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On Wed, 24 Jan 2001 22:28:43 +0000, Raymond Brown <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

>At 10:00 pm -0600 23/1/01, Eric Christopherson wrote:
>>John Cowan wrote:
>>>r
>>>/Ar/ (mysterious change in vowel)
>>
>>As I recall, there was a sound change in English from /er/ to /ar/, but
>>it seems to me it never became universal,

In fact, it was nearly universal, but it most cases
it affected the spelling, too: _dark_ < OE _deorc_,
_star_ < OE _steorra_, etc.; sometimes it didn't, as
in _heart_, (British) _clerk_, _sergeant_.

Most modern words with short e + r (or rr) not
followed by a vowel are either the result of secondary
shortening (_stern_, _herd_, cf. more common spellings
like _learn_, _heard_) or examples of 'spelling pronunciation'
- most Latinisms and Grecisms, (American) _clerk_.

Sometimes two variants of same word survive with a differentiation
in meaning: _person_ vs. _parson_.


Basilius