Why does the English language have differences between orthography/spelling and pronunciation e.g. silent letters, combinations of letters that are sometimes pronounced and some other times not like "enough" and "though" ...etc?

could the answer be typed and the information you give could be stated in points e.g.




i wish to reply as soon as possible.

thanks >
1 2
This sure looks like a homework question that you're trying to get someone else to answer for you. If it's not, and you want diaglogue on this topic, then you post your ideas first.

the differances are due to borrowing words from other languages and the complicate developement in the history of english language
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Anonymouscould the answer be typed

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Anonymous Why does the English language have differences between orthography/spelling and pronunciation e.g. silent letters, combinations of letters that are sometimes pronounced and some other times not like "enough" and "though" ...etc?
This certainly does look like homework, but those doing homework do deserve an answer (but then they need to put it into their own words so that their teacher knows they're not cheating Emotion: wink )

The primary reason is that pronunciation of individual words, and in particular, the overall sound rules (phonology) of languages changes over time. All languages change the way certain things are pronounced and as far as research has been able to show, they do this continually and may never stop. That said, certain sound changes are more common than others. These common changes are usually the result of sound combinations which are difficult to say (because of the way the mouth must be moved) being replaced by versions that are easier to produce.

Sometimes it helps to look at the same word in two related languages to understand what has happened to the pronunciation over time. Consider the word 'through' in English and the word 'durch' in German. They both have the same meaning today and both are evolved (or changed) forms that started out as a common word in the parent language from which both German and English are derived.

through - durch: because many people have difficulty producing the 'th' sounds of English, they often replace them with /d/. 'th' and 'd' are produced in the mouth in the same way except for one small difference. That difference is the point where the tip of the tongue touches the mouth. For 'th' it's on the outer, inner, or bottom edge of the front teeth (the exact location changes from person to person). For 'd' it's the alveolar ridge which is that flat area of the top of the mouth behind the front teeth but before the edge where the roof of the mouth curves upward. That's a very small difference but one that's difficult for many people. So 'd' is considered the next closest sound to 'th' and thus a normal sound change is for 'th' to become 'd' so if we assume the German word has changed in this way (because German no longer has the 'th' sound) then durch => thurch.

In modern German 'ch' has a different sound than 'c' alone and could best be described as a soft 'k' immediately followed by a very very short 'h'. In modern English 'gh' has no sound at all. Most words in English that have 'gh' correspond directly to words in German that have 'ch' (light = licht, night = nacht, knight = knecht, etc). Now, while we don't know for sure exactly how these words were pronounced originally, what we do know is that whatever sound 'ch' represented in German, that 'gh' represented that same sound in English. Because English has changed over the centuries, and because so many cultures and languages have come to England and contributed to the language, some letters in the alphabet have changed. Originally both 'th' sounds (the 'th' in three and the 'th' in the) had their own letters called 'eth' and 'thorn'. Likewise the 'a' sound in apple and cat had its own letter called 'ash' (it looks like an a and an e stuck together). While some letters were lost, others were added. One of these letters was 'Y'. Today 'y' has three jobs. The first is as a consonant in words like yellow. This job originally belonged to the letter 'j'. The second job of 'y' is as a vowel which originally sounded like a mix of the 'u' in "cut" and the 'i' in "bit", but today may sound only like the 'i', like the 'i' in "pie", or even like the 'e' in "see". The third job of 'y' doesn't have a sound at all and only signals that the preceding vowel changes to a 'long sound' such as the 'a' in "day". Without 'y' at the end signaling "long vowel" "da(y)" would be pronounced like the 'a' at the end of "omega". Just as 'j' originally did the first job of 'y' and different vowels did its second job, the third job of 'y' originally belonged to 'g'. So when 'g' was used in some positions it didn't have a sound just like today's 'y'.

However, in other positions, 'g' did have a sound and that sound was likely just like the sound it has today in words like 'egg'. In English as with other languages, most sounds are grouped into pairs where two sounds are produced by making the same mouth movements but with the only difference being that one uses the vocal chords and the other doesn't. Some of these are P/B, T/D, S/Z, F/V, and K/G. Many times one letter was used to represent both of these sounds. Speakers knew whether the sound was voiced (b, d, z, v, g) or unvoiced (p, t, s, f, k) based on its position in the word (vowels are also considered voiced). In English a consonant that fell between two voiced (a vowel or a voiced consonant) sounds was always voiced. A consonant that did not fall between two voiced sounds was voiceless. There were other rules for when specific sounds were voiced or voiceless based upon their specific positions, but these are the basic rules. For this reason the word loaf (a loaf of bread) had a voiceless 'f' while the word loaves (plural) had a voiced 'v'. Originally though the same letter 'f' was used for both words (loaf / loafes) but because the 'f' in the plural word fell between two vowels which are voiced sounds, it became voiced. Later on we added the letter 'v' to represent this sound but the spelling stayed with us. 'G' behaved similarly to 'f' in this manner. When it was followed by a voiced sound or fell between two voiced sounds, it became voiced 'gold' or 'again'. However when it was not followed by a voiced sound, it became unvoiced 'k'. Just as the third job of 'y' today is to change the sound of a preceding vowel (and one of the original jobs of 'g'), one of the original jobs of 'h' (and probably the only job of 'h') was to signal a specific sound for the letter that preceded or followed it. 'H' often acted as a "placeholder" which kept a voiced sound from being next to something. If "light" had originally been spelled 'ligt', then the 'g' would sound like the 'g' in "egg" because the sound before it is voiced. However by putting in that 'h', there was now something that says "don't follow the rule for being next to 'i' ". Because the sound following 'g' was voiceless 't' and there was that 'signal' 'h' to say "ignore the effect of 'i'", 'g' could become voiceless 'k'.

I know that's complex, but basically depending on where a letter fell, two sounds (voiced and voiceless) were represented by the same letter. For g/k that letter was usually 'g' in English and 'c' in German so that the 'gh' in English light was exactly the same sound originally as the 'ch' in German licht. We don't exactly know which modern pronunciation (if either) is closer to the original but we do know they were the same. Because we know English 'gh' and German 'ch' were the same thing we can change further through - durch => through - thurch => through - thurgh.

The sounds that vowels express also change over time. At one time meat, meet, mete, and mate all had very difference sounds. Today depending on accent, these four words either have only two different sounds or even in some accents all sound the same. The letter 'u' had the sound 'ow' as in 'cow' in Old English. 'Oo' as in 'boot' in modern English was originally represented by the combination 'ou' as in "you". Thus, the 'ou' in English "through" is the same sound as the 'u' in German "durch". So, through - durch => through - thurch => through = thurgh => through - thourgh.

Finally, one of the most common sound changes is called transposition. This is when two letters switch positions. This is usually because it's easier to produce the sound combination in one position over another or sometimes seems to be for no reason that we have been able to determine. In the case of our example, the 'r' of through and durch have switched positions with the vowel 'oo'. So with that through - durch => through - thurch => through = thurgh => through - thourgh => through - through.

Now, this is not to say that 'durch' was originally 'through' in German. In fact, some of the changes could have been the other way around so that 'through' may have been closer to 'durch' in English. But, this does show that these two words that look very different today, are spelled very differently, and sound very different, are in fact the exact same word. And, it shows why sometimes spellings don't match what you think the pronunciation should be.
I lack words for this.somebody help

1.to avoid overuse of local dialect

2.to make English language sound almost same

3.Making English same leads to easy understanding

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