LINGUIST List 11.1642

Wed Jul 26 2000

Disc: Writing and Speech

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Michael Lewis, RE: 11.1623, Disc: Writing and Speech

Message 1: RE: 11.1623, Disc: Writing and Speech

Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2000 11:46:20 +1000
From: Michael Lewis <>
Subject: RE: 11.1623, Disc: Writing and Speech

Thanks to Prof Kaminski for a thoughtful and well-argued response to my
remarks in 11.1614 -- rather 'off-the-cuff' as they were. I should precede
my further response with a disclaimer: in Australia, the honorific "Prof."
is restricted to those of the rank of full or associate professor. Alas, I
can lay claim to no such label!

Prof. Kaminski is, of course, quite right to point out words with similar
spelling and different pronunciation (as evidenced in so many -ough words).
These are excellent examples of "spelling anomalies"; thus far, I stand

However, where I take issue with Prof. Kaminski is in his apparent
identification of English as "native Anglo-Saxon" augmented by imports and
exotic loan-words. First, Anglo-Saxon is itself something of a mongrel, and
contributes much to what I called the "rich and varied" parenthood (perhaps
I should have called it ancestry) of Modern English. Second, to suggest that
Norman French vocabulary is "borrowed" rather than "naturalized" is, I
think, questionable. (Surely beef and mutton are just as English as cow and
sheep?) I rather think that Prof. Kaminski and I are in disagreement on the
definition of parentage, rather than on historical fact.

I cannot claim sufficient knowledge of the dialects of German or Italian to
offer more than a supporting comment to Prof. Kaminski's remarks. The
Standard forms of both languages are, indeed, highly regular -- even
"phonetic" -- in orthography. I would be delighted to see any comments on
the development of these languages. The contrasting case of irregular
orthography in Irish Gaelic also warrants much more study. What of other
Gaelics -- Welsh and Scottish? My _very_ limited acquaintance with the
former suggests quite regular orthography; I would welcome enlightenment!

Equally cordially :-),
Michael Lewis

Department of Linguistics
Macquarie University
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