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My kiddo asked today why the “a” in the word “strange” is long. (His first attempt was str-ang-e.) Can anyone help me with an explanation?  I’ve already looked in the dictionary, and it gave the etymology as [Middle English “straunge” < Old French “estrange” < Latin “extraneus.....]
 

Is this just a exception/twist on being  a CVCe word?  

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2 minutes ago, domestic_engineer said:

My kiddo asked today why the “a” in the word “strange” is long. (His first attempt was str-ang-e.) Can anyone help me with an explanation?  I’ve already looked in the dictionary, and it gave the etymology as [Middle English “straunge” < Old French “estrange” < Latin “extraneus.....]
 

Is this just a exception/twist on being  a CVCe word?  

That's probably what I would say to my kiddo, not knowing for sure. I would tell her I am not completely sure, but that possibly the n and g are kind of together for the ending sound, and the silent 3 is still making the vowel long. I have no trouble telling my kids good question, I don't know the answer 😛 

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14 minutes ago, 2_girls_mommy said:

That's probably what I would say to my kiddo, not knowing for sure. I would tell her I am not completely sure, but that possibly the n and g are kind of together for the ending sound, and the silent 3 is still making the vowel long. I have no trouble telling my kids good question, I don't know the answer 😛 

😁yeah - that’s exactly what I said. And I then I promised him I’d look into it; so here I am!

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Love this question.

Interesting that the middle English was "straunge," which would've been the same vowel sound as the French. This is just a weird incoherent guess, but maybe the pronunciation evolved in order to differentiate the English from the French?

 

Today, British English pronounces a lot of French-origin words oddly. They put the emphasis very markedly on the first syllable of the word,  like, GA-rage for garage, or BE-rry for beret, or  CAFF-fay for cafe. In French the emphasis naturally falls on the last syllable of a word, so the British pronunciation of those borrowed words is very distinctive.

Sorry that is a total ramble but I wonder if somehow it's connected! Also, grange has a long A and also comes from French. 

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Ha!  I found the answer finally on pg. 133-134 of  Bishop’s The ABCs and All Their Tricks ... 

Quote

A J sound at the end causes one additional problem in English, in the words that rhyme with change.  By all logic of the English spelling system, the N in change should make the vowel short, just like the N's in hinge and plunge.  But this is a problem that has no good solution.  Using a letter team for the Long A sound ought to do the rick.  But the only letter teams we have for long A within the root are AI and EI.  Spelling change with one of these would make it look like "chainge," or "cheinge."  Either of these solutions makes the word look as though it had the suffix -ing buried within it.  This is too confusing to be practical.  Therefore, we have to be satisfied with the letter group ANGE for these words.  There is quite a group of words where -ang- indicates long A, both in one-syllable words and in longer forms, as in range, strange, danger, angel, changing, mangy

 

 In other words:   We didn't like the possible solution, thus there’s no good reason.  😂

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I was totally off before. But anyhow now I've learned something...

https://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/vowels.html

Beginning in the middle ages, there was a total shift in the way English speakers pronounced their vowels, but the spelling of words generally stayed the same. The a sound went from "au" to "ay," roughly.

So words like "strange" or "change" or "manger" were originally pronounced "chaunge" or "maunger," but by the early modern period shifted to a long a sound. The spelling stayed the same.

they explained it well here too:

https://www.readingrockets.org/article/six-syllable-types

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Other tidbits of random info I found when I was looking for an answer:  

1.  The technical term for the forward slash symbol is called a virgule. 
2.  The name for the diacritical mark denoting a short vowel sound is called a breve (and of course, you pronounce the word with a long E sound. Haha)

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13 hours ago, Little Green Leaves said:

I was totally off before. But anyhow now I've learned something...

https://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/vowels.html

Beginning in the middle ages, there was a total shift in the way English speakers pronounced their vowels, but the spelling of words generally stayed the same. The a sound went from "au" to "ay," roughly.

So words like "strange" or "change" or "manger" were originally pronounced "chaunge" or "maunger," but by the early modern period shifted to a long a sound. The spelling stayed the same.

they explained it well here too:

https://www.readingrockets.org/article/six-syllable-types

I never explain English spelling "rules" (yes, that needs to be in quotes) with things like 'silent e' or 'vowel teams'.  English is a hodgepodge of words from a whole lot of different languages, and unlike other languages with borrowed words, many of them have retained spelling - or perhaps more infuriatingly some, but not all, of the spelling - but not pronunciation - from the language it was borrowed from  Most weird spellings (or weird spelling patterns) are best explained through etymology, and yes, sound shifts over time.  There's a reason that in the Spelling Bee the contestants are always asking the origin of the words given.  It almost always gives a hint to spelling.

Edited by Matryoshka
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14 hours ago, domestic_engineer said:

Ha!  I found the answer finally on pg. 133-134 of  Bishop’s The ABCs and All Their Tricks ... 

 

 In other words:   We didn't like the possible solution, thus there’s no good reason.  😂

Same book, p. 67 2. b. -ange is listed along with -aste as making the long A sound.

Which isn't really a reason, more of a rule, probably because of the hassle you linked in the "g" pages.

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30 minutes ago, Violet Crown said:

It's called the Great Vowel Shift.

Thank you! This is so interesting.

The theories about WHY this happened are fascinating too -- 

"An opposing theory states that the wars with France and general anti-French sentiments caused hypercorrection deliberately to make English sound less like French.

 

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25 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

I never explain English spelling "rules" (yes, that needs to be in quotes) with things like 'silent e' or 'vowel teams'.  English is a hodgepodge of words from a whole lot of different languages, and unlike other languages with borrowed words, many of them have retained spelling - or perhaps more infuriatingly some, but not all, of the spelling - but not pronunciation - from the language it was borrowed from  Most weird spellings (or weird spelling patterns) are best explained through etymology, and yes, sound shifts over time.  There's a reason that in the Spelling Bee the contestants are always asking the origin of the words given.  It almost always gives a hint to spelling.

I love that spelling is also a record of history. 

I had always assumed that spelling bee contestants were just stalling for time when they asked for word origins! This makes so much more sense.

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1 hour ago, Little Green Leaves said:

"An opposing theory states that the wars with France and general anti-French sentiments caused hypercorrection deliberately to make English sound less like French.

I've heard that this was the reason for Americans, post-Independence, deliberately recovering a more French pronunciation of recent loan words than was standard in English at the time: filet, ballet, beret, valet, herb, etc.

Edited by Violet Crown
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