Letter: Great Vowel Shift

A working life spent in studying and teaching the history of English has not made me immune to wincing, as John Henderson does (Letters, 30 March), at the intrusive “r” in “cawring” and the like.

However, it made me wearily familiar with the habit among linguistic amateurs of blaming every idiosyncrasy in the language on the Great Vowel Shift. The Great Vowel Shift affected pronunciation, not spelling; and neither the “ea” digraph in “bread” nor the silent “gh” in “thought” shows its effect in any way whatever.

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Derrick McClure

Rosehill Terrace

Aberdeen