S P E L L I N G
MATCHING LETTERS AND SOUNDS
The introduction of spelling, that is of the use of an alphabet, has a calming influence on changing of sounds in languages. But this influence is limited. Scholars responsible for official spelling, for example in my mother-tongue Dutch, encounter enormous problems in matching letters with real sounds. They never make it fully. In fact, f.e. a final d is to be pronounced as t. And there are many more examples of this kind.
The distinction in spelling between ch and g, s and z, c and k etc. has not always been too clear. Early texts, in Middle-Dutch, show that the people or scholars who started their "lawless" writing, had various opinions about the sounds they wanted to represent. We are not even sure how clearly distinct the sounds were in the past.
Yet, the efforts of governments to regulate spelling remain an indispensable condition for proper communication between people. If they go too far in adapting the writing of words to their sound, the comprehension of their origin is reduced. But if, like in English and French, adaptation of spelling to reality is fairly absent, the result is that the kids ( or foreigners ) in practice have to learn two versions of the language itself : the written and the spoken one.
It is hard to say which is better.Let us look once more at two Germanic words meaning respectively "human being" and "bush". This shows a rather wide variety of local pronunciations.
|New English||N.A. ( man )||bush|
|Dutch :|| || |
|Modern pronunciation||mens ||bos |
|Modern spelling||mens ||bos |
|Spelling before 1934||mensch ||bosch|
|Amsterdam dialect (phon)||minsh ||bosh|
|West Flemish (phon) ||menskh||boskh|
|High German (phon)||mensh||bush|
|Old High German/td>||mennisko||busk|
| ||mannisko|| |
Also in Hebrew there has been this lack of clear distinctions. The invention of the alphabet took place between North-West Semitic speakers nearly four thousand years ago, but
the speaking of the language of course was well established. And many roots had
lived their differentiations with the shaping of new words that came to have
new roots. For example roots with 3 consonants, as today is usual, based on
shorter ones from before.
PROCEDING WITH SELECTIVITY
In order to be reasonably certain in concluding
about common origins, one should find at least a considerable nearness in both factors : in meanings as well as in sounds/spelling .That is
what we propose to do in our comparison between a number of words. In this the
writer will have the considerable advantage of not being hampered by excessive
| Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: Thursday 10 January 2013 at 19.58.55