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Lament of the dypthong

Posted by Lotg on October 19, 2003

Yes yes, I know, I have know idea how to spell it. And because I can't spell it, I can't look it up. I've tried various possible spelling combinations, and also searched through Greek and Latin dictionaries, but to no avail.

I realised my problem when I was lamenting the loss of the dypthong??? to a friend, after my 10 year-old stepdaughter asked me why I spelt encyclopaedia the way I did. I explained that when I went to school the 'a' & 'e' were joined in such words as this and Aesop, Vitae, etc. etc. And that these are dypthongs. I also explained that 'ae' (stuck together of course) is pronounced differently to 'a' or 'e' on their own, but we've lost all that over time.

But it was then to my horror I realised, that while I grew up with the term I had no idea how to spell it. Nor did I know whether it was originally latin, greek or whatever?

So can someone please set me straight on this?

And I have to say, that while there are no longer practical reasons for such spelling, I'd really like them back. To me, words that use these 'dypthongs' look quite beautiful.

I can see the arguments for making the spelling of words more practical, but I often wish we could retain some romanticism in the spelling of words too. That's no doubt why I still refuse to drop the 'u' in colour, labour, etc and keep my 'r' before the 'e' in centre and theatre. And I wonder how long it will be before we lose the 'b' in 'doubt'.

I'm sure many current teachers would find my attachment to these now defunct or soon to be defunct words, tedious.