150

My understanding is that Old English had two letters, thorn and eth, which were used interchangeably to represent the sound th as in thin or father. Pretty much. In some languages they were distinct, but in English, either letter could be used for voiced or voiceless. Intuitively, one might think that one of these letters would 'win', and replace the ...


55

It is because of the typewriter. A Swiss typewriter needs to support three languages: German, French, and Italian. Therefore on the Swiss typewriter, there was no ß key. It also has only lowercase umlauts ä, ö, and ü. A picture of a Swiss typewriter can be seen here. The lack of that key has led to a subsequent deprecation of the ß overall.


34

Despite its name, the ISO Basic Latin Alphabet isn't particularly concerned with representing Latin. It was developed in the modern day, so the fact that I~J and U~V weren't consistently distinguished until the 18th century isn't relevant—they're consistently distinguished now. But the observation that the ISO Basic Latin Alphabet aligns exactly with what's ...


31

Actually, “autarky” and “autarchy” are two different words. The former means “self-sufficiency” and comes from the Greek arkein “to suffice”. The latter means “absolute rule” and comes from Greek arkhē “rule”. They are pronounced the same in English, but not in Greek.


30

First, it's worth noting that these are transcriptions, used by linguists, not actual orthographies used by native speakers. The ancient Sumerians didn't write their word for "god" as diĝir; they wrote it as 𒀭. And the people who spoke something like Proto-Indo-European never wrote it down at all. It's only modern scholars who use the Latin alphabet for ...


29

The Swiss government has an explanation on p. 18. One contributing factor is typography, namely the rise of use of the Antiqua font, which was claimed to not include ß. I have no evaluation of the truthiness of that claim, for the relevant historical period, i.e. prior to 1901. It is certainly the case that its shape in Antique was not uniform. The rules ...


27

It’s worth pointing out that uppercase and lowercase characters are mostly a quirk of the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic alphabets.[1] While these alphabets probably make up a plurality of written texts,[2] many languages especially in Asia do not use these, and thus have no such uppercase/lowercase distinction. Second, some languages may use symbols that ...


26

WARNING: The question is sooo many-sided, it is very wide and can be split into at least 3 different questions. I'll answer it all, don't tell me later that you haven't been warned the answer would be long. First of all, this letter has no sound of its own. The main function of the soft sign <Ь> in Russian is to change the sound of the consonant letter ...


20

A "defective" spelling in Hebrew is one without matres lectionis. This term exists in Hebrew because Hebrew is an abjad which doesn't always mark vowels, and consequently, words can be spelled either plene (with matres lectiones) or defective (without). The term "defective" is also used of an orthography that can't represent all of its phonemes (defective ...


19

It certainly comes up occasionally, but mainly, I would think, across morpheme boundaries where one is a doubled letter and the other is that same letter but in its singular form (as in the new German orthography Schifffahrt, Balletttänzer, etc) or where a letter has both consonant and vowel values. Undoubtedly at some point uvula and any other words with ...


19

There is very little doubt they were pronounced: they are still pronounced in many languages other than English where they were loaned, and crucially in modern Greek; they were also spelled with those clusters when coeval Latin borrowed them. The fact you cannot pronounce them doesn't mean they cannot be pronounced... No offense, but everyone's ...


18

According to the Oxford English Dictionary's page for F: In manuscripts a capital F was often written as ff. A misunderstanding of this practice has caused the writing of Ff or ff at the beginning of certain family names, e.g. Ffiennes, Ffoulkes. (The pilgrimage of the life of man, English by John Lydgate, A. D. 1426 is an example of a manuscript where a ...


17

Word final consonants in French are pronounced, but only under certain conditions that has to do with group- or phrase phonology; they are usually not pronounced at the end of a phrase or a word uttered in isolation. Descriptions of late 17th century French suggest a stage where most consonants were (still) pronounced, but some were elided mainly before ...


16

To my understanding, it comes from TH and PH. In Ancient Greek, there were "aspirated" consonants written Θ and Φ, which literally sounded like "t followed by h" and "p followed by h". So when words with these consonants were borrowed into Latin, which didn't have these sounds natively and thus lacked special letters for them, they were respelled as TH and ...


15

This question isn't just about spelling, because when these spellings were standardised, it is highly likely that all these words ending with "-ear" were pronounced in the same way. However, gradually between the 15th and 17th centuries as standardisation was setting in, the Great Vowel Shift occurred, changing the pronunciation of the vast majority of the ...


15

In German, you can make up such words on your own, as needed. Find words that ends with two of some vowel, like schnee (snow), tee (tea) and words that begin with the same letter, and you have: Schneeeule, also written as Schnee-Eule to make it less confusing. Teeei, also written as Tee-Ei to make it less confusing.


15

Estonian "jäääär" ("edge of the ice") comes to mind. It contains the letter ä 4 times in a row.


13

Russian has several words with triple letters: длинношеее - 'having a long neck', also короткошеее - 'having a short neck' змееед - 'snake-eater', the name of a bird доооновский - 'pre-UN' зоообъединение - 'zoos' association'


13

Ancient Greek has ἀάατος "inviolable".


13

Sorry for digging up this old question but we finally have an answer. I reposted this question to puzzling stackexhange thinking they would be better equipped to solve it. Surely enough, within fifteen minutes of my posting, the user Deusovi recognized the script as the Elian script and deciphered the first few lines. Later, I spent some time to fully ...


13

I'll assume you're a native English speaker. Since English doesn't have these clusters, it's difficult for an English speaker to hear or produce them correctly. But it is not impossible, and there is no reason to think Ancient Greek speakers did not pronounce them. Word initial plosive-plosive clusters are definitely possible since they occur in modern ...


13

The explanation I remember seeing for the rise of the digraph “th” and fall of the letters thorn and eth in English spelling is influence from French spelling habits. You can see more details if you do a search for "digraph" in the paper "The evolution of English dental fricatives: variation and change", by Mateusz Jekiel (2012). Note that the history of ...


12

It came about like this. (Details about Greek here) When Greeks adopted the Punic abjad into an alphabet, they changed a lot of the letters, and added some new ones. The Punes hadn't needed vowel letters, for instance, due to the nature of the language, but the Greeks did. On the other hand, the Greeks didn't need the post-velar and emphatic consonants of ...


12

Corrections and additions to your list Korean does use spaces. Lao and Burmese (Myanmar) don't use spaces. Vietnamese uses spaces between syllables instead of between words (except some few recent loanwords). Tibetan and Dzongkha use other marks to separate syllables rather than words and don't use spaces in the way that English or other languages use them. ...


12

In biblical Hebrew, we have חננני "have mercy upon me" (Psalms 9:13 - although that's an unusual form; usually it would be with two נs, and the first would be marked with a gemination symbol) and מממלכה "from one kingdom" (Psalms 105:13 and I Chron. 16:20). Other examples would be possible according to Hebrew grammar, such as וווים "and hooks" or כשששה "when ...


12

There is no common conventions in French for replacing letters with diacritics by digraphs. In contexts where the diacritics are not available, the usage is just to omit them. This is still common on uppercase letters, and was very common in the early days of Internet when programs were not 8-bit clean and accented letters were causing problems. The ...


11

Typing these characters is fairly straightforward, if you have an appropriate keyboard (or can customize yours): they're simply the lowercase Latin letters <e a o>, followed by the character U+032F Combining Inverted Breve Below. This second character can't be copied and pasted on its own, since it's combining, but it should be available in any decent IPA ...


11

The number 22 in Dutch (and other numbers ending with 2) are written as tweeëntwintig - a compound of twee (two), en (and), and twintig (twenty). In Dutch, the diaeresis are added to the last recurring vowel to indicate a change in syllable; English has this also with Zoë and naïve.


11

General Remarks Different languages have different sound systems. So no romanization system can be perfectly faithful to the native language, and at the same time perfectly intuitive to speakers of another particular language. There have to be tradeoffs. In general, any large language not written in the Latin alphabet will have accumulated multiple ...


11

The Zulu language does not capitalise noun class markers but capitalises the proper noun itself, as in the name of the language isiZulu (isi- is the singular noun class 7 marker). Also, in Irish Gaelic orthography, the mutations of capitalised nouns are not capitalised, for instance nGaillimh, the nasal mutation of Gaillimh 'Galway'. (As Colin Fine points ...


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