If English orthography does not code phonemes it seems odd that, for more than a thousand years, scribes, printers and teachers all behaved as if they were encoding or decoding phonemes. Scragg’s A History of English Spelling (Scragg 1974) shows that the most common motivation for changing English spelling was to make it more phonemic. Writers and printers continually strove to bring the orthography back into line with pronunciation, as the latter changed. When they failed reformers urged them to return to a more phonemic representation. For example, Richard Hodges’s The English Primrose, published in 1644, introduces his plea for a more phonemic spelling with the text, ‘If the trumpet give an uncertain sound who shall prepare himself to the battle?’
KeywordsTechnical Concept English Orthography English Spelling Initial Sound Linguistic Concept
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