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I was recently told as part of my THRASS (phonics program for primary schools) training that in words ending in -le such as able, crumple, candle etc that the letter l functions as a vowel with the schwa sound and the letter e functions as a consonant with the "L" sound. This seems counter-intuitive to me and I was wondering if it could be better explained by word origins?

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  • The pronunciation is /ˈeɪb(ə)l/. You can see that the positional correspondence from letters in 'able' to phonemes in /ˈeɪb(ə)l/ is 'a'→/eɪ/, 'b'→/b/, 'l'→/(ə)/, and 'e'→/l/. The word 'able' comes from Old French 'hable'. – mama Feb 1 '19 at 1:30
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    The letters don't represent contrary sounds though. In the case of able, the spelling has drifted away from the phonetics. It's an error to say that the l functions as a vowel and the e functions as a consonant. Instead it's a kind of metathesis - the l and the schwa vowel switch position to form a syllable, a shift the spelling doesn't reflect. – TaliesinMerlin Feb 1 '19 at 1:43
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    There's just a schwa before the consonant l and the terminal e is silent. And no, nothing has changed its pronunciation or position. Also @TaliesinMerlin – Kris Feb 1 '19 at 8:34
  • Hi @mama see my comment above. – Kris Feb 1 '19 at 8:35

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