Thursday, 11 February 2010

spelling reform

In the 16th century, some words were respelled to clearly show their Latin origin. det became debt (Latin dēbitum), scol became school (Latin schola), and etik became hectic (Latin hecticus). But sometimes the spelling reformers got it wrong. They changed iland to island, in the belief that the word was related to isle from Latin insula - but in fact it's from Old English īeġland, a combination of īeġ "island" and land.

The same thing happened in France. Letters were added to reflect the words' Latin origins, even tho the sounds had long been lost. doi became doigt "finger" (Latin digitum), pié became pied "foot" (Latin pedem), and set became sept "seven" (Latin septem). Mistakes were made: pois became poids "weight" in the belief that the word was derived from pondum "weight", but in fact it is from pensum, neuter past participle of pendo "to weigh".

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