This page is for categorizing and recording the influences that French and other external spelling systems have had on the spelling of English, in order to better evaluate which spellings in Anglish ought to be changed from the modern English standard, and which ought to be retained.
Elements of modern English spelling that derive from French influence:
The use of "v"
- previously, words with this sound were spelled with either "f", or in older writings, "b"
The use of “soft” c and g
- Soft c:
- In native Anglish words, this cannot represent historical "c"
- Instead it is used in words like "ice" which were earlier spelled with "s"
- This convention does help distinguish the two "s" sounds: "ice" and "wise" do not rhyme
- Affected words: many, but here are a few of the most common:
- once, twice, thrice
- ice (OE īs)
- mice, lice (OE mȳs, lȳs) (compare Modern English spelling of mouse, louse)
- Soft g (and by extension, the trigraph "dge"):
- most words with this are from French anyway
- Exception: words like “bridge” (these used to be spelled with the cg digraph)
The use of the digraph “gu” to represent a hard “g” sound before an "e" or "i" (Note: native English words descended from Old English generally don't have a hard "g" before an "e"; many of the words with this combination of sounds are borrowed, from either French or Norse)
- guest (Norse borrowing)
- this may be the cause of the spelling "guilt" (I'm not sure; it may instead be a remnant of the OE "y" sound, similar to the spelling of "built", or an oddity like "busy" and "bury")
The use of the digraph “ch” (and by extension, the trigraph “tch”)
- Previously, the simple letter “c” was used to represent this sound
- Example affected words:
- child (OE cild)
- witch (OE wicca (masculine), wicce (feminine))
The use of the digraph “qu” instead of “cw”
- Example affected words:
- quick (OE cwic)
- queen (OE cwēn)
The use of the digraph “ue” and the letter “long u” in place of the digraph “eu/ew”
- in native English words, this sound always derives from a diphthong, and therefore from an etymological point of view should generally correspond with the spelling “eu/ew"
- Example affected words (usually other words derived from these have similar spelllings):
- true, truth, truly, truce (OE trēowe, trēowð, getreōwlīce)
- hue (OE hīw)
- clue (OE cliewen) (this word originated in Modern English as a spelling variant of the word "clew")
- blue (although this word was partly influenced by French)
- rue (OE hrēowe) (the herb name has a separate, French etymology)
As a counterpart to the above, the use of the French digraph "ou/ow" for what developed in truth from Old English long "u"
- Affected words: all of the words where "ou" or "ow" represents the sound in "mouse" or "how" rather than the sound in "soul" or "grow"
- to bow (OE būgan) (the differently-pronounced noun is from OE boga)
- mouse (OE mūs)
- ground (OE grund)
- Possible respelling: unfortunately, there is no good respelling that would work in the current system. The most obvious would be "uu" or "uw", but these do not suggest the right sound to an eye accustomed to reading Modern English. The next most obvious might be "au/aw", but this would clash with a preexisting digraph.