Why does the “eo” in people say the long sound of /e/ ?
I can’t give you a reference for this (sorry) but I think “people” was spelt “peeple” or “peple” in Middle English, but then those standardising spelling in the 1700s (Samuel Johnson et al) were keen to preserve etymology in spelling, and wanted to link the word “people” to its Latin origin “populus” (the Old English word was “folk”) so added a letter O. The O also links the spelling of “people” to related English words like population, popular and the modern media practice of vox popping (vox populi = voice of the people).
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