Why is English spelling so hard?

Why is English spelling so hard?

Blame all those invaders from other countries who have messed about with the English language for over 2000 years.

A Brief History of English Spelling

The first inhabitants of England were the Celts who spoke a dialect from a large group of languages known as Indo European. Only a few words, mainly place names, remain from their language.

The Romans invaded in AD43 and stayed nearly 400 years. However, they kept their own language, Latin, separate from the Celtic dialect, Brythonic (from where we get the word Briton.)

Soon after the Romans left, England was invaded from mainland Europe by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes (known as the Anglo-Saxons). They forced the Celts out to the north and west and settled the area now known as England. The Anglo-Saxons spoke a different dialect of the Indo European language and many of our everyday words can be traced back to that time. Why is English spelling so hard?

Try to guess the modern word from these examples:

Old English word - and a clue

Type the modern word.

faeder   (family member)
sweoster   (family member)
seofon   (number)
feower   (number)
haett   (clothing)
scyrte   (clothing)
mete   (food)
hunig   (food)
heorte   (body part)
cwen   (female ruler)
hwaet   (question)
hwy   (question)


Skip this exercise and go to the next part of this unit: The next stage in the development of English. *

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Unit 35: Why is English spelling so hard?

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