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July 1, 2010
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Jawaharlal Nehru was the first prime minister of India. What number is Manmohan Singh?
I'm fairly sure the word "stymie" derives from an obsolete rule in golf: if your ball was on the green and another ball was blocking its path to the hole, that was just tough. You had to go round it, chip over it (?) or something. By extension "stymie" has been applied to anything stopping you from doing things.Most often I hear the word used as a verb: "I've just had an operation and won't be able to drive for a few weeks. I feel completely stymied."
Interestingly a stymie in golf is very similar to a snooker in, well, snooker, and the usage of both words has been extended in a very similar way.
So "stymie" is similar in meaning to "stifle" but I doubt they come from the same root. I may be wrong about this however.
Caroline - I agree. "Just saying" seems to be the new "no offence", as in "no offence but (insert insult here)".
Shaun C:I agree with what you say about "game" and similar words. I'd call 'a-e' a digraph just like 'ai'. You wouldn't say "bait" had a silent "i", would you? However I'd say words like "caste" and "gaffe" do indeed have silent E's.
Other Chris:Well done on that list, even if there's the odd dubious one in there. Marijuana looks good for J. Lacquer is probably as close as you get to a silent Q. Regarding "Lefebvre" (which I've seen as a single word), I think the B is silent, not the V.
I think Richie's pronunciation of "people" is pretty normal for that part of the country. Final L's, as well as L's in words like "milk", turn into W's. Interestingly, here in NZ you hear something similar: "milk" often comes out like "muwk".
I see a few place names bandied about. I reckon we could just about do the whole alphabet with place names alone, for example Wymondham (in Norfolk) which has three silent letters.
For me it's not "ant" or "ont" or "awnt" but "ahnt". I pronounce the "au" the same as I do in "laugh". I come from the UK but have lived in New Zealand for the past 7 years. Everyone here pronounces it "ahnt" too.
Richie:Yes, silly me, it's just like the J in José - an H-type sound.
Regarding "could", did it gain an L by analogy from "would" and "should"? By the way, I'd say the L in "could" is "more silent" than that in "talk".
When I met this symbol in maths it was pronounced "twiddles" and meant "is equivalent to".
With "acquire" I'd say the C was silent, not the Q. I'm struggling with Q, but reminded of the Monty Python bookshop sketch - "four M's and a silent Q".As for silent J, how about "fajitas"?Silent M - "mnemonic" seems to work.Silent O - "phoenix"?And you can add "swimming pool" to the silent P's (!)I agree with James above. I wouldn't say "mate" has a silent E because the E affects the pronunciation of the word.
Hang on, after reading some of those replies, maybe those question marks in my post above are correct after all. They're statements, but they expect an answer from me so they're questions too. Now I'm confused.
I think the issue here is that people see a "question word" and automatically put a question mark at the end. In my last job I'd get emails with "questions" like these:Please tell me which of these figures is correct?I don't know what spreadsheet I should be using??I'd like to know when the new version will be available???
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