English spelling origin (OT?)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 11 15:45:17 UTC 2002

Thom Harrison writes:
>The spellings mentioned above apply to English words, of course, and one
>must take into account the fact that about half the vocabulary of English is
>French.  The "i before e except after c" rule is a rule which works very
>well for French words like "receive" and "relieve," but not at all well for
>English words like "neighbor" and "weigh."
The version I remember from grade school goes

I before E
Except after C,
Or when sounded as A*
As in "neighbor" and "weigh"

This one has fewer exceptions, one of which is "weird", which was
explained by the fact that, after all, it is weird.


*Long "a", of course

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