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Thread: When double consonants don't match in English and in French

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    Post When double consonants don't match in English and in French



    One of the most painful aspects of learning to spell correctly when learning a French or English is to know when to use double consonants. This is all the more irritating when learning both languages, because for unknown reasons French and English linguists have decided to use practically the opposite spelling convention for doubling consonants. For example, the very word consonant is spelled with two n's in French: consonnes.

    The majority of consonant doubling are the same in French and English (e.g. arrange/arranger, different/différent, pollution/pollution). Although the French are fonder of double consonants, there are also quite a few cases in which only English uses the double consonant. So there is no easy way to guess when in doubt.

    It is easier in Spanish, a language that does not use double consonants (except sometimes for r), or in Italian, where double consonants are clearly pronounced and do not lead to confusion when one can speak properly.

    Here is a list of common examples, which I hope to extend little by little. I have added a third column with the Latin root of these words to see which language has become the most corrupted. I'd like to introduce the genetic concept of mutation to languages, so as to determine which language is the most mutagenic. I intend to make a similar comparison between French and English for the corruption in original meaning.

    English
    French
    Latin
    Address Adresse from addirectiare
    Committee Comité from committere
    Consonant Consonne consonantem
    Development Développement (unknown origin)
    Exceptional Exceptionnel ?
    Envelope Enveloppe (unknown origin)
    Honor Honneur honorem
    Irritate Iriter irritare
    Literature Litératture literatura/litteratura
    Manner Manière manaria
    Millennium Millénaire millennium
    Millionaire Millionnaire ?
    Panel Panneau pannellus
    Personality Personnalité personalitatem
    Rational Rationnel rationalis
    Traffic Trafic from Italian traffico


    You will notice that whenever a word originated in Latin, English consistently keeps the same spelling, while French added or removed a consonant. The only exception is literature, which had both spellings in Latin.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 07-02-17 at 10:40.
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