Thursday, April 17, 2008

Every kindergartener thanks you....ya happy now?

Thanks a ton, Renaissance scholars/teachers. Why is there a b in the words debt and doubt? Turns out it's a Renaissance thing. Teachers at that time decided that Latin was more scholarly than French, from which we actually got use of those words. They were already words in English, borrowed from French, sans b. However, the teachers decided that they wanted to go back to the Latin roots (from which the French got them) and spell them using those Latin roots, but to go on pronouncing them their English way. This, and a whole lot more examples like them, is why English doesn't sound like it looks. Well, that and the Great Vowel Shift that took place just before Shakespeare's time, before which line and join rhymed, and knight was a two-syllable word in which the k was pronounced.

Can you tell I've been listening to my "History of the English Language" class? It's really just fascinating!


Susan said...

Lucy's learning to read and is the champion of sounding out words. Assuming, of course, that it's possible. Her teachers call them "puzzle words," where g is pronounced like j and b's are silent. I like the idea of explaining IN DETAIL how the word came about. It would be great for when she has a blog of her own and can complain about me.

Ambley said...

So funny - just last night we were catching up on "The Tudors" when my hubby asked me whether the way they were pronouncing words onscreen was really what it would've sounded like in 1523. I was able to tell him that actually, were they speaking as though Henry and Anne really did in 1523, we wouldn't understand any of it due to the Great Vowel Shift and other items that I cheerfully detailed.

Who would ever think that this would come in handy in real life before Aidan's trying to read and I can explain it IN DETAIL to him?