The question Why did English take the "mix pronunciations and spellings" route instead of one rule route like French, or separate languages/dialects like Spanish? was closed as a duplicate of Why English pronunciation differs so much from written language, compared to German?.

The linked question is about where differences in English came from.

I asked why England then left it like that and didn't impose one set of rules or keep languages separate. A different, unanswered question.

It seemed like people just thought it was too much for then to answer, but why restrict others from trying?

Update 8/16/23: Once again, the question is closed for not being clear, though people clearly understood it. It's about history, why things ended up the way they are, with mixed pronunciations, rather than one, like French or Spanish.

  • "English" didn't take that route. Educators did. Your question isn't really about the language per se but about culture.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 10:55
  • However you wanna describe it, it turned out different than others for reasons, since other countries clearly had multiple influences also
    – user485570
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 11:17
  • English was a German dialect later influenced by Scandinavian Germanic dialects later influenced by late medieval French, a Romance dialect. It is a confluence of rivers of different colors.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 11:26
  • I know, that wasn't the question though. I keep repeating myself, but some people get it.
    – user485570
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 12:10
  • You can't impose rules on language. You can impose rules on spelling, but you still have the large "installed base" of texts to deal with when you want to change the spelling of a word because the extant spelling no longer reflects its pronunciation. You're putting those older texts out of reach. And language will keep on changing, so there would have to be spelling reform after spelling reform. There have been spelling reforms, so the situation was not simply left "as is".
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 12:14
  • However you wanna call it, France imposes rules, and Spain kept other languages separate. You're caught up on semantics, the question is over the actions taken or not. Which left english with different ways for saying 'ough', for example.
    – user485570
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 12:16
  • Those are Romance languages rather than a hybrid of German and French, as English is.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 12:18
  • There are other languages in Spain, and to a smaller scale France, and yet they don't have a mix of ways to say how something is written. France has German borrowed words from other languages also fyi, like german. You seem to be totally missing the point of the question. It's really not that complicated. English is not the only language with a mix of word origins, yet it keeps a mix.
    – user485570
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 12:21
  • It's not just loan words but an amalgamation at all levels. You seem to have an axe to grind. What do you want people to say, "England was remiss"?
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 12:22
  • Yeah, Spain didn't have an amalgamation, why was the different route taken? Look at Normandy, you know why they call it at? And yet there aren't words from there that are said differently in french. Why was it different than there also?
    – user485570
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 12:25
  • It's a question about history. I don't care about axes.
    – user485570
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 12:25
  • All languages have multiple origins. If you want to say that the influences were too close to evenly spread out for one to have the sole influence and impose pronunciation rules, that would be an answer.
    – user485570
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 12:34
  • In England, the third wave (French) was a language markedly different from the Scandinavian-influenced German that preceded it. It brought not only nouns but verbs with different complement-licensing patterns and morphology. Moreover, speakers of English in the northern parts of the country had a rather different pronunciation from that of those living in the south, and that difference accounts for some of the modern-day spelling artefacts.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 12:55
  • 2
    I have no clue what you mean by "keep languages separate". I don't think I need your help, except in explaining what you mean.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 17:10
  • 1
    @jsw29: I didn't even notice what site I was on. I wear bifocals and the address-bar and banner are a blur (since I'm reading through the lower lens and not tilting my head back). I saw the big English Language and Usage but not the tiny "meta".
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


The question has had its three votes to reopen.

  • It just got one to reclose. I suspect indefeasable ignorance. Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 17:11
  • 2
    @JohnLawler, you may have a good reason for closing the question, but it would be helpful to everybody if you stated your reason explicitly, rather than dismissing any possible disagreement with it as a manifestation of 'indefeasible ignorance'. The boilerplate reason that appears in the banner seems out of place; as the OP convincingly points out it is problematic to say that the question is unclear if a competent contributor to this site understood it well enough to answer it.
    – jsw29
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 20:53

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