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On Sun, Jan 20, 2013 at 12:04 AM, Nikolay Ivankov <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> As to why, it is a tradition. Sometimes even superficially established. I
> don't speak French myself, but I know that in the French word _doigt_ there
> was nothing like [g] since at least 7th century AD. But /g/ was in the
> Latin word _digitum_ that finally gave rise to _doigt_. So the grammarians
> included /g/ to keep track of the language's history, although at no point
> of the history of French language people seemed to pronounce _doigt_ like
> [doigt] (though [dojt] seem to have taken place).
>
> As for other languages, it is more then common. English and AFAIK Danish
> may be named as the ones that preserve most oddities, and Russian was like
> that before the orthography reforms of early XX century. Virtually every
> language, in which the pronunciation of /c/ depends of the next sound are
> applying the old norms of Latin, where /c/ was pronounced as /k/ in all
> positions.
>
> In fact, as the languages develop, it is inevitable that orthographic
> norms start reflecting not an actual pronunciation, but some older version
> of language. In a way, all languages do this, the question is, how much.
>

Small correction: every language that is written with some sort of abajad
or alphabet. But even only semi-abjad Japanese uses the hiragana-symbol
"ha" to write [wa] of the nominative case, which, AFAIR, reflects its old
pronunciation as [pa].


> On Sat, Jan 19, 2013 at 5:48 PM, Mathieu Roy <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>
>> Are these phenomenon present in a lot of languages? If so, in what way?
>>
>> Mathieu
>>
>> -----Message d'origine-----
>> De : Constructed Languages List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] De la
>> part de R A Brown
>> Envoyé : samedi 19 janvier 2013 10:22
>> Ą : [log in to unmask]
>> Objet : French spelling (was: logical language VS not-so-logical language)
>>
>> On 18/01/2013 19:28, BPJ wrote:
>> > On 2013-01-18 19:57, Mathieu Roy wrote:
>> >> I don't know if the following is true, but my French
>> >> teacher told me that monks in the past were paid by
>> >> letters and therefore were adding letters to some
>> >> words.
>>
>> A bit of a myth, methinks. Monks weren't paid.
>>
>> >> That would explain why a lot of words have for example
>> >> the letters "eau" pronounces as "o" (bateau, eau, beau,
>> >> chateau, etc.) or simply "au" pronounces as "o" (faux,
>> >> taux, etc.) or silent letter at the end (faux, taux,
>> >> etc.) or double letters that are indistinguishable from
>> >> one letter (balle, sale, association, etc.)
>>
>> No, it does not explain any one of those things.
>>
>> > It *is* true that they added letters here and there,
>>
>> Yes, especially by early printers to justify lines (monks
>> could justify them more easily by slightly modifying width
>> of letters and spaces).
>>
>> > but for the most part 'illogical' spellings in French
>> > reflect how the words were actually pronounced in the
>> > thirteent century.
>>
>> Exactly!  Yes, for the most part modern French spelling
>> reflects how the language was pronounced in the 13th
>> century.  The reason for _eau_ and _au_ now pronounced as
>> /o/, is that the spellings represent the pronunciation of
>> the 13th century, the modern pronunciation is the result of
>> sound changes that have taken place since.
>>
>> The reason silent letters occur at the end of words is that
>> they were not silent in the 13th century, but have become so
>> since.  The only oddity here is the final -x of some plurals
>> where _x_ was mistaken for a common handwritten abbreviation
>> of -us.
>>
>> > Some were meant to approximate the spelling to their
>> > Latin counterpart, sometimes mistakenly.
>>
>> That accounts for geminate consonants.
>>
>> Others were stuck in by learned or semi-learned people after
>> the renaissance; the same thing happened in English.  Some,
>> as BPJ says, were mistaken, e.g. _sēavoir_ (<-- sapere) with
>> the mistaken idea it had something to with Latin _scire_,
>> and _dipner_ (<-- VL. *disjunįre) with mistaken idea that
>> somehow it was related to Greek _deipnein_!  Fortunately,
>> the French were, for the most part, more sensible than their
>> English counterparts, and dropped nearly all these
>> absurdities, e.g. they now write: savoir, dīner.  The only
>> common survival that comes to mind is the _p_ in _sept_.
>>
>> --
>> Ray
>> ==================================
>> http://www.carolandray.plus.com
>> ==================================
>> "language … began with half-musical unanalysed expressions
>> for individual beings and events."
>> [Otto Jespersen, Progress in Language, 1895]
>>
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