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Why do written English vowels differ from other Latin-based orthographies?

I noticed that in English some words that have the same letters (except for the first), have a different pronunciation, like:

bat (short a)

bet (same sound but shorter)

let (same sound)


me thee fee


dog (long o) hot (short o)

Is there a (historical?) reason for it?

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, yoozer8, Mitch, John Lawler, user11550 Mar 1 '12 at 6:08

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  • 3
    The words bat and bet do not have the same vowel. The first is [æ] while the second is [ɛ]. – JSBձոգչ Mar 1 '12 at 2:05
  • @FumbleFingers actually it's not a duplicate, mine is ambiguous, the other question seems not to be. – Michel Keijzers Mar 1 '12 at 2:07
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    @Michel Keijzers: If the specific thing you want to know isn't covered by nohat's answer to the earlier question, you should prompt him with a comment there. I really don't think there's any special "historical" reason relevant to your question that both isn't, and shouldn't be covered there. – FumbleFingers Mar 1 '12 at 2:13
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    @tchrist, I believe he means a "long short o", and a "short short o" – Bidella Mar 1 '12 at 2:53
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    This is silly. English letters have almost nothing to do with English pronunciation, and attempting to explain that they do is a waste of time and effort. Better go look at the GVS, as FF suggests. – John Lawler Mar 1 '12 at 3:41

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