Tuesday 28 October 2008

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...


  1. 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!

  2. "Knightsbridge" has a silent K,g, and h.

  3. "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

  4. "Business" has a silent "i" and also a silent "u" as that vowel is pronounced "i".

  5. 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:)

  6. How about the first "h" in rhythm? Also, the "o" in people? And the "p" in psychology?

  7. 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".

  8. 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'.

  9. phlegm - g silent
    pneumonia - p silent

  10. "Doughnut" has 3 silent letters: the u. g, and h.


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