A silent letter is a letter that, in a particular word, does not correspond to any sound in the word's pronunciation.

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Why is “cupboard” pronounced with a silent “p”?

According to Google at least, the word "cupboard" originated in late Middle English as denoting a board that held cups. Since then, the word has evolved to mean a kind of cabinet. My question is, ...
51
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5answers
18k views

In the word “Scent”, is the S or the C silent?

So I saw a post on a funny pictures site... "In the word "Scent", is the S or the C silent?" And I thought I could ask about it here. In particular, how does the pronunciation of "scent" differ ...
0
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2answers
57 views

Adding “-ing” to a verb ending with a pronounced “e”

When a verb ends with a "e" that is pronounced, do you get rid of the "e" when you add "-ing"? For example, would you say "His karaoking last night was really unique", or "His karaokeing last night ...
3
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1answer
139 views

Algorithm to determine if an “e” in a word is silent

I'm working on a software that requires me to know if an "e" in a word is silent or not. I thought of using Artificial Intelligence and pattern recognition to determine if the "e" is silent. The AI ...
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3answers
323 views

Why are “some” letters silent in English? [closed]

There are many such words that we all know about, but please explain why the makers of the English language made up words with silent letters?
9
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2answers
372 views

Why doesn't the silent “e” work on “infinite”? [duplicate]

Why doesn't the silent "e" work on the word "infinite"? What I mean is, why does mate have a long "a", but infinite has a short "i"?
4
votes
2answers
281 views

If a letter isn't pronounced but affects pronunciation of other letters, is it still 'silent'?

The 'e' in paste isn't pronounced on its own, but changes the pronunciation of the 'a'. In that case, is the 'e' still referred to as silent?
8
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4answers
2k views

Pterodactyl and Archeopteryx: Silent P vs Voiced P

These words share the Greek root πτέρυξ (pteryx), meaning feather/wing, but the P in pterodactyl is silent (in the initial position), while the P in archeopteryx (in the middle of the word) is voiced. ...
13
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2answers
34k views

Why is the “L” silent when pronouncing “salmon”?

Why is the letter l silent when pronouncing salmon properly?
23
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4answers
1k views

Words with a leading silent w

My eldest is a beginning reader. Yesterday we read one of my favorite books, The Wreck of the Zephyr. He pointed at wreck and asked me why that one looked like it said "wuh-reck." I explained that ...
10
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3answers
678 views

is letter “y” derived from “ij”?

It is my intuition, that the origin of the letter y comes from ij based on the usage in Dutch where it very closely resembles ij in both sound and shape. I would go so far as to say it looks like a ...
0
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1answer
2k views

Why does a silent “-e” at the end of a word lengthen vowels?

There's a common pattern in English spelling where "short" vowels are pronounced as "long" vowels with the addition of a silent "e" at the end of the word. E.g. bit → bite mat → mate pet → pete ...
18
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2answers
459 views

Pronunciation of 'host' in Shakespeare's time

Listening to the recent film production of Macbeth with Patrick Stewart, I noticed that Duncan says: Give me your hand. Conduct me to mine host. Obviously, it's in the text (Act 1, Scene 6). ...
6
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1answer
2k views

Consonant transposition: Why is “Wednesday” pronounced “Wensday”?

It appears like a couple of consonant sounds have been transposed. How, why did that happen?
7
votes
4answers
993 views

How did the silent 't' come into all these 'tch' words?

I'm curious as to how so many words with the 'ch' sound have the silent 't' in them. Catch, itch, retch, hatchet, botch etc. The list is huge. They all have different origins, and yet they have the ...
12
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3answers
2k views

What does the grave accent mark on words mean?

What exactly does the grave accent mean in English? An example from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30: The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan
18
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3answers
2k views

Where did the “ue” in “tongue” come from?

How I remember being told over and over how to spell tongue! I didn't understand it then; I don't understand it now. What evolution might put a silent "ue" at the end of a word?
14
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4answers
21k views

Why is the 'w' silent in “sword”?

In RP English, the 'w' in "sword" is silent. Wiktionary suggests /sɔːd/ and /soʊrd/. Why? Are there other words like this? The 'w' is pronounced in words like "swollen", "swoop", "sworn" and "swore". ...
3
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4answers
458 views

Should I abbreviate word starting with “kn” as “K” or “N”?

Imagine you're abbreviating a title that has a kn-word in it (e.g. Should Know). What is the preferred way? Is it SK or SN?
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2answers
545 views

Is 'r' in Br/Amr pronunciation of Arjmand (Persian word) silent?

Is 'r' in Br/Amr pronunciation of 'Arjmand' (Persian word) silent? (In other words, how is this word pronounced in Br/Amr English?)
7
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4answers
10k views

Why does English spelling use silent letters?

Why have a letter in a word when it’s silent in pronunciation, like the b in debt? Can anyone please clarify my uncertainty here?
0
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2answers
2k views

Aspirated letters vs. Silent letters

How are aspirated letters different from silent letters when pronouncing a word?
57
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11answers
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When should I use “a” versus “an” in front of a word beginning with the letter h?

A basic grammar rule is to use an instead of a before a vowel sound. Given that historic is not pronounced with a silent h, I use “a historic”. Is this correct? What about heroic? Should be “It was a ...