8o The Loom oj Language the course of a hundred years, while wilting lags behind for centuries This explains the behaviour of our capricious GH, which is usually silent and sometimes like an / It survives from a period when the pronunciation of light was more like the Scots hM> in which there is a rasping sound represented by x ID. phonetic symbols In such words the earlier English conventional GH stands for a sound which was once common in the Teutonic languages, and is still common in Ger- man When we meet GH, we know that the word in which it occurs is a word* of Teutonic origin, and it is a safe bet thai the equivalent German word will correspond closely to the Scots form. Thus the German for light is Licht^ for brought brachte, for eight acht> for night Nacht,, for right Recht and for might Macht, English is not the only language which has changed in this way At one time the German W, now pronounced like an English V, stood for a softer sound, more like ours So phonetic spelling would make it more difficult to recognise the meaning of Windy Wasser^ und Wetter (wind, water, and weather) A third way m which spelling gets out of step with speech i& con- nected with how grammar evolves Like other languages tn the same great Indo-European or Aryan family, English was once rich in endings like the '$ in father's Separate words have now taken over the function of such endings, as when we say of my father, instead of my father7s Having ceased to have any use, the endings have decayed, and because writing changes more slowly than speech, they have left behind in the written language, relics which have no existence in the spoken. This process of simplification, dealt with in Chapter III, has gone much further in English than in her sister languages On this account written English is particularly rich in vowel endings which are not audible This way in which pronunciation changes in the course of time is responsible for spelling anomalies m most European languages. Two English examples illustrate it forcibly. On paper there is a very simple rule which tells us how to form the plural (i e, the derivative we use when we speak of more than one object or person) of the overwhelming majority of modern English nouns We add -s* There is also a simple paper rule which usually tells us how to form the past form of most English verbs We add -#4> or ğd (if the dictionary form ends in ~<2), as when we make the change from part to parted, or love to loved* Nowa- days we rarely pronounce the final -ED unless it follows d or t. Till comparatively recently it was always audible as a separate syllable Sometimes we still pionounce it as such in poetic drama. If we are * Notable exceptions are haughty (French haut) and dehght.