Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Anonymous Guest

    Default silent letters in english

    Dear Sir,

    I am confused why some letters in English language are not pronounced, like s in island or gh in though etc. Also pleae tell me why some letters are pronounced in different ways, as if "i" in fist and fight.

    anxiously waiting for your reply

    Johnson Williams

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,571
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default silent letters in english

    The short answer:

    Pronunciations change over time. while spellings often do not. Also, English has borrowed extensively from other languages, most notably, French.

    I don't think there really is a reason (at least not one that can be determined) for why we sometimes pronounce the i as we do in fish and why we sometimes pronounce the i as we do in fight. That's just the way it is.

    Perhaps others will have additional comments.

    :)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Posts
    133
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: silent letters in english

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    The short answer:

    Pronunciations change over time. while spellings often do not. Also, English has borrowed extensively from other languages, most notably, French.
    Many of the irregularities of the English language are due it's evolution through the centuries. It began with the German speakers (Angles and Saxons) who settled in southern Britain. They were eventually subjugated by the French speaking Normans (or Norsemen) who had settled in the north of France. The peasants continued to speak German, but those wishing to improve themselves would endeavour to show their good breeding by adopting more French language as was being used by the Royal Court at the time. For centuries the two languages intermingled and evolved together, producing the hybrid language English as the result.

    Iain

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    42,674
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    'Gh' was written with a letter we have since lost. When the French invaded in 1066, they didn't know the letter and wrote it with 'g'. over the years the original sound changed or disappeared.

    English is a mixture of four main languages, not a pure one, so we combine many rules from different languages.

  5. #5
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,571
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: silent letters in english

    Quote Originally Posted by dduck
    Many of the irregularities of the English language are due it's evolution through the centuries.
    Um, that should be "its evolution", kind sir.

    :wink:

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    42,674
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    'Kn' used to be pronounced, so 'knight' was pronounced 'k-nicht'.

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    42,674
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    'ph' as 'f' comes from Greek, as does the 'ch' pronounced like \k\. 'ps', with the silent 'p' is also from Greek.

  8. #8
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,571
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    'ph' as 'f' comes from Greek, as does the 'ch' pronounced like \k\. 'ps', with the silent 'p' is also from Greek.
    telephone, symphony, epiphany; archaic, echo, character

    :)

Similar Threads

  1. Help
    By zhangjin in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: 29-Mar-2008, 19:47
  2. any advice on how to improve my english which is in trouble!
    By lucyarliwu in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: 28-Nov-2006, 05:58
  3. [feeling] Annoying English?!
    By Wai_Wai in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 13-Nov-2006, 08:59
  4. silent 'e' rule in english language
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-Oct-2004, 10:46

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •