The following is a passage from Noah Webster's Preface to his Compendious Dictionary published in 1806. Could anyone help me understand the part of 'the consonant s, which no more belongs to the word, than any other letter in the alphabet'? Could you be kind enough to paraphrase or explain the part?
Johnson gives for the etymology of island, the Latin insula, the Italian isola, and ealand, which he calls Erse. Now the two first have nothing to do with the word, and the latter, tho it may be Erse, is also a Saxon word which the English dictionaries do not explain. The Saxons wrote the word igland, ealond, and ieland, which, with a strong guttural aspirate, are not very different in sound. It is a compound of ea water, still preserved in the French eau, and land,—ealand, water land, land in water, a very significant word. The etymology however was lost, and the word corrupted by the French, into island, which the English servilely adopted, with the consonant s, which no more belongs to the word, than any other letter in the alphabet. Our pronunciation preserves the Saxon ieland, with a trifling difference of sound; and it was formerly written by good authors, iland.