Do you have a spelling question? Ask Missus B.


"Why does I have a capital letter in the middle of a sentence?

Great Question. After all, me does not have a capital letter and so why should I? There is a reason.

For four hundred years Britain was ruled by Romans and then Germans took over. English began then, as a German language, and everyone said ic, not I. Germans still do, but in England ic shortened to just i. (Back then it rhymed with me.) Little i was hard to see, almost invisible amongst all the other words. In fact, it was very hard to see because until six hundred years ago i had no dot on top! So it was written as a capital letter to make it stand out. Later on (about five hundred years ago) the English stopped saying it to rhyme with me and started saying it to rhyme with eye.

I hope the kids in Haus Picanini send me spelling questions. I wish I knew this stuff when my kids were growing up in Wau. English spelling is much harder than Pisin or German or Italian or French or Vietnamese. It’s easier when you know the reasons. Interesting, too. Each time Britain was invaded the language changed and the spelling changed. Romans, Germans, Vikings and French - they all invaded and conquered Britain. Then after all that, the English themselves changed their language. That was when I stopped rhyming with me. They changed all their long vowel sounds but they did not change their spelling! No wonder English spelling is so tricky. Every word has an exciting story behind it. You only have to ask.

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