Questions about English consonants.

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66
votes
5answers
57k views

If the letter J is only 400–500 years old, was there a J sound that preceded the design of the letter?

I understand that the letter "J" is relatively new — perhaps 400–500 years old. But since there has long been important names that begin with J, such as Jesus, Joshua, Justinian, etc., and which ...
54
votes
4answers
8k views

Why are there so few English words that begin with the letter X?

If one reads a lot of children's books, it is obvious that X is a real thorn in the side for those authors looking to have each letter of the alphabet represented in their books. Most of them either ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

/ð/ → /d/ shift in English

As a result of a /d/ → /ð/ shift, fæder became father, hider became hither and togædere became together, giving us our modern English forms. However, I know that murder and burden have archaic forms- ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Palatalization of the initial “s” in words starting with “st-”

Sometimes I hear native speakers pronounce the s at the beginning of a word as [ʃ]. For example, straight as [ʃtreɪt], or struggle as [ʃtrʌɡl]. It sounds like German words. Is it a certain English ...
15
votes
3answers
35k views

Why is the plural form of “life” “lives”, while the plural form of “still life” is “still lifes”?

Why does the plural form of "life" is "lives", while the plural form of "still life" is "still lifes"? From Wikipedia: A still life (plural still lifes) is a work of art depicting mostly ...
4
votes
2answers
97 views

Why is there a double “ll” in “bell”?

I am trying to understand some of the idiosyncrasies of the English language. One is the use of double consonants. Why does the word bell have two letter L?
62
votes
9answers
9k views

How is y’all’dn’t’ve pronounced

According to Wikipedia, y’all’dn’t’ve is a valid contraction. I am having difficulty pronouncing the L-D-N-T-V consonant cluster, especially since there is no vowel at the end (silent E). ...
32
votes
6answers
24k views

“Extensible” vs. “extendible”

Where does the adjective form extensible come from and does it connote anything different than extendible? What's the difference, if any, between the two?
3
votes
3answers
3k views

th followed by an s sound [duplicate]

What is the correct way to pronounce such complicated combination of sounds when not pausing for breath? As an example, how would one pronounce something like "The Eighteenth century"?
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Usage of sound /ʒ/ in English (not /dʒ/) [closed]

I'm trying to explain to an English speaker how to pronounce the letter j in French, and was looking for cases where it appears in English. It seems that j is almost always pronounced /dʒ/. Examples ...
7
votes
2answers
531 views

Are there names for consonant-shifts when suffixes are added?

I saw a spelling mistake on an SO question: submittion. That got me wondering, is there a name for the shift of ‑mit‑ to ‑miss‑ in submission, permission, admission and so on? Are there other patterns ...
4
votes
3answers
498 views

What were the British equivalents of Webster's dictionary and the Simplified Spelling Board that standardized spelling and usage?

I am familiar with questions about when to double 'l' and differences between British and American spellings. However, I stumbled across this image. As you can see, several words end in the double ...
1
vote
1answer
897 views

TH sound, is it continuant or stop?

How do you all pronounce the TH sound when speaking fast? For example, I've learned to pronounce the TH sound like a continuant sound, for example the hard one: ð. I start doing a Z, so this Z go ...
0
votes
3answers
1k views

How do I pronounce “wrong” correctly instead of “long”?

When I say "wrong" people always mishear as "long". Pronouncing "r" and "l" correctly is always a big challenge for me. In Chinese we also have a syllable pronounced like "r" and a syllable pronounced ...