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  1. #1
    TheNewOne is offline Junior Member
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    Default Pronunciation of 'often'

    I often hear that the word "often" is pronounced as /ɔftən/ (mostly by Americans). My dictionary gives me the same transcription along with /ɔfən/. So what's the difference?

  2. #2
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    riquecohen is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    There is no difference. You can choose the pronunciation you prefer. I don't know if the first option is used mostly by Americans. I use the second one.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    Quote Originally Posted by TheNewOne View Post
    I often hear that the word "often" is pronounced as /ɔftən/ (mostly by Americans). My dictionary gives me the same transcription along with /ɔfən/. So what's the difference?
    I use the second one, too. The first one I might use if I am being careful about the way I speak (i.e., in using emphasis).

    Note that, the /t/ in /ɔftən/ is often not produced because to make the sound [t] you have to stop the air in your larynx/windpipe from flowing. The sound before it, [f], and the sound after it, [ə], don't stop the airflow. With those sounds, the air flows freely, continuously through your windpipe.

    [ɔ'fən] has continuous airflow, whereas [ɔf'tən] does not: it requires more energy to produce, which is why the /t/ is often not produced.

  4. #4
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    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    I use the second one, too. The first one I might use if I am being careful about the way I speak (i.e., in using emphasis).
    I've never heard it used this way ie. with a /t/ if you're being careful.
    I say /ɔfən/ no matter how I'm speaking, just as I say /sɔfən/ for 'soften'.

  5. #5
    Janvandebreek is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    Both are perfectly interchangeable, both in the US and UK, Australia etc.

  6. #6
    curates-egg is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    We knew, when I was at school, that those who sounded a 't' in 'often were NQTD, 'not quite top drawer'.

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    I was taught that it was 'wrong' to pronounce the /t/ and it was discouraged at my school, though some used it.

  8. #8
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    I've come across people who used either pronunciation.

  9. #9
    EngFan is offline Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I was taught that it was 'wrong' to pronounce the /t/ and it was discouraged at my school, though some used it.
    Where was the school? and the teacher was a native english speaker?

  10. #10
    curates-egg is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    Quote Originally Posted by EngFan View Post
    Where was the school? and the teacher was a native english speaker?
    I was taught that in school, too. It was a school in the south of England, and all the masters were native speakers; all of them were Oxbridge graduates.

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