Why is 'Done' pronounced with a short ŏ vowel sound instead of the long ō vowel sound? Rules typically dictate when a word ends with an E, it changes the O to a long vowel sound. I've tried to find the etymology, but can't really find anything.
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Two words: vowels shifted.
In general, there are no perfect rules in English spelling. As this article notes, there are at least three ways to pronounce words ending in -one: bone, gone, done. Similar pairs or trios can be found for any common spelling scheme in Englishes across the globe.
In exploring the applicability of the "magic " or "silent e" rule, the Dictionary of the British English Spelling System (2015) says that the collocation of letters o.e (o, a consonant, and e) generates a long o or /əʊ/ (bone) 95% of the time (p. 453). Combined with similar rules for other vowels, that's a good enough rule for a spelling class. However, two major exceptions occur for this: having a short u or /ʌ/ (done, love) or having the final letter e be pronounced with a long e or /i/ (abalone).
Done (and some other o.e words using /ʌ/) is an exception because of changes in vowel pronunciation between Middle English and today. Here is how the Oxford English Dictionary explains it within its etymology of do, v.:
The Old English past participle shows the -n ending of the strong past participle and apparently the same stem vowel as in the present stem (usually as prefixed -dōn : see Forms 7α). The rare Old English past participle form -dēn (only attested in prefixed form: see Forms 7β) apparently shows an i-mutated form of ō (reflecting variation in the participial suffix). [Like does], modern standard English done ( Brit. /dʌn/ , U.S. /dən/ ) reflects a shortening of the reflex of Middle English long close ō.
The sound change is rather complex, but the first step is traced through step 2 of this chart modeling the Great Vowel Shift:
From here, the /u/ sound shifted further to /ʌ/ via /ʊ/. In common pronunciation terms, we went
- from the o sound in bone (/o/)
- to the oo sound in boon (/u/)
- to the oo sound in foot (/ʊ/)
- to the o sound in done. (/ʌ/)
And if you're American, we stop the last step at the unaccented vowel /ə/:
- to the unaccented "uh" vowel in done (/ə/)
In other words, we moved where the vowel was pronounced in the mouth over time, just as we did for thumb and dumb, which had -ome or -oom forms in Middle English:
It's hard to say more because it's hard to explain why the Great Vowel Shift happened, but that's the track done followed.