Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Graphemes w, y, i, u and a

In spelling, w and y occur at the end of words if they are part of digraphs: ew, ey, ow, oy, aw, ay. In the middle, w and y are replaced with u and i respectively.

new vs neutral
joy vs poison
borrow vs Houghton
whey vs heinous
saw vs caught
hay vs. rain

Foreigners, esp the specialists from India and other places, really screw up the spelling with their additions of y and w in the middle of words. cf. Peshawar, Pakistan; Priyanka, etc.

Some exceptions have to do with U/V confusion in MidE.  Most of them are of Franco-latin origin.
cf. pawn, pewter, powder, lawn, jewel, flower
cf. bayou, bayonet, buoyant, foyer, mayonnaise, royal, voyage
cf. lawyer, sawyer from old French -ier
cf. mayor, pray#er the former is an innovation

Here, we need to distinguish three cases.

V+w/y+C: this is part of this post
V+w/y+V: this can be part of sonorant gemination and degemination.
V+V+V: this is interesting case as well.

-ious: serious
-eous: courageous
-uous: vacuous
wVV = uVV cf. squeak
ooe: hooey, gooey, phooey vs snowy, screwy

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