SPELLING PRONUNCIATIONS IN EARLY MODERN ENGLISH

Increasing literacy in Early Modern English resulted in the introduction of a number of spelling pronunciations.

1. EME /t/ sometimes became /q/ in loanwords spelled with th.

2. Unpronounced ("silent") initial h in loadwords in general became EME /h/.

3. Unhistorical letters were introduced into the spelling of loanwords, on the basis of knowledge (or sometimes, false hypotheses) about the Latin roots of these words. These unhistorical letters then sometimes resulted in the addition of a consonant to the pronunciation of the word. A few examples:

i. The consonant /l/: ME faute "fault" /faut/, from Old French faute, in EME was spelled fault because of the Latin root fallita, and then became EME /fôlt/.

ii. The consonant /d/: ME aventure, spelled adventure in EME (Latin root advenio), became EME /ædventjur/.

iii. The consonant /k/: ME parfit, spelled perfect in EME (Latin root perfectum), became EME /perfIkt/.

iv. The consonant /z/ (spelled s): ME bapteme, spelled baptism in EME (Latin root baptisma), became EME /bæptIzm/.

[Note that sometimes the unhistorical letter, though remaining in the standard spelling of the word, did not result in a change of pronunciation. For example, ME vitaille /vitæil/, from Old French vitaille, in EME was spelled victual because of the Latin root victualia ("provisions"). But the word is still pronounced /vItl/ (though it usually occurs in the plural).]