Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Netiquette IQ Blog Of (/10/17 - Silent Letters In English


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Updated September 28, 2017 From thoughtco.com

In English pronunciation, silent letter is an informal term for a letter of the alphabet (or a letter combination) that's usually left unpronounced, such as the b in subtle, the c in scissors, the g in design, the t in listen, and the gh in thought. Also called a dummy letter.
According to Ursula Dubosarsky, roughly "60 percent of words in English have a silent letter in them" (The Word Snoop, 2009).
Examples and Observations
  • The letter combination gh is silent in the following words: bought, caught, dough, eight, flight, high, right, sleigh, sigh, taught, thought.
  • Different Kinds of Silent Letters
    Edward Carney, author of A Survey of English Spelling [see below; revised 2012], distinguishes two kinds of silent letters: auxiliary and dummy.
    "Auxiliary letters are part of a group of letters that spell a sound that does not have a usual single letter to represent it. For example,
/th/ thing
/th/ there
/sh/ share
/zh/ treasure
/ng/ song
Dummy letters have two subgroups: inert letters and empty letters. Inert letters are letters that in a given word segment are sometimes heard and sometimes not heard. For example,
resign (g is not heard)
resignation (g is heard)
malign (g is not heard)
malignant (g is heard)
Empty letters are letters that do not have a function like auxiliary letters or inert letters. The letter u in the word gauge is empty. Here are some examples of silent consonants:
Silent b: dumb, thumb
Silent c: indict
Silent ch: yacht
Silent d: bridge, ledge, edge
Silent g: foreign, sign, design, assign
Silent h: rhinoceros, spaghetti
Silent k: knee, knit, knob, know, knuckle
Silent l: calf, talk, could, should, would
Silent m: mnemonic
Silent n: autumn, column
Silent p: raspberry, receipt
Silent t: castle, listen, whistle
Silent w: answer, wrap, wreath, wreck, wring, wrong, write
"There are no rules that we can apply to words with empty letters[;] you just have to use them and remember their spelling."
(Jeffrey Strausser and José Paniza, Painless English for Speakers of Other Languages. Barron's, 2007)
  • Silent Consonants
    "Silent consonant letters constitute one of the problem areas in respect to pronunciation of English words. To solve some of the problems of the learners, a few spelling sequences containing silent letters are discussed below:
(i) b is always silent in the spelling sequences mb and bt occurring in the word-final position: comb, numb, bomb, limb, debt . . ..

(ii) d is always silent in the spelling sequence dj: adjective, adjunct, adjacent . . ..

(iii) g is silent in the spelling sequence gm or gn: phlegm, gnarl, champagne, sign, gnat, gnaw . . ..

(iv) h is silent in the spelling sequence gh and in the word-final position: ghost, ghetto, aghast, ghastly, ah, eh, oh.

(v) k is always silent in the word-initial spelling sequence kn: kneel, knee, knob, knight, knave, knowledge, knife, knock."
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