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September 19, 2010

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Shaun, It's absolutely impossible to explain further. I have written my pronunciation as well as I can, and I can't explain further *how* I manage to talk that way. Probably only Henry Higgins has a phonetic alphabet up to the job of getting the precise sound across. Listen very carefully to people from the right part of Essex. I don't know how far this phenomenon spreads. I wasn't even aware I was doing it until it was pointed out to me.
Roughly where are you from, if you don't mind me asking?


  • September 25, 2010, 5:44am

Jay, I think that would count as dialect. People would probably think you strange if you wrote like that in a national newspaper column.

Yes, I believe that is what happened with "could".

Chris B:
In "fajitas" the J is pronounced as English H.
Likewise, in "tortilla" LL is pronounced Y (or sometimes more of a j sound).
Using Spanish pronunciation is not making the letters actually silent.

It is my accent (South Essex). I say "people" more like "peepou". Likewise I often drop Gs and Ts, though I would use a glottal stop. I know some people will think my pronunciation is just lazy and not a good example to use here.

I know we now have some examples for L, but I'd like to add that "could" not only has a silent L but shouldn't have an L at all. "Would" and "should" are from "will and "shall", so preserve the L, but "could" is from "can", so ought to be spelt "coud". Chaucer wrote "koude". "Could" is an unetymological spelling.


  • September 19, 2010, 9:11pm

I think I have made a mistake; "them" is the Viking pronoun. "Thou" is from OE. I probably should not write when tired.

Can every letter be used as a silent letter?

  • September 19, 2010, 12:14pm

Probably any letter can be silent if you talk to the right people! (e.g. I don't pronounce the "l" in "people")

Resume, resumé, or résumé?

  • September 19, 2010, 12:08pm

Personally I'd avoid writing "resume", "CV" or any other such word at the top of your CV. Just put your name - it should stand out better. Of course, different countries and industries have preferred rules, so perhaps it is best to consult a book about writing a CV.
I think Weetus is overly fond of putting little marks above letters ;-)
I use "zed" (correct in English and French) but I'm quite happy for people to use "tzet" (German). "Zee" is zomething people do with their eyes!


  • September 19, 2010, 11:42am

I love learning languages and finding out about word roots. It is good to have a big wordhoard if one is a wordsmith or wishes to clarify in simpler language. My English vocabulary increased muchly when I learnt Latin. I agree with the people who complain Latinate words are sometimes used in snobbishness. I found a great poem, "Aestivation" ,where as many Latinate words as possible are used. I like a bit of humour and eccentricity.
I'm not sure what Jon C's gripe is with the KJV; if you don't like it get a different translation! The KJV was intentionally written in grand-sounding language. "Thou" might be out of date now, and even somewhat when the KJV was written, but it's a nice Viking pronoun (the Vikings got so integrated English took on some of their pronouns, the most internal parts of language). It's all Indo-European, so is it really such a big deal?
It's true science uses a lot of Latin and Greek word stems to describe things. The joy is in learning the classical languages and having a laugh at the simple meanings of the scholarly-sounding names.
I don't like how some people seem to be attacking Chaucer. Nobody here has suggested a return to late 14th century English. It won't please modernists and it won't please Angliscs; it's already full of Frenchy words. Chaucer should be everyone's friend because he wrote in English. The late 14th century saw the resurgence of English as a literary language.
Wordplay is a great thing. Our choice of words can convey tone and create atmosphere. Language changes, not just from foreign words coming in. Sometimes nonsense words enter common speech, e.g. "chortle". Shakespeare coined a lot of compound words. I see Anglisc as a bit of fun at getting some words into common use and reminding us of the history of our language. I like seeing what our language *coud* have been like. Today I've also been reading Proto-Indo-European, another scholarly reconstruction that might leave some of you wondering why anyone bothers.

(Could is a misspelling because "would" and "should" are from "will" and "shall", so should have "l" in, but "can" should not lead to "could". Chaucer spells it "koude", and "coud" seems to be the logical modern way.)