63 votes

Why is the t in "often" silent?

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 ...
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  • 17.6k
60 votes
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Why is the W silent in "sword" but not in "swore"?

TLDR The W in 'two' and 'sword' is silent because of a sound change that took place somewhere between Old English & Middle English. The change applied to words in which the W was preceded by [s, t]...
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  • 17.6k
45 votes

Is the letter "c" always silent in words which have the letters "sc"?

"sc" is pronounced as "s" before letters Y, I and E in the beginning or middle of a word, or at the end of a word followed by E: scene, descent, scythe, science, convalesce... In most other cases it ...
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  • 24.3k
18 votes
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Why is the t in "often" silent?

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%...
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  • 22.3k
13 votes
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Is the 'w' in sword silent?

"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 ...
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  • 4,373
9 votes

Is the letter "c" always silent in words which have the letters "sc"?

No, "sc" does not always correspond to /s/. As SovereignSun mentions, usually this pronunciation only shows up in the combinations "sce", "sci" and "scy". A somewhat common exception to this in ...
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  • 6,577
7 votes

Why is the t in "often" silent?

A "t" which follows a fricative consonant is often (but not always) silent. Here are some examples from "pronunciation studio" -ften: often, soften -sten: listen, glisten, hasten, ...
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  • 147k
7 votes
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Should I pronounce 'e' in forte?

forte actually comes with two different pronunciations, though many people confuse the two in terms of how to use them. forte, used to mean a strength or strong point, meaning originates from the ...
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  • 9,747
7 votes

Is the 'w' in sword silent?

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 ...
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  • 3,952
7 votes

How do you pronounce, "minestrone"?

Ministrone is an English loan word from Italian. Italian language courses teach the Standard Italian pronunciation in which almost all letters are vocalized except silent h. (So for example, "bella" ...
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6 votes
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Is the 's' or the 'c' silent on scent?

The "c" is silent when preceded by an "s" followed by an 'e' or an 'i' at the beginning of a word. Found this on a site which had rules on silent letters. Authenticity is not known, but it sounds ...
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  • 1,000
6 votes

Is the 's' or the 'c' silent on scent?

"Sc" can be a digraph (two letters combined to make one sound) or a consonant blend (two letters combined that make two sounds). This is why you hear one sound with the "sc" in "science" or "sent," ...
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  • 61
6 votes

What does Django mean by "The 'D' is silent"?

First you should know that there is an old film called "Django", a 1966 "spaghetti western" directed by Sergio Corbucci. The actor who plays Django in that film is Franco Nero, who you might ...
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  • 87k
5 votes
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What does Django mean by "The 'D' is silent"?

Yeah, it's probably meant to make sure people don't say something like "duh-jango". Many English speakers don't know that much about phonetics and aren't consciously aware that the "j" sound is an ...
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  • 6,577
5 votes
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Pronunciation of "met her" in American English

Here are my thoughts as an American English speaker; I don't have references for this so some of it may be wrong. The pronunciation that sounds most natural to me is [mɛɾɚ], with /h/ omitted and the /...
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  • 6,577
5 votes
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Why the K is silent in "know" and "knowledge"?

Every language has a fixed set of rules called 'Phonotactic rules' that govern the licit and illicit sequences of sounds in syllables. A sequence of sounds that is allowed in one language may not be ...
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  • 17.6k
4 votes

Does "shore" require the "r" sound in the pronunciation (UK pronunciation)?

The Original Poster has found an enormous typo/display problem in the Cambridge Dictionary. The type of British English described in the Cambridge Dictionary is Southern Standard British English. This ...
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4 votes

Is the "P" always silent in words that start with "ps"?

Yes, the ⟨p⟩ is always silent in words that start with ⟨ps⟩. The cluster /ps-/ is not a legit onset cluster in English because it violates the Phonotactics constraints of English. Every language has a ...
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  • 17.6k
4 votes
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The TH sound seems to be silent just after the S sound

This is normal, not peculiar to Ms. Swift. In speech th- is often assimilated to an immediately preceding continuant, not only with that but at the onset of any unstressed function word such as the, ...
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4 votes

The silent "u": "forty" and "fourteen"

Two thoughts: "For" would look the same as the preposition "for", so would potentially be a little confusing in a way that "forty" isn't. Some speakers apparently say &...
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  • 22.3k
4 votes
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What is the correct pronunciation of "don't you"?

First and foremost, there's no 'correct' or 'incorrect' pronunciation. Pronunciation of a particular word varies from speaker to speaker or accent to accent. All the pronunciations you've given are ...
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  • 17.6k
3 votes

Is the letter "c" always silent in words which have the letters "sc"?

No, it is not always silent. "Scar" rhymes with "car, pronounced "kar." English orthography is a mess. Virtually any rule you care to make will have exceptions. One reason for the frequency of ...
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  • 26.1k
3 votes

Does "shore" require the "r" sound in the pronunciation (UK pronunciation)?

No. Most (but not all) of England and Wales (but not Scotland) is non-rhotic, which means that a final /r/ is never pronounced unless the word is followed in the same breath-group by a vowel-initial ...
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  • 62.8k
3 votes

Is the 's' or the 'c' silent on scent?

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary: late 14c., sent "to find the scent of," from Old French sentir "to feel, smell, touch, taste; realize, perceive; make love to," from ...
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  • 130
2 votes

How are silent letters important?

Some of the answers here are less than convincing. For example, we are told that we have to keep spellings such as "psychology" to keep the connection with other languages such as Spanish, ...
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  • 22.3k
2 votes

American English Phonetics. Silent H in What's his name?

To answer your questions simply: the h can be silent, and generally is in casual English when pronouncing words that begin with wh- such as what, where and whip. In casual conversation, the h of his ...
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2 votes
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Are 'bud' and 'butt' pronounced identically in American English accent?

The b in both words is the same. The t sound is not usually silent. However, the t sound can be unreleased or not pronounced in normal conversational speed in certain sound contexts. So, they ...
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  • 11.8k
2 votes
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Pronunciation of s in "is he/is him"

The full word is is pronounced with a /z/, not with an /s/. If this word is contracted with a preceding word, then if the last sound in that word is unvoiced then 's will be pronounced /s/. Otherwise ...
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