On 6 Mar 08, at 15:50, Burke, Edward wrote:
> Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
I know that's meant jokingly, but unfortunately while it's provoking
a smile, it's also perpetuating an urban myth.
Jeanne Chall in her book "Learning to Read" offers a couple of
tantalizing references to the regularity of English spelling, for
Hay & Wingo, 1954, asserted that 85% of English words are spelled
regularly; John B. Carroll, 1964, estimates that 95% of English words
have a regular relationship between spelling and pronunciation.
N.B. *regularity* in spelling is not the same as strictly *phonetic*
As for the variations in pronunciation, wound/wound, and so on, these
too are largely regular.
One single effect makes English spelling less phonetic than many
other languages: printing, thanks to Caxton (and others) stabilized
the spelling not very long at all before there was a major shift in
pronunciation. But as said, a less than phonetic spelling doesn't
mean spelling is an arbitrary hodge-podge of irregularities. Quite
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