Silent letters!!!!!!!!Why?????

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Miss. Ladybird
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Silent letters!!!!!!!!Why?????

Post by Miss. Ladybird » Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:56 pm

Words like: Listen – knife – write – night -have silent letters, but why do we use them in English if we don't read them :?:
Any idea? :roll:

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Post by Dixie » Tue Mar 22, 2005 8:05 pm

In words beginning with kn, like knife, kneel, knock or know, the initial k used to be pronounced many centuries ago. The sound has been lost nowadays and we do not pronounce it, but we kept the spelling.

The sound gh is not pronounced in the middle of some words, like eight (pronounced like ate) or night.

That's pretty much all I can remember about my Old English classes regarding your question, Miss. Ladybird :roll: I'm sorry I cannot add more light into this question, but I will do some research. I know some other members will help us, too.

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Post by Dixie » Tue Mar 22, 2005 8:45 pm

OK my research is giving its fruit :mrgreen:

Regarding the KN- spelling at the beginning of a word

The simple answer to this question is that there's always been a k at the beginning of the word, so let me restructure your question to: "why is the 'k' at the beginning of 'knife' silent?"

There is a respectable list of words in Modern English that begin with a written kn- but are pronounced with only an initial n- sound, including your knife as well as knave, knead, knee, knell, knight, knit, knock, knot, know, knuckle, and others.

All of these words stem from Old English forms beginning with cn- (the orthographic change from c to k, which began with the influence of Norman French spelling, is outside the scope of our current discussion), and at the time all were pronounced with an initial k sound before the n. These words were common to the Germanic languages, most of which still pronounce the initial k. Thus, for example, the Old English ancestor of knee was cnéo, pronounced "K'NAY-oh," and the cognate word in Modern German is Knie, pronounced "k'nee."

English dropped the k- sound relatively recently--the change seems to have taken place in educated English during the seventeenth century, meaning that Shakespeare would have pronounced the k- in these words. There were apparently some intermediate pronunciations, with the inital cluster becoming hn- or tn-. The k- remained longer in certain dialects, and some Scots dialects still pronounce it. The relative lateness of the sound change is one reason why the k- is still preserved in writing.

The main reason for the loss of the k- sound is that the kn- cluster is difficult to pronounce. There is no easy explanation for why kn- is too difficult to pronounce in English, but fine for German, Swedish, Dutch, etc., but that's the way these things often work.

:arrow: :arrow: :arrow: I quoted this from http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.p ... e=19980514

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Post by Dixie » Tue Mar 22, 2005 8:49 pm

;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)

Here are three reasons why English has so many silent letters:

Old English was 90% phonemic (words sound the same as they look). But from the beginning of the 15th century, we began to borrow words from other languages. Because grammar and usage rules are different in other languages, adopted words did not follow the rules of English pronunciation.

The English language 'borrowed' the Latin alphabet, and so we have only got 26 letters to represent around 41 different significant sounds. This means that we must attempt to use combinations of letters to represent sounds.

In the Middle English Period William Caxton brought the printing press to England. As time passed, pronunciation continued to change, but the printing press preserved the old spelling. That's why today we have words that end in a silent 'e', or have other silent letters in the middle, like 'might'. In fact, modern day English is only 40% phonemic.

So are there any rules and can they help us? Axel Wijk (Regularized English, 1959, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksells) came up with over 100 rules for English spelling. It is claimed that by using these rules, you can spell up to 85% of the words in English with 90% accuracy. But is this really helpful? Basically, no! It gets so complicated that a much easier approach is to memorize sight words.

So you can see that unfortunately there is no clear way to know about all the silent letters in English. But is it a hopeless case? Well, the best we can do is to offer the following list of some silent letters:

Mb at the end of a word (silent b), e.g. comb, lamb, climb.
Sc at the beginning of a word followed by 'e' or 'i', (silent c), e.g. scene, scent, science, scissors (except for the word 'sceptic' and its derivations!).
Kn (silent k), e.g. knife, knock, know.
Mn at the end of a word (silent n), e.g. damn, autumn, column
Ps at the beginning of a word (silent p), e.g. psalm, psychiatry, psychology
Ght (silent gh), e.g. night, ought, taught
Gn at the beginning of a word (silent g), e.g. gnome, gnaw, gnu
Bt (silent b), e.g. debt, doubtful, subtle (but not in some words, e.g. 'obtain', 'unobtrusive'!)
The letter H is silent in the following situations:

At the end of word preceded by a vowel, e.g. cheetah, Sarah, messiah;
Between two vowels, e.g. annihilate, vehement, vehicle
After the letter 'r', e.g. rhyme, rhubarb, rhythm
After the letters 'ex', e.g. exhausting, exhibition, exhort.


:arrow: :arrow: :arrow: http://www.learnenglish.org.uk/grammar/ ... ers01.html

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Post by Dixie » Tue Mar 22, 2005 9:03 pm

You have a rite to right yourself if you write about the right and find you're not right, right? :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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Post by Dixie » Tue Mar 22, 2005 9:04 pm

SILENT LETTERS

Many people are perhaps not aware of the astonishing fact that nearly every letter of the English alphabet is silent in some word. (Silent letters are also sometimes called mute letters.) The following list was compiled with the help of Ellis, Plea for Phonetic Spelling, 1848.

a is silent in head, bread, deaf, meant
b is silent in debt, lamb, bomb, tomb
c is silent in muscle, blackguard, yacht, indict
d is silent in Wednesday, handkerchief, handbag
e is silent in pirate, more, have, give
f is silent in stiff, cuff, scoff
g is silent in gnaw, gnome, phlegm, straight
h is silent in honour, heir, ghost, night
i is silent in business, fashion, cushion
k is silent in know, knee, knock, blackguard
l is silent in talk, folk, salmon, colonel
m is silent in mnemonic
n is silent in hymn
o is silent in leopard, jeopardy
p is silent in psalm, pneumatic, cupboard, receipt
q(u) is silent in lacquer
r is silent in myrrh, catarrh
s is silent in isle, aisle, viscount, mess
t is silent in often, thistle, fasten, mortgage
u is silent in build, guild, plague
w is silent in whole, write, sword
y is silent in prayer, mayor
z is silent in rendezvous

:arrow: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/5037/srabs1.html

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Miss. Ladybird
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Thank you Dixie: )

Post by Miss. Ladybird » Tue Mar 22, 2005 9:13 pm

ImageDixie

You are a sweet angle…………..
Image
Last edited by Miss. Ladybird on Tue Mar 22, 2005 9:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Dixie » Tue Mar 22, 2005 9:16 pm

:roll:

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Post by Miss. Ladybird » Tue Mar 22, 2005 9:28 pm

You deserve it :D . You really helped me here ………
Thank you again sweet ANGEL…………..I wrote it right this time…. :mrgreen: :lol:
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Post by Unknownsu » Wed Mar 23, 2005 12:37 am

Dixie's no angel, she's a hog!

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Post by Dixie » Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:56 am

Jim you're always breaking the magical moments :(

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Post by shokin » Wed Mar 23, 2005 4:19 pm

There is a charm that not all letters are sounded.

Even useless is usefull.

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Nous sommes libres. Wir sind frei. We are free. Somos libres. Siamo liberi.

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Post by Unknownsu » Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:49 pm

Dixie wrote:Jim you're always breaking the magical moments :(
I'm sorry, Dix. I won't do it again, I promise.

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Post by yl88 » Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:13 am

yeah Dixie..well done..

u made a really good research for us..


thx..... :P
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Post by Dixie » Fri Mar 25, 2005 9:03 am

Anytime! I was interested in it, too! Image

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Re:

Post by Albertos » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:28 am

Dixie wrote:
Tue Mar 22, 2005 8:49 pm
;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)

Here are three reasons why English has so many silent letters:

Old English was 90% phonemic (words sound the same as they look). But from the beginning of the 15th century, we began to borrow words from other languages. Because grammar and usage rules are different in other languages, adopted words did not follow the rules of English pronunciation.

The English language 'borrowed' the Latin alphabet, and so we have only got 26 letters to represent around 41 different significant sounds. This means that we must attempt to use combinations of letters to represent sounds.

In the Middle English Period William Caxton brought the printing press to England. As time passed, pronunciation continued to change, but the printing press preserved the old spelling. That's why today we have words that end in a silent 'e', or have other silent letters in the middle, like 'might'. In fact, modern day English is only 40% phonemic.

So are there any rules and can they help us? Axel Wijk (Regularized English, 1959, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksells) came up with over 100 rules for English spelling. It is claimed that by using these rules, you can spell up to 85% of the words in English with 90% accuracy. But is this really helpful? Basically, no! It gets so complicated that a much easier approach is to memorize sight words.

So you can see that unfortunately there is no clear way to know about all the silent letters in English. But is it a hopeless case? Well, the best we can do is to offer the following list of some silent letters:

Mb at the end of a word (silent b), e.g. comb, lamb, climb.
Sc at the beginning of a word followed by 'e' or 'i', (silent c), e.g. scene, scent, science, scissors (except for the word 'sceptic' and its derivations!).
Kn (silent k), e.g. knife, knock, know.
Mn at the end of a word (silent n), e.g. damn, autumn, column
Ps at the beginning of a word (silent p), e.g. psalm, psychiatry, psychology
Ght (silent gh), e.g. night, ought, taught
Gn at the beginning of a word (silent g), e.g. gnome, gnaw, gnu
Bt (silent b), e.g. debt, doubtful, subtle (but not in some words, e.g. 'obtain', 'unobtrusive'!)
The letter H is silent in the following situations:

At the end of word preceded by a vowel, e.g. cheetah, Sarah, messiah;
Between two vowels, e.g. annihilate, vehement, vehicle
After the letter 'r', e.g. rhyme, rhubarb, rhythm
After the letters 'ex', e.g. exhausting, exhibition, exhort.


:arrow: :arrow: :arrow: http://www.learnenglish.org.uk/grammar/ ... ers01.html
Thank you

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Re:

Post by Albertos » Wed Aug 28, 2019 11:39 am

Dixie wrote:
Tue Mar 22, 2005 8:49 pm
;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)

Here are three reasons why English has so many silent letters:

Old English was 90% phonemic (words sound the same as they look). But from the beginning of the 15th century, we began to borrow words from other languages. Because grammar and usage rules are different in other languages, adopted words did not follow the rules of English pronunciation.

The English language 'borrowed' the Latin alphabet, and so we have only got 26 letters to represent around 41 different significant sounds. This means that we must attempt to use combinations of letters to represent sounds.

In the Middle English Period William Caxton brought the printing press to England. As time passed, pronunciation continued to change, but the printing press preserved the old spelling. That's why today we have words that end in a silent 'e', or have other silent letters in the middle, like 'might'. In fact, modern day English is only 40% phonemic.

So are there any rules and can they help us? Axel Wijk (Regularized English, 1959, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksells) came up with over 100 rules for English spelling. It is claimed that by using these rules, you can spell up to 85% of the words in English with 90% accuracy. But is this really helpful? Basically, no! It gets so complicated that a much easier approach is to memorize sight words.

So you can see that unfortunately there is no clear way to know about all the silent letters in English. But is it a hopeless case? Well, the best we can do is to offer the following list of some silent letters:

Mb at the end of a word (silent b), e.g. comb, lamb, climb.
Sc at the beginning of a word followed by 'e' or 'i', (silent c), e.g. scene, scent, science, scissors (except for the word 'sceptic' and its derivations!).
Kn (silent k), e.g. knife, knock, know.
Mn at the end of a word (silent n), e.g. damn, autumn, column
Ps at the beginning of a word (silent p), e.g. psalm, psychiatry, psychology
Ght (silent gh), e.g. night, ought, taught
Gn at the beginning of a word (silent g), e.g. gnome, gnaw, gnu
Bt (silent b), e.g. debt, doubtful, subtle (but not in some words, e.g. 'obtain', 'unobtrusive'!)
The letter H is silent in the following situations:

At the end of word preceded by a vowel, e.g. cheetah, Sarah, messiah;
Between two vowels, e.g. annihilate, vehement, vehicle
After the letter 'r', e.g. rhyme, rhubarb, rhythm
After the letters 'ex', e.g. exhausting, exhibition, exhort.


:arrow: :arrow: :arrow: Letters with these words
Thank you !

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Re: Silent letters!!!!!!!!Why?????

Post by fadiraslan » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:23 pm

Why some letters have different sounds?

Example; the word CAR starts with a letter C and being pronounced as K. Why don't we use the letter K instead of C and spell it as KAR?

I heard that when the word starts with a letter C followed by a vowel letter is pronounced as K.

But when it followed by the vowel letter (i) as in City there will be no change in the sound.

I don't know, I feel that the English Language is a stupid LANGUAGE. 8-) :lol:

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