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Re: My favorite silent English letter is:

by ikegami (Pope)
on Mar 02, 2012 at 05:18 UTC ( #957381=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to My favorite silent English letter is:

The "z" is technically not silent in "rendezvous". "ez" as a whole forms the "" sound, and neither letter on its own would sound that way. It's like English's "sh", but it's a vowel instead of a consonant. French has many such combinations.

The "o" in "opossum" is not silent. "Possum" refers to a completely different animal.

Which "r" of "surprise" do think is silent?!

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Re^2: My favorite silent English letter is:
by runrig (Abbot) on Mar 02, 2012 at 18:36 UTC
    The "o" in "opossum" is not silent. "Possum" refers to a completely different animal.

    According to Merriam-Webster, the "o" in opossum is optionally silent.

    I'm not sure what to make of the pronunciation of opossum at dict.org, as I can't find a pronunciation guide there (maybe the "*" after the "O" means it's optional? - update: Nope, other examples show clearly it's just a delimiter between syllables).

    I find it interesting that only the opossum "plays possum." I think perhaps the "o" is an invisible silent letter in that phrase :-)

Re^2: My favorite silent English letter is:
by mertserger (Curate) on Mar 02, 2012 at 11:46 UTC

    "Which "r" of "surprise" do think is silent?!"

    ikegami,

    I think to many Americans the first syllable of "serpent" has a noticiable "r" at the end whereas "surprise" doesn't, so that is what they mean by the missing r. To me they both have more-or-less the same first syllable, so I suspect I would sound like I am not saying the "r" in "serpent" to them as well.

    As I said in another post on this thread the technical term is "rhotic" for the pronunciation which says the "r" in "serpent", "non-rhotic" where you don't. Wikipedia has an interesting article on it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhotic_and_non-rhotic_accents. Are you a non-rhotic speaker too?

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