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why do the exist?
this is a serious question, not a gripe.
they're a bit pointless aren't they?
the make up new sounds with the letters around them
also people in the past couldn't spell for shit and we've not bothered changing things up very much
also don't forget our language is an amalgemation(sp?) of several other languages and some letters which are now silent were perhaps audible in the original language back in the day
what i don't get is pronunciation that sounds nothing like the spelling, eg lieutenant
lih ehh ooo
spellings started to become standardised in print. Before that people just spelled things they way they sounded. Sound changes (changes in the way folks pronounce words) occurred over the decades and centuries following the standardisation of spelling and the spellings as a result fell behind the new pronunciations, as they were now 'set in stone' in the new dictionaries and that. Plus, some renaissance types thought it'd be really clever to change spellings so that they looked more like the 'learned' Latin spellings. Like dette became debt. Latiny.
I have a linguistics exam on Tuesday, that's the only reason I know this stuff.