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When reading the King James Version of the Bible, we often hear, e.g., "maketh" pronounced in two syllables. Is this an accurate reflection of the pronunciation of that word when it was commonly used?

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Final /ks/ is much easier to pronounce than final /kθ/ or /kst/, so an epenthetic vowel seems likely for maketh and makest, where it's less so for makes. Not that makes might not have been epenthesized often, but it hasn't survived into Modern English. –  John Lawler Feb 19 at 18:55
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@John: Shakespeare seems to have pronounced makest with one syllable: "Yea, there thou makest me sad and makest me sin"; two syllables would spoil the iambic pentameter. But "maketh" seems to have had two. –  Peter Shor Feb 19 at 18:57
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Related (doesn't cover pronunciation): What happened to the “‑est” and “‑eth” verb suffixes in English? –  aedia λ Feb 19 at 18:59
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@John: Shakespeare was really good about not leaving out syllables in his iambic pentameter; but you're right, this may be just his particular dialect. And for some past tenses, he used both one- and two-syllable pronunciations, depending on which better fit the meter. –  Peter Shor Feb 19 at 19:00
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@PatrickM I think it means "third person singular". –  Brian J. Fink Mar 20 at 23:15

1 Answer 1

Words existed such as putteth, standeth, and goeth. To my mind, then, it seems reasonable to assume that the entire suffix was its own syllable, not included with the one that came before it, but pronounced distinctly, as "put-eth" or "stand-eth", for example.

One other note: the correct suffix is -eth, not -th as you have it in the title.

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