If you’ve ever tried to teach a child to read, you will understand how difficult the English language is.
I can read that: C-A-T. That’s cat! D-O-G – that’s dog! I can spell egg: it’s E-G!
Actually, dear, egg has two g’s.
Well, it’s a bit of an exception.
Well, I can spell castle: K-A-S-U-L!
Actually, dear, it’s C-A-S-T-L-E.
Well, that’s a bit of an exception, too.
Soon, your reply sounds pretty poor and finally you explain that the English language is just strange; that there are lots of words with weird spellings. You will just have to learn them as you come across them. Thank goodness for primary school teachers who have far more knowledge and strategies up their sleeves for the blossoming four year old reader.
Of course, there is another explanation for the spelling of egg and, although it might bamboozle your four year old, it might be worth a try for the sake of trying to offer well-rounded parenting.
Egg – History
Many, many centuries ago, was the age of Old English—a language which derives from Anglo-Saxon settlers of the 5th century. They brought their language with them from the Continent and with it the word æg or, ‘egg’. When the Vikings came over to Britain in the 9th century they raided coastlines but eventually settled in the North of England and ruled according to Dane Law. Their language of Old Norse included the word ‘egg’ and, just like a politician that has been splatted by a protester, the word stuck.
The Old Norse version of egg didn’t start to appear in English print until the latter half of the 14th century but the spelling didn’t settle until somewhere around the onset of the 16th century, which is a common theme in the English language—the Elizabethan era was one which saw the standardization of grammar and spelling. Up until that point, variations for the term ‘eggs’ included: edderes, eyren and eron.
Since the Elizabethan era the egg has been truly versatile not only in the arena of food (omelettes, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs & soldiers, eggs benedict), but also because of its use in the English language.
There was Shakespeare’s use of the word to convey contempt to a young person, “What you Egge? Yong fry of Treachery” (Macbeth); there was wartime slang for which bombs and mines were known as eggs. Then we had a bad egg, who was a schemer, and a good egg, who was someone to be admired. Finally, the egg turns up in all sort of proverbial phrases: “as sure as eggs is eggs”; “teach your grandmother to suck eggs”; “to put all one’s eggs in one basket”.
So here is the real explanation for the weird spelling of egg, and now it’s time to go and find an answer for Castle.