I've noticed that modern English seems to have a very strong bias at the end of verbs towards the spelling "-ill" (i.e. with a double "l") instead of "-(consonant)-il". The overwhelming majority of such verbs (like to will, to kill, to mill, to fill, to spill, to grill, etc) are spelled with double "l". The only exception I could find so far is to bedevil.
Why is that? Is that related to some sort of etymology that shaped these verbs, or some other process like spelling reform?
I've tried to do some research and so far found that there's quite a few of non-verbs which end with "-(consonant)-il": anvil, basil, devil (which in fact brings to bedevil), council, daffodil, evil, stencil, tendril, nostril, until, vigil, pencil, etc.
Their origins seem to be different (Latin, Ancient Greek, Proto-Germanic => Old English => English path, etc), but the majority of them is of Ancient Latin / Greek origin:
- usually a noun was ending in "-elus" or "-ilus" in Ancient Latin ("-ελος" or "-υλος" in Greek),
- then it was converted to "-illus" in Medieval Latin,
- then it lost "-us" ending in transition to Middle English, making it up to "-ill",
- then it lost second "l" in modern English, making it up to "-il".
The process for "-ill" verbs seems to be similar, but somehow ends up differently, for example, for to mill:
- classical Latin "mola" / vulgar Latin "molinus" / Greek "μυλο"
- Proto-Germanic "*mulīnō" or "*mulīnaz"
- Old English "mylen"
- Middle English "mille" (double "l" appeared!)
- modern English "mill" (double "l" wasn't abridged from Middle English)
It seems that losing double "l" is in fact a fairly modern invention: in fact, Middle English tends to spell most of "(consonant)-il" with double "l" and "-e" or "-en" ending, and then some transition happened in a few past centuries. Am I on the right track? Can I read somewhere about these reforms?