Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 2 months ago

what's the purpose of the letter "q" in the English language when it's pronounced the same as "k"?

You can spell "quest" as "kwest" or even "cuest" and it is still pronounced identically.

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  • Brisco
    Lv 4
    2 months ago

    "qu" is common in French & Latin.  English absorbed many words from French, which derives from Latin.  French used to be the language of England until the 15th century.  English was also influenced by Norse, which is where the "kn" & "th"combinations come from (knife, knight, them, their).  So there's a reason why this letter combination exists in English. That's also why English has such a large vocabulary.  English actually lost about 6-10 letters from its pre-modern alphabet.

    • Lv 4
      2 months agoReport

      good answer; also, for many words the pronunciations maynot be identical 

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  • Pontus
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    The alphabet English uses is the Roman alphabet, designed for their language, Latin.

    The Romans, however, adapted it from the Etruscans, who used Q & V to represent the /kw/ blend. Romans kept that usage.  

    (The Etruscans developed their alphabet from the Greeks, making significant changes to it). 

    In Latin, the letters Q, C, & K were used to represent both the /k/ & /g/ sounds, not differentiating them in writing.  Q was used for /k/ or /g/ before a rounded vowel, K for either sound before /a/, and C for either sound in all other cases. 

    English adapted the late Latin alphabet for its use, often keeping the same spelling (a ton of English words came into English from Old French - which evolved from Latin, or from Latin itself). 

    You are correct, Q is not needed.  Neither is C, since K or S could be used instead for the sounds it usually represents.  However, CH is useful for represent the "TCH" sound.  Note, though, that CH also represents a /k/ sound, in words that originally came from Greek. 

    The English version of the alphabet as a whole is a hot mess.  26 letters represent about 45 different sounds (depending on the specific dialect of English being used).  

    Some sounds don't have a dedicated letter of their own.  Examples:

    the TCH sound.

    the schwa (the unaccented vowel used in words like:  A of about, E of listen, I of pencil, O of button, U of supply, and not written at all in rhythm (where the schwa comes between the TH & M)

    the two TH sounds (thought, this)

    the SH sound

    among others.

    However, English is spoken in many different countries.  Nobody has the authority to make a spelling reform and enforce it on all other English speaking populations.  It's unlikely that a reform will take place in any near future. 

    Bottom line: the alphabet we used started as an abjad (no letters for vowels) for the ancient Phoenician language.  The Greeks changed the shapes of the letters, added ones for vowels, and changed from a right-to-left script to a left-to-right scripts.  The Etruscans made further changes to letters and their use.  The Romans made a few more (but less drastic).  English uses the same 26 letters that eventually existed in Late Latin but often very differently from their original uses. 

    Our alphabet was not designed for English (or for most of the languages that contributed to its development). 

    Source(s): studied linguistics and the history of scripts and languages; taught French; intermediate Italian & German (all of which use different versions of the Roman alphabet) and intermediate Japanese.
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  • Bill
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    for an american , it would be hard to understand that the english language is very difinative in the meaning of each word. That is why they cannot spell correctly or even pronounce the words correctly

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    • Bill
      Lv 6
      2 months agoReport

      hey remember , I am typing on a microsoft made in america keyboard and running a win 7 os. You cannot eliminate all of the typos using that equipment

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  • 2 months ago

    That may be the case today, but English has been developing for 1400 years and is vastly different than it was originally. Maybe there was some difference in the past.

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  • 2 months ago

    The pronunciation and accent

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