Questions tagged [silent-letters]

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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"'A' HSBC branch" or "'An' HSBC branch"? [duplicate]

The general rule says 'a' should be used if the 'h' makes a sound, e.g., "a horse" vs "an hourglass", or (somewhat debated) the first syllable is not stressed, e.g., "an hotel&...
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6 votes
1 answer
171 views

What does the grapheme 'm̃' (m with a diacritical tilde) mean in English? Was it in use?

In a historical English book published in 1875, the grapheme 'm̃' (m with a diacritical tilde) is used in the title. Ye parish of Cam̃erwell : a brief account of the parish of Camberwell : its ...
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Should the first h in Nehemiah be silent? If so, why?

I hear many native speakers do not pronounce the first h in Nehemiah. However, I also found a video pronouncing this h. I am wondering about the correct pronunciation of Nehemiah in English. This ...
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Does the suffix -ify have any inherent characteristics of making letters pronounced which would otherwise be silent?

It is quite clear that the word "signify" is derived from sign and the suffix -ify: sign + -ify = signify The letter "g" in the word sign is silent but when the suffix is added, ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Why is the N silent in "solemn" but pronounced in "solemnity"

Solemn → /ˈsɒləm/: It has only /-m/ Solemnity → /səˈlɛmnɪti/: it has both /m/ and /n/ (/-mn-/) Looking up their etymology didn't help much. But here is what etymology dictionary says: solemn: ... ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Why is the P silent in "coup" and "corps"?

Corps = /kɔː(r)/: the PS is silent Coup = /kuː/: the P is silent Corps Etymology Dictionary says "from French corps d'armée (16c.), which apparently was picked up in English during Marlborough's ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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Silent /t/ usage on short words? [duplicate]

The censorship on Stackoverflow will kill the platform and it's elitist snakes will be haunted. Consider following words, Its At That What I often hear them as, I/?/s Aa Tha/?/ Wha/?/ I'm ...
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Is the second "t" silent in the word "twenty"? [duplicate]

I have always pronounced the word "twenty" as "twen·tee" and taught my daughter accordingly. But she told me that her pre-kindergarten teacher pronounced it as "twen·nee",...
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Why is the L silent in "walk" but not in "bulk"?

TL;DR Why is the letter L silent in walk, talk, calm, folk, half, chalk etc but not silent in bulk, hulk, milk, silk, bold, bald? Explanation of the question and Research: The letter L seems to be ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Why is there a ‘w’ in the word ‘Answer’? [closed]

This might sound silly. I understand ‘w’ is silent. But what purpose does ‘w’ serve? Why is it important to have ‘w’ in there? Why not just ‘Anser’ like it’s pronounced?
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What is the importance of silent letters in English language? [duplicate]

How did the usage of silent letters came into being? For example : what is the use of 'k' in knife or 'p' in pneumonia ?
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4 answers
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Why do we spell the word “who” with a silent “w” when it isn’t needed?

If we spelled who without the W – making it ho like with do and to — it could still make sense, so why is there a silent W in the word who?
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2 votes
1 answer
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Which word has a silent B at the start? [duplicate]

According to this Guardian article, about the book “P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever”, there is one word in the English language which starts with a silent B. Unfortunately, they don’...
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Silent-letter U in the word Vagueries [closed]

When pronouncing the word vagueries, is the U silent or pronounced as in the British pronunciation of jaguar? The context is the sentence ”The rebuttal was replete with so many vagueries as to be ...
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Is there a word spelled with a silent B at the start?

My dad and I were playing a game in the car where we picked a letter and then each alternated saying a word that started with that letter. We did it with b, for example, it might go: Dad: bath me:...
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31 votes
2 answers
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Is there an etymological explanation for the silent ‘g’ in “paradigm”?

Whenever I come across the word paradigm, I have to make a small conscious effort not to pronounce the letter ‘g’. In Italian, it is spelled paradigma and each letter is individually pronounced i.e. ...
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Use of silent letters and how to identify them? [closed]

While watching SpellBee on Discovery Channel I came to hear the word Malapropos which was just pronounced without the ending -s, ie. it was silent. The boy pronounced it correctly but missed the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Silent/linking 'r' before vowels in British English

Here is an example where r occurs before vowels: The shelter of your arms, Mother Earth I'm referring to this service for transcription. British transcription shows that none of them are silent: ...
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Why is it "argument" instead of "arguement"?

Why would you replace the <e> in argue before affixing <-ment>?
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Silent consonants in words like lawn, dawn [closed]

Is it w or wn?I have no idea,kindly help me out? What about in words like rogue,does ue or u count as silent consonants although they are clearly vowels?
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3 answers
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Why is the word "folks" pronounced [foʊks]?

Why is the word folks sound like it’s pronounced [foʊks] rather than [fɔɫks]? It’s as though people are thinking it’s spelled fokes.
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2 votes
1 answer
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Reason for silent letters before "n" [closed]

What is the reason, historical or otherwise, that many consonants are silent when they appear before "n". Examples: Gnome Pneumonia Mnemonic Knowledge
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3 votes
2 answers
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What are these silent H's in place names in England?

I went to England and heard people pronouncing place names weirdly. For example, Caterham was pronounced "K-ter-rum" or "K-trum" instead of "K-ter-ham" Selhurst was pronounced "SEL-lust" instead of "...
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Why is the plural form of piano "pianos" and not "pianoes"?

The rule says that if a singular noun ends in consonant + "o" then the plural form will be consonant + "oes". e.g. tomato => tomatoes. Then, why this rule does not apply to piano?
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Confusing 'r' sounds

In their kids song "Crazy ABCs", the Barenaked Ladies sing about words that start with confusing sounds: A is for aisle B is for bdellium C is for czar However, when the song gets to "r":...
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5 votes
1 answer
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pronouncing "l" as a vowel

I am a native English speaker with a British accent. When I say words like: lion, liver, below etc. - there is definite contact between my tongue and teeth/roof of the mouth. When I say words like: ...
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Is "ageing" the only exception?

have, having love, loving make, making take, taking give, giving hate, hating strive, striving Etc. When a verb in its lemmatic form ends with "-e" then its present participle omits that letter. ...
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7 votes
3 answers
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When did Magdalen return to England?

From Mary of Magdala, the female disciple of Jesus Christ cited in the New Testament, we have the names Magdalen and Magdalene. Oxford Dictionaries includes the archaic definitions of magdalen, a ...
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4 votes
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How did the "h" get in "gherkin"?

I've recently taken an interest in silent letters, and I discovered that the letter h in ghost was inserted by a faulty printer. On a search for similarly romantic etymologies, I ran into gherkin, ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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How did the "b" get in "debt"? [duplicate]

According to both my trusted sources (wiktionary and etymonline), the word debt ("something owed") traces to the Middle English word dette, which goes back to dett, from the French etymon dete. I was ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Silent /d/ or /t/

When a word ending with the /d/ or /t/ sound is pronounced and the next word starts with a consonant, the sounds /d/ or /t/ are silent. For example: I used to play tennis. My question is related to ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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History and Explanation of Scientific English Pronunciation Convention: PS, PN, PT

A research question on pronunciation I have been looking for the explanation and history of the English pronunciation convention of not pronouncing the P at the start of double consonant scientific ...
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Silent Letters In Words Containing Double Letters

I'm doing an exercise, which says find the silent letters in some words. one of them is "OFFICE" Does this word have 1 or 2 silent letters? The final 'E'     Or     final 'E' + one of 'F's Are double ...
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What was the historical pronunciation of the digraph <gh> like? [duplicate]

What was the historical pronunciation of the digraph <gh>, as in height, thought, thorough, laugh, enough, Edinburgh like?
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4 votes
6 answers
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Is there a term for the silent letters in a word?

Such letters are employed in spelling but are not pronounced, and English offers a wealth of examples more than any other language . most final "b's" preceded by "m" (dumb, climb, thumb, etc) most "k'...
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6 votes
3 answers
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Why is "Thailand" spelled with an 'h'?

As we all know, "Thailand" is not pronounced with a /θ/ — so why is it spelled that way? Is the 'h' vestigial? Does it represent some subtle phoneme in the Thai language, and if so, what is that ...
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Why isn't the ‘P’ in psychology pronounced? [duplicate]

Why is the initial letter of some of the words like pneumonia, and psychology not pronounced?
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75 votes
9 answers
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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). Y’all’dn’t’...
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2 answers
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What is the significance of having a silent letter like "k" in a word? [duplicate]

Why is the k silent in: known /nəʊn/; knife /nʌɪf/, and knight /nʌɪt/? What does this specify?And what is k doing there if there is no need to pronounce it?
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17 votes
4 answers
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Silent "e" at the end of words

Back in 2009, a job interviewer sent me a link to a web service that would help me make a free telephone call via the internet... Skype. As a native speaker, I knew "instinctively" to pronounce this "...
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2 votes
4 answers
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How to pronounce "Calm"? [closed]

I need to know how "Calm" is exactly pronounced (whether the L is silent or not). And I need a good reference as an evidence.
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2 votes
3 answers
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Missing sound: final skt letters

I've noticed that many Americans in movies usually omit letter k when it falls between s and t sounds at the end of any word like in asked, tasked, Can we generalize that as a rule, so the word ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Is it "a honor" or "an honor"? is h silent in this word in American English? [closed]

I read a tweet of President Obama: An honor to address the Coast Guard class of 2015. Confident they'll help us meet big challenges like climate change. Is h a silent letter in this word in ...
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What is the parenthetical plural of "baby"? [duplicate]

A letter home from daycare may be sensitive to the fact that some children have a single parent like this: Dear Parent(s), And if that same letter home wanted to be sensitive to the fact that I ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Is it "policy(ies)" or policy(s)" for an optional, parenthetical plural suffix? [duplicate]

When writing a noun that shows a parenthetical plural suffix option, which is acceptable, "policy(ies)" or policy(s)"?
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5 answers
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How do "you" pronounce eczema?

/ˈɛɡzɪmə/, /ˈɛksɪmə/, /ˈɛksmə/ As I no longer live in the UK I don't usually hear how eczema is pronounced, so I've always pronounced it as ig-zee-muh but recently my English boyfriend told me that ...
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39 votes
1 answer
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Is it "togglable" or "toggleable"?

The dialect is American English, but I'd be interested to know if this varies between dialects. Is it"togglable" or "toggleable"? Because neither dictionary.com, webster.com, nor Outlook's spelling ...
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2 votes
2 answers
757 views

Why are there some inert letters?

My original question was: why is ⟨g⟩ is silent in phlegm but not in its derivatives like phlegmatic? After a research, I was linked to the Silent letter wiki: Some are inert letters, which are ...
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1 answer
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What is the most "hardworking" letter in the English alphabet? [closed]

I hope I am not being pedantic; however, I could not come up with an answer on the internet. I wonder which is the letter which can be discriminated from the alphabet system on the basis of its ...
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1 vote
1 answer
626 views

The etymology of February

According to my dictionary, the word February originates directly from Middle English "Feverer" from Old French "Feverier" yet the Modern English word more closely resembles the original Latin ...
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