silent letters in english

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Anonymous

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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
 

RonBee

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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.

:)
 

dduck

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RonBee said:
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
 

Tdol

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'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. ;-)
 

RonBee

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dduck said:
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:
 

Tdol

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

Tdol

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

RonBee

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tdol said:
'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

:)
 
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