EXTRA LETTERS IN ENGLISH SPELLING

Vivian Cook  Spelling stats

Many English words gained an extra letter to suit reformers' ideas of their origins - amiral became admiral as it looked like a Latin word admir.. - often wrongly - the source is the Arabic word for prince amir. Sometimes the pronunciation followed the new spelling, as with admiral, sometimes it refused to change as with debt.

 

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Dates when extra letters became the norm in particular words

word

extra

letter

current
form first
dominant

pronunc-
iation
change

OED

ghostly

h

1495

N

=ghost

admiral

d

1520

Y

 

adventure

d

1525

Y

 

salmon

l

1535

N

<l> derived from  Latin

crumb

b

1540

N

added <b>

assault

l

1545

Y

 
island

s

1545

N

 

language

u

1545

?

 

perfect

c

1545

Y

remodelled after Latin perfectus

advantage

d

1550

Y

 

isle

s

1550

N

 

doubt

b

1555

N

 

ghost

h

1555

N

Caxton from Flemish gheest

fault

l

1560

Y

ex Latin

account

n?

1560

 

 

author

h

1565

Y

 

debt

b

1565

N

 

receipt

p

1565

N

 

falcon

l

1575

Y

ex Latin falco

victual

c

1580

Y

 

cauldron

l

1590

Y

imitation of Latin, gradually recognised in pronunciation

subtle

b

1590

N

 

advis/ce

d

1600

Y

 

climb

b

1600

N

restoration of original OE <b>

numb

b

1630

N

 

limb

b

1640

N

 

thumb

b

1645

N

ME excrescent <b> post 1290

lamb

b

1650

N

OE lamberu

rhyme

h

1670

N

 

bomb

b

1685

N

 

aghast

h

1695

N

Caxton 1483

corpse

p

1695

Y

 

dumb

b

1795 (G)

N

<b> from OE pronounced

aisle

s

1800 (G)

N

folk etymology with isle

ghoul

h

1850 (G)

N

from Arabic ghūl, 

indict

c

1905 (G)

N

unclear confusion with Latin

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CHRONOLOGY OF PERFECT

N: Perfect, 218131; parfyte 898; perfyte 1690

1474 perfect nombre

1477 parfyte age 

1478 parfyte X5

1480 perfyte blysse X2 parfyte blysse X2 perfecte nutryment X119

1480 perfyte reste parfyte age

1474 to 1500 perfyte 182  perfect 5 parfyte 172

1501-1550 perfyete 1165 perfect 956 parfyte 694

 

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