Why is earth not spelled erth?

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Why is earth not spelled erth?

Post by sitaspell » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:37 am

Why is earth not spelled erth?
Why is heart not spelled hart?
Why is ear not spelled eer?
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Re: Why is earth not spelled erth?

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:06 pm

Take a look here.
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Re: Why is earth not spelled erth?

Post by Phil White » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:42 pm

In modern English spelling, vowel combinations regularly indicate that a vowel has shifted over time. In the case of "heart", for instance, the word was written as "herte" in Middle English, and probably pronounced with an "e" sound rather like the one we nowadays write as "ai", as in "hair". At some point, pronunciation changed to what we have today, possibly going through a diphthong phase. The spelling shifted to indicate this change.

Interestingly, much the same thing would have happened with the Middle English "hert" (meaning a "hart", or a male deer), but the spelling went a step further. It simply shows the arbitrariness of the evolution of English spelling.

As far as "ear" is concerned, it is a diphthong for most speakers, and the "a" represents the schwa sound for which we have no single letter in English.
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: Why is earth not spelled erth?

Post by tony h » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:23 pm

You may also be making an assumption that your pronunciations are the same as others.

You say tomatoes, I say tomatoes.
You say aluminium, I say aluminium.
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Signature: tony

With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

End of topic.
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