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On 19 Jan 2013, at 23:12, Nikolay Ivankov <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> 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].

Not necessarily. Same or similar sounding words in Classical Chinese have diverged in pronunciation despite bein written with the same radical(s). That could be interpreted as a parallel phenomenon. 

>> 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
>>> À : [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. _sçavoir_ (<-- sapere) with
>>> the mistaken idea it had something to with Latin _scire_,
>>> and _dipner_ (<-- VL. *disjunáre) 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, dîner.  The only
>>> common survival that comes to mind is the _p_ in _sept_.
>>> --
>>> Ray
>>> ==================================
>>> ==================================
>>> "language … began with half-musical unanalysed expressions
>>> for individual beings and events."
>>> [Otto Jespersen, Progress in Language, 1895]