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Kjell Rehnstrom wrote:
 
> Now for Gode's letter:
> This is a truism: spoken language is _never_ affected by the orthography.
> Orthography doesn't even enter into the speaking aspect of a language.
> Orthography is a means of matching up the _written_ language with the
> _spoken_ language. When it fails to do so (as is often the case in English)
> it is the orthography that is at fault, not the spoken language, by definition.
 
[massive cut]
 
In fact, orthography does occasionally influence pronunciation.  An example is the
Anglicisation of Chinese words such as "tao" (pronounced with a /t/ in English but
a /d/ in Mandarin).  These were originally transcribed in Wade-Giles romanisation,
then pronounced according to English phonology by people unfamiliar with this
rather idiosyncratic system.
 
Another interesting etymological/orthographical case ....
 
The English word "female" was originally spelt and pronounced "femmel", and is
etymologically unrelated to "male".  Later, (in the renaissance, if I remember
rightly) scholars decided that it _was_ related, and changed the spelling, despite
the absence of any "fe-" prefix - a bit like deciding that "feline" derives from
"lion".  This revised spelling gave rise to the modern pronunciation.  I actually
read one feminist refusing to use the word "female" because she believed it derived
from "male", but then bad etymology has always been a curse of politics (as in the
infamous "herstory" case, or a Turkish fundamentalist politician's pronouncement
that "democracy" meant "rule by demons").
 
Robin Turner