Which word has a silent B at the start?

According to this Guardian article, about the book “P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever”, there is one word in the English language which starts with a silent B. Unfortunately, they don’t tell us which word it is, and I’d quite like to know! Answer The word is ”Bdellium” pronounced /ˈdɛliəm/. It is … Read more

Is there a word spelled with a silent B at the start?

My dad and I were playing a game in the car where we picked a letter and then each alternated saying a word that started with that letter. We did it with b, for example, it might go: Dad: bath me: ball dad: buffalo me: bank etc. As we were playing/debating the rules of our … Read more

Is there an etymological explanation for the silent ‘g’ in “paradigm”?

Whenever I come across the word paradigm, I have to make a small conscious effort not to pronounce the letter ‘g’. In Italian, it is spelled paradigma and each letter is individually pronounced i.e. /pa·ra·dìg·ma/. But in English, paradigm is pronounced paradime, which is written phonetically as /ˈparədʌɪm/ (You can hear its pronunciation in this … Read more

Why is the word “folks” pronounced [foʊks]?

Why is the word folks sound like it’s pronounced [foʊks] rather than [fɔɫks]? It’s as though people are thinking it’s spelled fokes. Answer This is the result of historical loss/vocalization of the sound /l/ in certain contexts. As Max Williams mentioned, we also see this loss in -alk words like walk, talk, chalk, balk, stalk. … Read more

What are these silent H’s in place names in England?

I went to England and heard people pronouncing place names weirdly. For example, Caterham was pronounced “K-ter-rum” or “K-trum” instead of “K-ter-ham” Selhurst was pronounced “SEL-lust” instead of “SEL-hust” Clapham Junction was pronounced “CLAP-pam JUNK-tion” instead of “CLAP-ham JUNK-tion” It seems like that the H in these names are silent. I have never seen this … Read more

Confusing ‘r’ sounds

In their kids song “Crazy ABCs”, the Barenaked Ladies sing about words that start with confusing sounds: A is for aisle B is for bdellium C is for czar However, when the song gets to “r”: R is for R-gyle No, it isn’t OK, you’re right; I couldn’t find a good “r” word So my … Read more

Should the first h in Nehemiah be silent? If so, why?

I hear many native speakers do not pronounce the first h in Nehemiah. However, I also found a video pronouncing this h. I am wondering about the correct pronunciation of Nehemiah in English. This word is transliterated from the Hebrew word נְחֶמְיָה‎. If we try to pronounce it in the Hebrew way, the first h … Read more

Is “ageing” the only exception?

have, having love, loving make, making take, taking give, giving hate, hating strive, striving Etc. When a verb in its lemmatic form ends with “-e” then its present participle omits that letter. Except that the British make an exception of the word “age” and write “ageing”. Are there other such exceptions? Are there any such … Read more

When did Magdalen return to England?

From Mary of Magdala, the female disciple of Jesus Christ cited in the New Testament, we have the names Magdalen and Magdalene. Oxford Dictionaries includes the archaic definitions of magdalen, a reformed prostitute, and a home for reformed prostitutes. According to Etymonline, the Greek female name Magdalene was anglicized to Maudelen in the early 14th … Read more

How did the “b” get in “debt”?

According to both my trusted sources (wiktionary and etymonline), the word debt (“something owed”) traces to the Middle English word dette, which goes back to dett, from the French etymon dete. I was wondering how a silent b got placed into the word; how come we don’t have det or something similar? I know the … Read more