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November 4th, 2005
12:58 pm
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Silent English
You've all heard the joke about the man who signed in at a hotel "Mr. Ghoti" and pronounced his name "fish," right? "Gh" as in "enough," "o" as in "women," and "ti" as in "motion."

I've been wondering for a long, long time if it's possible to assemble a "Silent Alphabet" -- use the same selective pronunciation to find dark corners in the language where the absence of virtually any letter goes unnoticed.

A few quick examples:
   n as in damn ["dam" is pronounced the same]
   w as in sword ["sord" isn't a word, but if it were, you'd pronounce it the same way, per "sore" and "sort"]

Shrinking of double letters (such as in "fillet," the verb, and "filet," the noun) seems too cheap to me to count. Unambiguous silence would be preferable for vowels (is the "o" silent in "unambiguous"? I'd rather find a word where the word with its absence is also proper English). Beyond that ... have fun, and help me out.

Letters still needed: f, (i), j, q, v, y

Current solutions below the cut (and in comments)Collapse )

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[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2005 03:06 am (UTC)
Ah, another one. Queue, which is pronounced.. Q. Quay is pronounced Key, but I don't know if that's a silent leter or just weird. Speaking of quays, wharf-- silent h. Vehicle, silent h. Knife, knit, knack, knock, silent k. Clock, silent c, the second one. Cloak, silent a.
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2005 03:41 am (UTC)
Don't forget the balogna.
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2005 09:25 am (UTC)
Or Tarot.

...The Tarot of Balogna, oracle of made-up nonsense and/or lunchmeat! Or made-up nonsensical oracular lunchmeat, 78 slices!
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2005 09:33 am (UTC)
Adding to my list: clothes. It's pronounced exactly the same as "close"... but I suspect this one is exclusive to my own dialect, and everybody else pronounces the TH. I'm sure I've heard people say it with all parts enunciated.
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2005 06:01 am (UTC)
hors d'oeuvres (lots of silent letters, you're missing the s)
layity (it's a stretch, but you might consider the first y silent)
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2005 03:54 pm (UTC)
It's actually spelled "laity."
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2005 09:46 am (UTC)
Could "Hyundai" count for Y?
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2005 03:51 pm (UTC)

Did a little googling

business, marijuana, dossier, prayer.
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2005 05:11 pm (UTC)
Silent i and h: "heir"

And English is deficient of superflous j's, q's, v's, and y's, it would seem.
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Date:November 6th, 2005 10:29 am (UTC)
Not sure where you'd find silent v's in English, but in Sanskrit, a V in the middle of a word turns into more of a W, while at the beginning, it's still a V. That's about as close as I can think of.

For J, you might have to look to Spanish, ie; Jose', jallapeno....In French, it turns into "zhe," usually.

other miscellaneous silent letters....maybe look to Gaelic. They seem to have an abundancy of letters in their words. And French as well, seeing as 2/3rds of the written languge isn't actually pronounced, unlike other Romance languages like Latin and Italian where you're more likely to hear every letter.

There's also 'ugh' as in Marlborough. I'm pondering on a lot of British place names, there's several that have spellings with silent letters.

Another for W, in Greenwich/Woolwich.

Y in Eyvonne.

S in Arkansas....

[User Picture]
Date:November 6th, 2005 10:53 pm (UTC)
In a strict sense, you'd have to make sure they're not linked with some other letter:

cloak != clok
straight != straght
indict != indit
impugn != impun
balogna != balona
should != shoud
walk != wak
(I pronounce the r in February.)
(Finding silent letters in foreign import words is almost cheating.)
(I pronounce the t in often.)
laissez-faire != laisse-faire (Here, the rules of French even say so.)
Date:November 7th, 2005 10:17 pm (UTC)
If you need better words for 'g', you could try a new paradigm.
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