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Why is English spelling so mixed up, crazy and irregular?

There are 3,500 words in English that contain exceptions to the spelling ‘rules’. And some of the rules have hundreds of exceptions.
 
How did we get into this situation?
What happened historically that we spell ‘month’ and ‘mother’ with an ‘o’ instead of a ‘u’?
 
Answer
Have you ever been puzzled by why so many of our words end with a seemingly useless ‘e’ such as ‘have’ and ‘gone’?
 
Answer
Are you sometimes not sure if you should double a letter or not?
 
Why is that?
How long does it take an average English child to learn to spell well?
 
Answer
How long does it take an average Italian child to learn to spell well?
 
Answer
Why the difference?
 
Answer
Can spelling be modernised?
 
Tell me more.
What's the cost of having such a difficult spelling system?
 
The Cost.
Want to find out what is being DONE to end this madness?
 
What's being done.
Do YOU want to do something about it?
 
Yes!
So it's not you; it's the system.  But take heart!  Here's a list of 71 common tricky-to-spell words which will help you focus on memorising the ones most people are most likely to  misspell. Common misspellings.
© TSS. updated 2011.05.13    The English Spelling Society