read (reed) or read (red)

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by John99, Aug 31, 2009.

  1. John99 Banned Banned

    why are they spelled the same?


    Did you read it?

    Yes, I ____ it.

    Also, I still dont understand why we need to have the question mark. What is the point. It is obviously a question. What purpose does it serve. Seems to me it is just for decoration.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2009
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  3. John99 Banned Banned

    ah, ok. so you dont find it strange that those words are spelled exactly the same. and i have to put a question mark after an obvious question.
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  5. John99 Banned Banned

    i bet no one has an answer.
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  7. Enmos Registered Senior Member

    Correct. Does stuff like this often confuse you ?
  8. John99 Banned Banned

    doesnt confuse me at all. that isnt the issue.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Unlike Italian, Spanish, German, and many other languages, English spelling has never been reformed to conform more closely to modern pronunciation. The reason of course is that British and Americans don't pronounce words the same way, and even within the UK (and to a lesser extent within the USA) there are massive pronunciation differences between dialects. So it would be hopeless to devise a "standard" spelling system.

    Or as a person from Alabama would say, "Wah cain't wuy awl spail the pronaoon "Ah" the saym way?"

    Even in Spanish the standard fails. Latin Americans wonder why cocer (to cook) and coser (to sew) are spelled differently when they're pronounced the same. But in European Spanish soft C is pronounced as English TH.

    Our spelling is largely left over from the thirteenth century, when our words were pronounced completely differently. Long A was AH as in "father," long E was AY as in "say," long I was EE as in "beet."

    The written word "lead" also has two meanings and pronunciations.
    The origin of our punctuation marks is difficult to trace. But bear in mind that not all interrogative expressions are stated so clearly. "My car needs a $2,500 repair?" is not the same sentence as "My car needs a $2,500 repair."
  10. John99 Banned Banned

    thanks for taking the time to respond.

    i dont know what can replace one read with.

    an example:

    he is well read.

    you couldnt write 'he is well red'.

    but still read and read is a little odd.

    but that example looks more like a spoken word conversation as opposed to a written word one. where facial expressions and delivery are obvious.

    you can, and i believe it would be more fitting, add the qualifier 'did or 'does' to the beginning so then it would read - Did\does my car need(s) a $2,500 repair. (?)
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2009
  11. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    The Read/Read distinction is just a curiosity of spelling. In fact, English had a number of words that follow similar vowl shifts as you change form:

    Keep; kept
    Meet; met
    Feed; fed
    Lead; led

    even in other contexts there's

    thief; theft
    deep; depth
    clean; cleanse
    heal; health
    feed; food
    bleed; blood
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Many of these are what we call strong verbs in the Germanic languages. (Although those in this particular list, coincidentally, are not.)

    A weak verb forms the past tense by adding -D or -ED to the verb stem, and the past participle is identical to the past tense.

    wash, washed, washed
    care, cared, cared
    argue, argued, argued

    Some weak verbs are irregular, but they can still be identified by having only a single form for the past tense and past participle, which ends in D or a phonetic corruption of it like T. Your list falls into this category.

    make, made, made
    think, thought, thought,
    keep, kept, kept
    feel, felt, felt,
    lay, laid, laid
    lose, lost, lost
    leave, left, left
    lead, led, led (the D is already there)
    read, read, read
    work, wrought, wrought ("worked" is a modern alternative)

    A strong verb forms the past tense by umlauting the vowel in the verb stem, rather than adding a suffix. It forms the past participle by umlauting the vowel (often in a different way) and (almost always) adding -EN or a phonetic corruption. The key is that there is no -D added.

    eat, ate, eaten
    break, broke, broken
    fall, fell, fallen
    see, saw, seen
    write, wrote, written
    speak, spoke, spoken
    smite, smote, smitten
    rise, rose, risen
    lie, lay, lain
    beat, beat, beaten (no umlauting, a rarity)

    Some of the most common strong verbs lack the -N in their past participles, but they're easy to spot because of the missing -D and (usually) the umlauting:

    sing, sang, sung
    drink, drank, drunk
    come, came, come
    Umlauting is a powerful force in the Germanic languages and often serves as a form of inflection to change the domain of a word (thief the actor vs. theft the act) or simply to change one part of speech to another (blood the noun vs. bleed the verb).

    Notice that the inflection -TH is common for building a noun out of an adjective (or more rarely another noun or any part of speech): broad/breadth, long/length, hale/health, wide/width, weal/wealth, steal/stealth, and high/height (a corruption). Words that already end in TH just get umlauted: breathe/breath, bathe/bath, loathe/loth.

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