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Where do the irregularities come from?

History of English OE: 27 graphemes for 40 phonemes Norman Conquest: French scribes respelled a great deal of the language, introducing new conventions: qu for cw (queen), gh for h (night) and c before e and i (circle, cell). Printing: Foreign printers (from Holland). Line justification: abbreviation or contraction of words, addition of extra letters. Fixation of spellings after printing: sound changes - especially 'Great Vowel Shift' - not considered. ME name ModE name ME sweet ModE sweet ME ride ModE ride Similarly, simpifications in consonant clusters not reflected: ME knowe ModE know ME knight ModE knight ME write ModE write and reduction of syllables not reflected either: ME stone ModE stone ME love ModE love Latinization: in the 16th century, attempts to make spellings reflect Latin or Greek etymologies: Greek etymologies:

add g: reign add b: debt add s: island (wrong etymology!) Loanwords: anonymous armadillo balcony bizarre brusque canoe caustic chaos cocoa epitome galleon gazette excrescence exhilarate genteel grotesque grotto harass intrigue moustache idiosyncrasy piazza potato pneumonia inclemency system vogue Amalgamation of different traditions: Anglo-Saxon, French, Classical