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Why do some words have letters that are not pronounced?
Like the H in why and when etc, the P in Psychology, the W in write.....?
I can see that rite and wen have completely different meanings when the H is taken away, but why didn't 'they' just make up a different word altogether instead of using silent letters? We have to differentiate between them in the spoken word by the context so why not in the written word?
asked in Language, words



cryptminder answers:

If they were pronounced, then we wouldnt have any silent letters.
Many people have made comments on how difficult it is to learn English, especially grammer and that it would be far simpler if words were spelt as they sounded.
as sicology fraze,skool etc


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seacommander answers:

Apart from giving school teachers something with which to challenge their pupils, it would seem that a significant proportion of words with silent letters have been borrowed from other languages. Maybe if we had made up these new words from scratch we would have distiguished between them both in pronounciation as well as spelling. The following sites try to explain the origin of at least some of our vocabulary in which letters remain silent. Even the experts seem to consider rationalising rules for silent letters a hopeless case.

http://www.learnenglish.org.uk/grammar/archive/silentletters01.html

http://www.garretwilson.com/education/languages/hindi/devanagari/lesson4/unprono...

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/vivian.c/EnglishSpellingSystem/SilentLetters.htm


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OneFootInTheGame answers:

The h in why and when is pronounced (in the US at any rate.) There is an expulsion of breath that is absent in words such as will and won't.

Another reason for silent letters is the change in pronunciation over time with the spelling remaining the same.


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martin.thomas answers:

I was told as a child that a final 'e' in a word was there to lengthen the vowel. Consider the difference between 'mad' and 'made' for instance. This is true, but in many cases that final 'e' used to be pronounced ... generations of people clipping the ends off words changed that.


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