81

TL;DR Your friend is incorrect. It's not *tpelf with p, but tƿelf with ƿ—Wynn—which was the Old English (OE) letter to represent the phoneme /w/. So twelve was tƿelf 1. Twenty was tƿēntiȝ 2. Two was tƿā 3. Historical prelude to W The letter that looks like a P is actually: Ƿ (ƿ) It's called Wynn which was a runic letter in Old English alphabet for the ...


71

𝑇𝐿;𝐷𝑅 The reason why the vowels in the first syllables of 'south' and 'southern' are different is Trisyllabic Laxing (TSL) which was a phonological rule back in Old and Middle English. It's a process whereby a long vowel/diphthong is shortened if two or more syllables follow. 'Southern' was a three-syllable word when TSL applied to it. TSL shortened the ...


68

𝑇𝐿;𝐷𝑅 The pronunciation of 'iron' in standard varieties of English is EYE-URN (BrE: /'aɪən/, AmE: /'aɪrn/) and not EYE-RUN (which is also a common pronunciation of 'iron' in some varieties of English) because of a very common process called Metathesis. It's defined as the transposition/rearrangement of letters, syllables or phonemes (sounds) in a word. 𝐸...


64

It's an example of medial cluster reduction. The t was once pronounced but in the 17th century, the t in some words was dropped whenever it was preceded by a fricative (/f/, /v/, /s/, /θ/ etc) and followed by a sonorant (/l/, /m/, /n/ etc). Examples: In 'often', the t is preceded by /f/ which is a fricative and followed by /n/ which is a sonorant. In '...


57

𝑇𝐿;𝐷𝑅 The W in 'two' and 'sword' is silent because of a sound change that took place somewhere between Old & Middle English. The change applied to words in which the W was preceded by [s, t] and followed by a back vowel [ɒ ɔ o ɑ u] etc. 'Swore' and 'sworn' also lost their W's at one point, but were later on restored by analogy with swear. 𝐸𝑥𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑛...


43

This has to do with English stress patterns and prosody. English stress patterns are enormously complex and have many, many, many exceptions. TL;DR 'Bicycle' has a short vowel in its second syllable because the prefix bi- is a stress-bearing prefix and can take primary stress (prominence). So when the primary stress moves from the cy to bi-, the cy gets ...


29

𝑇𝐿;𝐷𝑅 I don't know how it was pronounced in the past, but it must have been /ˈθriː.pɛ.ni/ (THREE.PE.NI) at some point, which is a three-syllable word having a 'tense' vowel in its first syllable, meaning it's a prime candidate for Trisyllabic Laxing. It's a process whereby a long vowel/diphthong is shortened if two or more syllables follow: */ˈθriː.pɛ....


27

Short answer There are rules regarding what kind of sounds go together and where can they be found. Those rules are called 'Phonotactic rules' (or 'Phonotactic constraints'). If we used a single pronunciation for the -s endings in every situation, we would get ill-formed sequences of sounds, therefore we use three different sounds for the -s in order to ...


25

Christina Perri pronounces it correctly and that's not restricted to American English. As far as I know, the pronunciation of closer (adj) with an /s/ is the correct pronunciation in almost all varieties of English. Pronunciation of close (verb) I think you're confusing close (adj) and close (verb). The verb close is pronounced [kləʊz]—with a /z/. ...


25

Assumption is directly derived from Latin assumptionem which does have a P, so it also has a P. Assume on the other hand is derived from Latin assumere, which didn't have a P. Other similar examples include presume/presumption and consume/consumption Edit* Articulatory reasons for the P The epenthetic P is probably inserted for articulatory reasons. ...


25

TL;DR The reason why the ⟨th⟩ in posthumous is pronounced /t͡ʃ/ (ch) is the coalescence/assimilation1 of the t and the following u. Explanation 'Posthumous' is made up of the prefix post- and humous. Post ends in a /t/ and the ⟨h⟩ in humous is silent so it starts with a u which is basically /juː/ (the same as the u in 'cue'). We could say that humous starts ...


21

𝑇𝐿;𝐷𝑅 'Lose' came from Old English (OE) word losian while 'loose' was taken from Old Norse around the thirteenth century. There was a process in OE through which s, f and th became voiced respectively to [z], [v] and [ð] when they occurred between voiced sounds i.e. between two vowels or a vowel and anther voiced sound. There was no phonemic contrast of ...


20

I grew up with the 12-sided 3d coin. We did not call it "threepence" but "thruppence" with the u pronounced according to your dialect, sometimes as e. A penny, tuppence, thruppence. However that does not mean nobody ever said "three pence" or "three pennies". Since three is plural, it was pence not penny, except when ...


19

In 1988, research by J. C. Wells for the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary showed that only 27% of British English speakers pronounce the "t". Subsequently, 1993 research showed that only 22% of Americans pronounce the "t". Whether things have changed in the subsequent thirty years I don't know. The major dictionaries include both ...


18

The best way to explain why the same letter patterns are pronounced differently in different words is just to explain the actual historical reasons for it. You'll have to choose the timing and the amount of detail to suit your students, but here are the main facts: The Latin alphabet had about 23 letters but Anglo-Saxon and Middle English had about 45 ...


17

It is mostly a matter of historical accident. From the outset English spelling represented a compromise between competing native, French and Latin schemata. In Middle English spelling began to be standardized, informally; but this was a time when actual pronunciation was changing very rapidly. As the process went forward both pronunciations and spellings ...


17

Void's answer give the immediate explanation: English does it because Latin does it. Edit - and now also explains the phonetic reason. But there is a more general answer behind this. It's a phenomenon called epenthesis (not a very good article, but it gives the idea): where a sound comes to be inserted between two other sounds, just because it starts ...


15

(The following adopts the common convention of using slashes to denote phonemes and square brackets to denote phonetic realizations.) Background Japanese speakers' inability to distinguish /r/ and /l/ in English lies in the difference between the two languages' phonological systems. English distinguishes /l/, a consonant articulated with the air from the ...


15

In some regional accents it is /aɪrən/, but this is rare enough in most regions that people may never have come across it and will consider it an error, so learners aren't advised to pronounce it that way. In the 15th century, spelling variants included "irn". According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the standard pronunciation shows "loss ...


14

There's often not much point in asking why a word has a particular pronunciation. There's rarely any logic or pattern. Recycle is a word recently created (1920s, but only being used in its modern meaning in the 1960s). It means "cycle again" and the suffix "-cycle" has the same meaning as the word (meaning to go around). Bicycle is ...


13

"Sord" is the correct pronunciation. "C-word" definitely isn't correct. However, I can see why you'd be confused. The "w" in "sw" in this case is silent. However this isn't always the case. Take the word "swore" for example. It is pronounced as "sw-ore." This is one of the things that makes English so hard to learn.


13

You may be confusing two words that are spelt the same. "Closer" (adj), meaning something that is more close (near), has an 'S' sound. "Closer" (noun), meaning something or someone that closes (shuts), has a 'Z' sound. Note also that there is a difference in the way words are pronounced when they are sung. When singing, we break up ...


12

'Post' is a common prefix in English, from the Latin for 'last' which to us essentially means 'after'. The English 'posthumous' literally means after burial. For the full etymology of the word from Latin, see this reference. Some words that use this prefix are not compound words but hyphenated, for example, 'post-mortem' (an examination after one's death). ...


10

The word "go" has a vowel that ends in the sound [ʊ]. When words that end in this sound are followed by another vowel, we like to put a small /w/ sound in between to separate out the two vowel sounds. So for "go outside" or "go upstairs", you will probably hear a native speaker say something like "go woutside" and "go wupstairs". There is no problem in ...


10

There are various analyses of this. The simplest issue to deal with is "ruin". Quite simply, "ui" doesn't act as a phonogram/digraph in this word. It's simply "u" followed by a separate "i". This sort of thing is common in English: consider that "create" doesn't have the "ea" sound of "leaf" or of "deaf", and "archaic" doesn't have the "ai" sound of "rain"....


10

"Loose" has probably always been pronounced with [s] - the Norse word that it was borrowed from is spelt with double "s". "Lose" has been pronounced with [z] at least since Old English. (Between vowels, OE "s" was pronounced [z]. I use square brackets here because the s/z distinction in OE wasn't phonemically ...


9

Say, expecting fraud and trickery: Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore, Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles, Missiles, similes, reviles. (From Gerard Nolst Trenité's "The Chaos" (1922), either the best or worst thing ever written about the idiosyncratic pronunciation of English, depending on your point of view.) Personally, the single most ...


8

Yep. You can blame it on the Great Vowel Shift, and all the smaller ones before it (but not after), plus some of the consonants altering themselves to fit a passing craze from time to time. Both words are Germanic, their etymology going back to Middle English to Old English, with no French or Latin influence; it would be safe to assume that the -gh- once ...


8

You will find that all good dictionaries include pronunciation. For example, the Wiktionary entry for sword shows that there are up to four different pronunciations of this word, all of them with a silent "w": General American: /sɔɹd/ Received Pronunciation ("typical" British): /sɔːd/ rhotic, without the horse–hoarse merger: /so(ː)ɹd/ non-rhotic, without ...


8

The letter 'J' usually represents the sound /ʒ/ in French. In English this sound is most often represented by the letter 'S'. A large number of the words that have this sound in actually came to us from Old French. Many of them end in -sure. Here are some examples: leisure, treasure, pleasure. closure, exposure, seizure (yes, that last one is spelled with a ...


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