Richard Wordingham wrote:

> I don't actually know of any dialects that preserve the *old*
> difference. However, if you look at the etymolgical notes, you will
> soon see that the difference between words spelt with -ai- (such as
> 'pail', 'bail', 'main' from OE pægel, OF bail, OE mægen or ON megenn,
> megn, megin) and those spelt -a_e (such as 'pale', 'bale', 'mane' from
> OF pal; OF pal(l)e; OE balu; MDu bale; OE manu). 'Bale' as in 'bale
> water out' is a rare example of confusion - it started as 'bail', but
> 'bale' appeared in the 17th century.

Cf. <mail> and <male>. Curious.
Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...