FYI: linguistics in the news: case of the missing "t"

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Thu Nov 5 23:27:15 UTC 2009

>To what extent were these final "e"s really used in "Olde" English

They were often added, in the Middle English and Early Modern English
periods, silently and unetymologically for practical reasons: when
documents were hand-copied, scribes were often paid by the letter,
and when text went into type, extra letters were sometimes added to
even out lines. This was mainly the silent e's on the model of
etymologically based silent e's, and doubled letters as well. Some of
it stuck, but that which did was to a large extent weeded out in the
19th century.

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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