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The “Screwed-Up History” of English Spelling

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“English is full of these contradictions, making it one of the hardest languages to learn. Almost every spelling rule comes with a long list of exceptions… Many letters can have multiple sounds, and others seem to serve no purpose whatsoever. A K in knife, an H in ghost, an S in island? In fact, almost every letter of the alphabet is silent somewhere.

“Some have accused English spelling of being irrational and arbitrary, but, actually, there are good reasons why our spellings are so strange.”

Learn how a mix of languages and cultures, along with the invention of the printing press and a good amount of hypercorrection and inkhorn words, have all contributed to modern English. Plus, what does all this have to do with how we text, tweet, and meme today?

Sociolinguist Dr. Erica Brozovsky explains in this letter-filled episode of PBS Otherwords: The Screwed-Up History of English Spelling.

Watch these related videos about words next:
• Where do new words come from?
• Making Sense of Spelling
• O-U (The Hound Song) by Tom Lehrer
• What does OK stand for?
• Robot – Mysteries of vernacular
• How does a cruciverbalist create crossword puzzles?

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