Lucus Eques wrote:Could someone tell me why, exactly, every final '-v' in English is necessarily followed by the letter '-e'?
There are a number of English words (mostly of more recent vintage) that end in v, e.g.: shiv, Slav, rev, vav. The way your question was worded did not exclude borrowed words, but I will do my best to address the tendency of native English words not to end in V.
I hope that an Old English scholar will be able to elaborate on this for us, and I expect there are exceptions to this rule that I am about to put forth which have peculiar explanations. In OE, unlike in Modern English, the voiced and unvoiced pair which we would call respectively V and F were allophones, and both were represented by the letter F. When the letter F happened to be interconsonantal, it became voiced and produced a V sound. As far as I am aware, this is the only time the V sound would be produced in OE, and so that sound would naturally have to be followed by a vowel in its every occurrence. At some point thereafter, I would venture, a separate letter was produced to represent the letter V, but the following vowel still remained, and the spelling came down to us in this way.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae