In 1990, Bill Bryson’s comprehensive book about the history of the English language, Mother Tongue was published. In it, Bryson analyses the origins and evolutions of the English language from its conception to the date of publication of the book. Throughout the book, he places emphasis on the mixed etymological origins of many words and phrases.
Bryson notes various spelling anomalies in the English language. Some include the use of gh as an f sound, for example in enough, or the use of silent letters, such as the s in aisle. Much of the reason for many of the obscure spellings occur due to archaic spellings from mixed cultural origins, for example debt‘s silent b, with origins in the Latin word debitum, or the French origins of the spelling of debonnaire. Continue reading