What is <e> doing in these words?!
Venezky (1999) discusses how the letter <e> often serves as a “marker” for a specific letter-sound pattern. "For example, <v> does not normally occur in final position in English; where it would, a final <e> has been added (e.g., have, love)." (p. 78)
Here are some of the patterns:
“After what would otherwise be a final <v> or <u>, an <e> is added. This practice developed during the Middle English period, partly because of the graphical identity of <u> and <v>. Examples include love, glue, have, plague, glove, and continue. “ (p. 86.)
<-ge> and <-ce>
The <e> is a marker for the “soft’ sound of the consonant. (age, fleece)
The <e> is a marker for the voiced sound of <th> (bathe)
The <e> is a marker for the marker for an /s/ sound as opposed to the /z/ sound (tense vs, tens)
Venezky, R. (1999) The American Way of Spelling: The Structure and Origin of American English Orthography.
Children of the Code interview with Dr. Richard Venezky - http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/venezky.htm