different words and the former is not an abbreviation or contraction of the latter. Compare the other parent: the short, informal words for father are da(d(dy)) and papa/poppa (in different dialects/times). Here it’s more obvious that the ‘full’ word and the ‘short’ words are completely unrelated. ‘Short’ ...


7

Willard Van Orman Quine, the great polymath, on this topic (Quiddities, p115-116): Examples [of historical relics in English that can reward contemplation] are evident at every turn. Let me cite one of the less evident ones: the ending -ar in beggar, burglar and pedlar. In our words of Old English origin the usual ending for agent is -er, and in words ...


6

The Arabic/Indian numerals are most unlikely to have been known in England in the 12th century, so you can rule out the derivation of this symbol from the number 7. By the way, the Peterborough Chronicle is not in Old English, but Early Middle English.


5

@Robusto has the answer, however, to magnify a little, beggar is probably not, as we might assume, derived from the verb "to beg" as with many of the other examples you give. On the contrary, the verb is derived from the noun. So normal formation would not be expected. Also from Etymonline: beg c.1200, perhaps from Old English bedecian "to beg," from ...


3

You've got things backward in your question. Orthographic <u> doesn't ‘sound’ like anything at all: it's a letter, not a sound. Writing is an attempt (both syn- and diachronic) to represent the sounds and patterns of spoken language on paper. Different people speaking different languages have approached this task in different ways throughout the ages. ...


3

As a gross general rule of thumb, word final single 'e' gets deleted before suffixes beginning with vowels, especially grammatical suffixes. So we don't have: liveing liveed giveer blueish trueer trueest sizees Instead we get: living lived giver bluish truest sizes Wherever seems to fit this rule of thumb. Hope this is helpful!


3

Jiffy in Great Britain We have in 1796 the following entry in Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Note how he spelt the word with an -e. That spelling variant has haunted me ever since I saw it. The letter -e substituting -i leads me to pronounce jeffy as | ˈdʒefi | whilst jiffy is pronounced as | ˈdʒɪfi | Until I stumbled upon ...


3

Grammatically speaking, all the three constructs are correct. The non-contracted first one is more formal. The choice between the other two can be made only by euphonic considerations, i.e. whichever sounds nicer or is easier to pronounce given the surrounding words. The very colloquial I'd've is not unheard of either.


3

Your rule is not correct for i+nd: find, kind, mind, behind. There are other consonant groups where your rule is not correct as in child, mild, wild. When i is followed by r + consonant the pronunciation is neither /i/ nor /ai/ as in bird, mirth. Complicated explanations about historical sound changes don't help learners much. Good books about present-day ...


2

Your first sentence is incorrect. Sometimes it is pronounced as a short vowel, and sometimes long. English has drawn from so many different languages, it is almost astonishing there is consistency at all. You will find that where words have come from the same source, they will often have the same (or similar) rules, but where some come from Latin ...


2

Google iThinkMedia the name “Google”, which actually came from a spelling error made by Larry Page when attempting to write “Googol” which meant the number 1 followed by one million zero’s (symbolising endless results). cocoa APS The term cocoa comes from a spelling error made during shipping of cacao seeds. aluminum Valencia College ...


2

It is generally called the silent e rule: Suffix addition: dropping silent e The silent e rule is more consistent than the doubling rule. The principle: since the silent e's "job" is to change a vowel sound, if there is another vowel to take its place, the e can go away. Therefore, if the suffix begins with a vowel, you drop the e. It doesn't ...


2

In British English. Practise with an S is a verb, with a C a noun. The same is true for License/Licence. Advise/Advice is the same again - but sounds different, so it's a good way to remember which is which, if you find it difficult!


2

I had a coworker that used "postphone" when she wanted to postpone something. What was particularly funny about it was that she initially wrote "postphone" and in subsequent emails changed to "post phone" and "post-phone". My guess is that she was trying to figure out why Outlook didn't like her spelling.


2

For some reason I can't get this graph to display the apostophized r's and R's here, but if you click on this chart to follow the link (where you also have to click "Search books" on that page)... ...you'll see that the capitalised versions have always been more common, but over recent decades the apostophized version the three R's has gained currency to ...


1

The thing you need to remember about the word wherever is that it used to be two words, and began life that way. For quite a while it was written that way, too, but then it started getting hyphenated. When finally the hyphen itself was lost, it made no sense to write with two e’s the sound of just one of them. The OED says: Orginally as two words (and ...


1

The term "whitespace" (without a space between "white" and "space") is, I think, borrowed from computing, in which characters that produce no on-screen glyphs, but only serve to separate groups of visible characters, are referred to collectively as "whitespace characters" (e.g. space, tab, new line). Since whitespace can refer to any one, or sequence, of ...


1

T. O. Churchill, A Grammar of the English Language (1823) identifies two somewhat surprising culprits as being responsible for the deplorable rise of the apostropheless its: printers, and English speakers who inexcusably use of the wrong contraction for "it is." Here is Churchill's argument: The word it's in particular, is now generally robbed of the ...


1

The short version is: just because it is. Even native speakers have to learn the pronunciation of each completely new word separately; and in general English words are likely to have multiple different pronunciations. My only general advice to you is to consult the pronunciation information in a reliable source like the OED, or find a recording of a native ...



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