Words with Silent Consonants
What are silent letters?
A silent letter in an alphabetical system of writing is a letter that in a word doesn’t really match any sound in the word’s pronunciation. A silent letter is typically represented with the null sign U+2205 EMPTY SET, in linguistics. A null segment is one that is unpronounced or unwritten. The symbol is similar to the Scandinavian letter as well as other symbols.
The significant number of silent letters is one of the notable characteristics of English spelling. Edward Carney differentiates between distinct types of “silent” letters, each of which presents readers with varying degrees of difficulty. The presence of many different silent letters is one of the most difficult features of English spelling and pronunciation.
Since English has developed from a variety of sources (Latin, Greek, French, German, Old English, and so on), it has had to absorb all of its predecessors’ spelling and pronunciation oddities. As a result, there have been numerous cases where specific letters have become silent. While it may appear that silent letters have no function in a word, this is not entirely true: silent letters can assist to separate two otherwise homophonous words, convey the meaning or origin of a word, or even aid in determining the overall sound of a word.
They are Classical period relics, as per author Ned Halley. In his words, as the Classical world’s impact grew stronger in the 15th century, English scholars wanted to remind their readers that the majority of the language’s vocabulary came from Latin and Greek.
They added the b to show off their expertise that doubt, which was then written ‘dout’ because it came into medieval English via French doute and was derived initially from Latin dubitare. It was a patriotic act in a sense, reestablishing English’s Classical beginnings over the Dutch, French, German, and Norse influences of the century since Roman dominance declined in Britain in the fifth century and Anglo-Saxon languages began to invade.
Another key point to remember is that quite a number of today’s silent letters were not always so quiet- Ursula Dubosarsky says of the evolution of silent letters. The word knight, for example, was once pronounced with the k and the gh sounded out (ke-nee-g-hht), as were many silent e’s and l’s in English. And the silent w in terms like wreck or write was added to depict a comical Old English r sound that was different from the regular r. However, the way people spoke English changed over time, even if the spelling remained the same.
What is English Orthography?
The system of writing rules used to represent spoken English in written form is known as English orthography, and it allows readers to link the symbols to sound and interpretation. It covers spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, and punctuation in English.
English spelling, like that of most other world languages, has a high level of standardization. When movable type was introduced to England in the late 15th century, this standardization began to emerge. Unlike other languages, however, practically every phoneme (sound) can be spelled in various ways, and most letters have multiple pronunciations depending on their position in a word and context.
A few facts about silent letters.
1. The silent E lengthens the vowel before it. Consider the CVC words cap vs. cape or mop vs. mope. There are a few three-letter silent e words that have different pronunciations, such as do vs. doe.
2. It softens C and G.
Dance, wage, or stage are some examples.
3. Silent E softens TH
Bathe, soothe, or lithe are some examples.
4. It adds a syllable to words when it appears with an L at the end.
Bundle, basic, or handle are among the examples.
5. Silent letters can tell the difference between homophones, such as in/inn, be/bee, and lent/leant. This is a helpful hint for readers who are already familiar with both terms.
6. Silent letters can reveal information about a definition of a word or origin, for example, vineyard suggests vines more than the phonetic ‘vinyard.’
7. Silent letters, such as guest/gest, help demonstrate ‘hard’ consonants.
8. They can assist in the connection of multiple forms of the same word, such as resign/resignation.
Types of silent letters.
In a Survey of English Spelling author Edward Carney divides silent letters into two categories: auxiliary and dummy. He divides the two groupings into the following categories.
Auxiliary Letters are letters that are not used in the main body of the letter “Auxiliary letters are part of a set of letters that spell a sound that isn’t represented by a single letter. As an example,
/th/ thing /th/ there /sh/ share /zh/ treasure /ng/ song /th/ thing /th/ there /sh/ share /zh/ treasure /ng/ song”
“Inert letters and empty letters are two types of dummy letters.
Inert letters are letters that are sometimes heard and sometimes not heard in a word segment. As an example,
resignation (g is not heard)
withdrawal (g is heard)
malignant (g is not heard) malignant (g is heard) malignant (g is not heard) malignant (g is not heard) malignant (g is not”
Like auxiliary letters and inactive letters, empty letters have no purpose. The letter u in the word gauge, for example, is blank. Silent consonants can be found in the following words:
b: dumb, thumb
d: bridge, ledge, edge
g: foreign, sign, design, assign
h: rhinoceros, spaghetti
k: knee, knit, knob, know, knuckle
l: calf, talk, could, should, would
n: autumn, column
p: raspberry, receipt
t: castle, listen, whistle
w: answer, wrap, wring, wrong, write, wreath, wrath.
Silent letters are more difficult to predict than empty letters in new words. “There are no standards that we can apply to words with empty letters,” said Strausser and Paniza, authors of Painless English for Speakers of Other Languages. You just have to utilize them and recall their spelling.
What are silent consonants?
Silent consonants must be distinguished from a number of other consonant letters that are not pronounced correctly. Consonant letters that combine with a neighboring letter to generate a sound that neither would make alone or to remove ambiguity about how the other letter should be pronounced are an important subset of these. The indicated sound will be a vowel if the other letter is a vowel; otherwise, it will be a consonant.
The letters “h,” “w,” and “y,” as in oh, cow, and toy, are examples of consonant letters that join with a vowel for these purposes and cannot be termed silent.
A consonant that is written as part of the spelling of a word without being pronounced is referred to as a “silent consonant” in the English spelling system.
If that’s the case, it’s not a feature unique to English, despite the fact that the English spelling system is infamous for it.
Numerous English words contain ‘silent letters,’ which are letters that are not uttered. Consider the distinctions between the words, ‘laughter’ and ‘daughter.’ You’ll notice that the word ‘laughter’ has an ‘f’ sound, but the word ‘daughter’ does not.
A silent letter is one that is written but not spoken. There are no common guidelines or recommendations for identifying a quiet consonant. In most circumstances, we must learn both the pronunciation and the meaning of the word. Let’s look at which letters can become silent and see if there are any trends.
Problems with silent consonants.
The usage of consonant letters that are not pronounced when the word is being spoken is one of the numerous quirks of English spelling. Learners of English are likely to come across this phenomenon even at the most basic levels, in words like knee, night, and conversation. The unusual spellings used to represent how their words were pronounced, but they ceased doing so as the pronunciation of the word changed as a result of the normal evolution that all languages go through. Because spellings, in general, tend to be maintained the same, the terms’ spellings have not altered.
Common silent consonants.
In the spelling sequences mb and bt, the letter b is always silent in the word-final position: comb, numb, bomb, limb, debt.
In the spelling pattern dj: adjective, adjunct, neighboring…, the letter d is always silent.
In the spelling pattern gm or gn, the letter g is silent: phlegm, gnarl, champagne, sign, gnat, gnaw.
In the spelling pattern gh and in the word-final position: ghost, ghetto, aghast, ghastly, ah, eh, oh. ”h” is silent in the spelling sequence gh and in the word-final position: ghost, ghetto, aghast, ghastly, ah, eh, oh.
In the word-initial spelling pattern kn, the letter k is always silent: kneel, knee, knob, knight, knave, knowledge, knife, knock”.