Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Silent alphabet

Phonics is the basis for a national exam in the UK assessing reading competency among the young; fail, and students are remedial readers, regardless of their actual competency in reading.

Thinking about the sounds letters make, I started to wonder if there are any letters of the alphabet which are *never* silent, or if the entire alphabet could be "said" by saying nothing at all....

I'm hardly the first person to try making an alphabet out of this online. I don't pronounce all the words the same as some of those who've tried this exercise, so am not convinced by those in brackets, although they're starting places. * mark words disagreed with by commenters.

A *logically
B thumb
C *chthonic, muscle
D *Wednesday, bridge
E are
F halfpenny
G thorough
H shepherd
I maize
J marijuana
K knight
L half
M mnemonic
N Autumn
O colonel
P receipt
Q lacquer
R [February]
S island
T subtle often
U tongue
W write
X faux
Y [mayor]
Z rendezvous

In short: the phonics alphabet *could* be largely pronounced through silence, with just a couple of letters left to say any other way....

Done with some insights from this site, this one and this one.



Sep. 11th, 2013 09:24 pm (UTC)
"Rendezvous", "faux", "mnemonic" and "marijuana" are all resorting to other languages that have different orthography from English. Either the letters are silent in that language, or they have sounds that English speakers don't reproduce very well.

The French used to spell the silent "s" in "hostel", "hospital", "forest", etc. until the Academie Francaise took the esses out, temporarily replacing them with a circumflex over the preceding vowel to mark the missing letter. Some time in the previous century the Academie proposed getting rid of the circumflexes, as the esses had been gone long enough, but the French have become attached to their circumflexes, so they get to stay, for now at least.
Sep. 12th, 2013 08:28 am (UTC)
Ah, OK. It's a more general case, then. I was thinking that 'the origin problem' meant 'a word where most English speakers don't pronounce a letter that is pronounced in the origin language, and where I follow the origin language', as in 'marijuana'. 'Rendezvous' didn't seem to fit, as at least a good number of French and English speakers don't pronounce the 'z' (caveat on the French speakers because I'm not familiar with lots of the non-France dialects).

I knew about the silent 's', and had got as far as wondering when the 'z' in 'rendez' would last have been pronounced in standard French. Villon's poetry looks as if it ought to have a lot more pronounced consonants in it than modern French, for example, but I've never heard it read aloud.