Accounting for the final < e > of < love >


If the final single < e > of the spelling < love > were fulfilling a phonological function it could only be as a signal that the previous single-letter grapheme < o > is representing the so-called ‘long O’ (as it actually does in such spelling as < bone > and < hope >).

arrowThe final < e > of < love > is fulfilling no phonological function. It must, therefore, be conforming to an orthographic convention.

The final < v > convention

The word pronounced [ lᴧv ] has three phonemes / l • ᴧ • v /. When the appropriate graphemes are applied, the ‘raw’ phonological spelling is < luv >, but a phonological representation is not necessarily a complete spelling.


 The fact that a provisional spelling has a final < > alerts real spellers to the orthographic convention that no complete word of English origin may have final < ->; we write < -ve >.

So we write < luve >. Here are more spellings that conform to the convention that complete words are not complete if they have final < v >.

have      give      nerve      twelve      solve

ArrowBlDigression: Letters other than < v > that are not found finally

The convention of avoiding final < i > in complete English words is explained in Kit 1 Theme A. The letter < j >, historically an allograph of < i >, is also not found finally in a complete word.

The single-letter grapheme < u >, like the letter < v > of which it was an allograph until comparatively recently, does not occur finally in complete English words.

  • The letter u > occurs finally in just two complete English words, the pronouns < thou > and < you > where it is a component of the digraph < ou >.

The single-letter grapheme < a > is not found finally. The short form < a > of the indefinite article < a(n) > is an abbreviation; the < n > has fallen away rather than been added (it has the same root as < one > - the Old English word for “one” and the indefinite article were the same word, as they still are in French, Italian, Spanish, German and other languages.

When the letter a > is found finally in complete English words it is a component of the digraph < ea >.


Related Themes: Theme 1A, Theme To Come