Read Subtle Science

Inspiration seems a little dry at the moment for Stuck-in-a-Book, possibly because my own pleasure-reading has been taking a back seat to my work (though, with Conrad and Kipling and Katherine Mansfield this week, that will make interesting writing when I’m finished with it) so I’m going to set a little activity which will quite possibly drive you a little insane over the next few hours/days/years…

And today’s post title tells you what the task is. If you’re feeling particularly intelligent, that is – because, no, I’m not suggesting that I’ve read subtle science, or that you should, but…

Sorry? What was that?

You at the back?

Yes! You’ve spotted it. ‘Read’, ‘Subtle’, and ‘Science’ each have a silent letter – ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’ respectively, in fact. Can you help me compile an alphabet of silent letters, as it were? I’ve only got about half the alphabet. I need your help. And I’m going to recycle a cartoon from my library days…

10 thoughts on “Read Subtle Science

  • October 29, 2008 at 9:28 am
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    Does Xylophone have a silent letter? Because the X sounds like a Z, does that mean the X is silent?

    Honestly Simon! This is all far too intellectual for a Wednesday morning!

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  • October 29, 2008 at 10:49 am
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    “The “T” is silent, as in Harlow”.

    Emma Alice Margaret Tennant, “Margot” Asquith (Countess of Oxford and Asquith) 1864-1945. To Jean Harlow, who had been mispronouncing her name, quoted in T. S. Matthews in Great Tom, chapter 7. 1973

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  • October 29, 2008 at 10:51 am
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    “Business” has a silent “i” and also a silent “u” as that vowel is pronounced “i”.

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  • October 29, 2008 at 1:16 pm
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    Neither of the ‘c’s in ‘science’ is silent: ‘c’+ ‘i’ or’e’ is usually sibilant – the initial ‘s’ in this case masks the fact. As fo the silent’a’ in ‘read’ – don’t get me started:)

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  • October 29, 2008 at 3:25 pm
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    How about the first “h” in rhythm? Also, the “o” in people? And the “p” in psychology?

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  • October 29, 2008 at 8:37 pm
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    Aw, I thought you had joined my side of the two cultures divide!

    How about plough? I’m not sure I agree that the h in Knightsbridge is truly silent nor the first “h” in “rhythm”; perhaps that is because as a Scot I’m used to loch?
    In Business I pronounce the “u” and “i” differently, although I agree that the “u” isn’t pronounced “you”

    I think we are going to have to work very hard to find a silent “z”.

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  • October 29, 2008 at 10:31 pm
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    Good job guys – must say, though, that my rules are picky! To be truly silent, the word must sound the same with that letter out (so even if the letter isn’t technically a silent letter, it still works as one – hence ‘science’ counting). And fifiquilter, I mean read as in ‘I once read some books’ rather than ‘I read a lot of books’.

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  • October 29, 2008 at 11:03 pm
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    phlegm – g silent
    pneumonia – p silent

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