Why are there no words in the English language with 3 of the same vowels or consonants together (like “aaa” or “sss”)?

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Why are there no words in the English language with 3 of the same vowels or consonants together (like “aaa” or “sss”)?

In: 5

Because it gets a little confusing, so we break it up with a hyphen. See: bell-like, cross-section, and lee-end. But the OED just says it’s because of readability, not for any particular “reason.”

It’s because of efficiency or, if you like, laziness. An awful lot of changes in language stem from finding ways to make words and phrases easier to say or write or otherwise use. It takes effort to communicate ‘sss’ in a way that differentiates it from ‘ss’ and so if we can avoid doing so, we will. If we had two words that were the same except that where one ends in ‘aa’ and the other ends in ‘aaa’, you’d have to wait all the way until the end of the word to know what that person was talking about. If the next word started with ‘a’ or ‘aa’ then imagine how much vocal work the speaker would have to do to keep those sounds and words distinct. If we want to make things distinct, it’s an awful lot easier vocally and aurally to simply pick another sound or use a different letter.

Languages usually only ever count to two. There’s some *very unusual* cases of languages with three vowel lengths, but the vast majority of languages either have a box for ‘short vowel’ and a box for ‘long vowel’ or have no length distinction at all. The same is true of consonants, except I’ve never heard of a language with a three-way consonant length distinction.

English actually has no length distinction at all in either vowels or consonants, though (except in Australia). Written double vowel letters are a way to get at more vowel qualities, and written double consonant letters are mostly just treated as the same as single letters (or sometimes <s> is /z/ while <ss> is /s/).

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Why are there no words in the English language with 3 of the same vowels or consonants together (like “aaa” or “sss”)?

In: 5

Because it gets a little confusing, so we break it up with a hyphen. See: bell-like, cross-section, and lee-end. But the OED just says it’s because of readability, not for any particular “reason.”

It’s because of efficiency or, if you like, laziness. An awful lot of changes in language stem from finding ways to make words and phrases easier to say or write or otherwise use. It takes effort to communicate ‘sss’ in a way that differentiates it from ‘ss’ and so if we can avoid doing so, we will. If we had two words that were the same except that where one ends in ‘aa’ and the other ends in ‘aaa’, you’d have to wait all the way until the end of the word to know what that person was talking about. If the next word started with ‘a’ or ‘aa’ then imagine how much vocal work the speaker would have to do to keep those sounds and words distinct. If we want to make things distinct, it’s an awful lot easier vocally and aurally to simply pick another sound or use a different letter.

Languages usually only ever count to two. There’s some *very unusual* cases of languages with three vowel lengths, but the vast majority of languages either have a box for ‘short vowel’ and a box for ‘long vowel’ or have no length distinction at all. The same is true of consonants, except I’ve never heard of a language with a three-way consonant length distinction.

English actually has no length distinction at all in either vowels or consonants, though (except in Australia). Written double vowel letters are a way to get at more vowel qualities, and written double consonant letters are mostly just treated as the same as single letters (or sometimes <s> is /z/ while <ss> is /s/).