What's the point of silent letters?

I don’t get why do silent letters exist, in my opinion they just take up space and make words look bigger >.< pointless

Knife and nife, whats the difference here? Please some feedback on this!

Answer #1

“k” in “knife” stands for a tiny nasalization which was there and most people forget. Pronunciation can be more subtle and the silent letter stands for a hidden sound later it gets forgotten altogether. The initial “h” in Portugeuse spoken in Portugal is silent, though once it will have been pronounced.

Answer #2

As others have said, English spelling is based on the word’s etymology rather than its sound. Different languages have different pronunciation rules. I am a rotten speller in my own language English but I found that when I took French that my spelling in that languages was much better; French spelling is far more regular than Englilsh.

Think of all the oddly spelled words in English.

Why is it women instead of wimen? book instead of buk? floor instead of flor? blood instead blud? Should instead of shud?

Additionally we have words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently.

their, there, they’re seen, scene I’ll, isle, aisle gnu, new, knew wheel, we’ll here, here heir, air

And we have words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently.

You can wind a coil that catches the wind. You can read a book that someone else read. You might defect from the United states because of a defect in your character. All of the farmers might combine their funds to buy a combine.

Dictionaries have standardized spelling and have slowed down the rate that spellings change but changes are still occurring. “Through” is a lot of letters to put on road signs so it was shortened to “thru” which is appearing elsewhere; before long the shorter version will become accepted.

Mark Twain advocated the simplification of English spelling. His plan was:

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter “c” would be dropped to be replased either by “k” or “s”, and likewise “x” would no longer be part of the alphabet.

The only kase in which “c” would be retained would be the “ch” formation, which will be dealt with later.

Year 2 might reform “w” spelling, so that “which” and “one” would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish “y” replasing it with “I” and iear 4 might fiks the “g/j” anomali wonse and for all.

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.

Bai iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez “c”, “y” and “x” – bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez – tu riplais “ch”, “sh”, and “th” rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

More recently the Unifon alphabet has been proposed. Unifon is purely phonetic so once learned everyone would be able to spell any word they could correctly pronounce. The Unifon alphabet has 40 characters to represent all of the sounds in the standard English language. Foreign languges with different sounds would require the alphabet to be modified. Our founding father, inventor of bifocals and discoverer that lightning is electricity, Benjamin Franklin proposed a phonetic alphabet shortly after our revolution to address the irregularity and difficulty of English spelling.

Answer #3

mrscobainx3 is exactly right. Words are spelled as their origins dictate, not as they are pronounced today. ‘’Knife’’ for example dates back to at least the 12th century, from the Old English cnif, which itself can be traced back to a Proto-Germanic word ‘’knibaz.’’

If words were spelled as their modern pronunciations directed, the entire field of study of etymology would not exist.


Answer #4

Honetly,I don’t know.Huh.I never really thought of that.Weird.But I guess some idiot just made it up out of the blue.Stupid and a wast of time.really.

Answer #5

Maybee because Spelling Knife the way that it is now looks better theen spelling it like nife .

Answer #6

I think they had a sound at one point, but over centuries it all changed.

Answer #7

I can sooo tell where you got the Knife thing from, Katt Williams XD anywho I dont know what the meanings for the silent letters are but I can tell you this the silent letter and all the other complicated rules for grammar of the english language is why english is the #1 complicated language then there’s chinese. Only reason why this is is because other languages dont have as many grammar rules like we do…lucky bastards XD

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