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  1. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
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    #11

    Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    Quote Originally Posted by ladybird987 View Post
    Could a British man write something? I got confused...
    The reason for the conflicting views is that the pronunciation of the south of England (which influenced America) doesn't have the [t] sound. So when people from the midlands and the north of England heard it (in films, initially) they thought 'Aha, that's American'. But there's never (well, not for centuries at least) been a [t] sound in the word "often" in much of the south of England. And there's a question of social class too; using a [t] sound, in some circles, marks the speaker as 'common'.

    W. S. Gilbert made a joke out of it in the libretto for The Pirates of Penzance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (much of the plot of which, as you will see from that article, hinges on the idea of an 'orphan'); there's a character who has to say 'often (frequently)', because he doesn't say 'ofTen' but (unusually, for today's ears) he pronounces the words "often" and "orphan" with similar-sounding first syllables.

    b

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    #12

    Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Never with a [t] in Oz, apart from 80+ yr olds.
    Please, pardon this (maybe stupid) question, but what does "Oz" stand for?

    Oz = Australian (English)? Seems logical, since I read something like Brisbane, though my initial reaction was to think of a certain fantasy land with wizards and stuff. As I've never seen Oz in another context, I was just a bit confused a moment ago.

    To the topic: At least on the BBC services I have never heard it with a pronounced T. So, when this is good English...! I'd always go for /offen/ too, because this is how I learned it at school, and furthermore /often/ sounds nearly like the German equivalent: oft.

    The same term, "oft", and spoken exactly like the German word, is also, unless my memory betrays me, an archaic (or literary?) English variant for "often". I guess, that's what historically explains the 't' in 'often' anyway.
    Last edited by LeMoyne; 29-Oct-2008 at 01:05.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #13

    Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    Quote Originally Posted by LeMoyne View Post
    Please, pardon this (maybe stupid) question, but what does "Oz" stand for?

    Oz = Australian (English)? Seems logical, since I read something like Brisbane, though my initial reaction was to think of a certain fantasy land with wizards and stuff. As I've never seen Oz in another context, I was just a bit confused a moment ago.

    To the topic: At least on the BBC services I have never heard it with a pronounced T. So, when this is good English...! I'd always go for /offen/ too, because this is how I learned it at school, and furthermore /often/ sounds nearly like the German equivalent: oft.

    The same term, "oft", and spoken exactly like the German word, is also, unless my memory betrays me, an archaic (or literary?) English variant for "often". I guess, that's what historically explains the 't' in 'often' anyway.
    Sorry, Oz stands for Australia. I shouldn't use that therm here.
    Yes, "oft" is almost never used, except for poetically. The t is pronounced in "oft".

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #14

    Re: Pronunciation of 'often'

    Quote Originally Posted by LeMoyne View Post
    ...

    The same term, "oft", and spoken exactly like the German word, is also, unless my memory betrays me, an archaic (or literary?) English variant for "often". I guess, that's what historically explains the 't' in 'often' anyway.
    Both. As Raymott said it's used in poetry (of a certain age - I don't think modern poets still use it). But although it's no longer used as a free-standing adverb, it is used to form compound adjectives such as 'oft-repeated'.

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