The Great Vowel Shift

My mother was Italian and had trouble understanding why English spelling and pronunciation was so inconsistent compared to a straightforward language like Italian. For instance, she would pronounce the phrase “good food” with “food” rhyming with “good” (logical enough).
In part, the explanation for the inconsistent pronunciation probably lies in the Great Vowel Shift which occurred around the 15th century. But why did this shift occur? We don’t know – but it might have been a consequence of the Black Death.

One Comment

  • Janet

    Melvyn Bragg’s excellent book “The Adventure of English:The biography of a language” covers such stuff as this, along with a lot more on the effects on the language of colonisation and Empire, as well as more recent developments.