“This movement towards systematizing language obviously called for spelling rules. And this forced the question, Would French have phonetic or etymological spelling? In some modern languages today, such as Spanish and Arabic, spellings are phonetic. English and French are both notable for having maintained etymological spellings (that is, based on historic forms of the words)…. In some cases spellings conform to sounds; in others they reflect the history of the word…. English speakers like to see the history of the word in its spelling. This is why French spellings, like English spellings, make little sense.”
The Story of French, Nadeau and Barlow, p. 55.