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2012-11-07 Wed

#1290. 黙字と黙字をもたらした音韻消失等の一覧 [spelling][pronunciation][spelling_pronunciation_gap][orthography][silent_letter][etymological_respelling]

 昨日の記事「#1289. magic <e>」 ([2012-11-06-1]) に引き続き,綴字と発音の話題.現代英語の綴字と発音の乖離のなかでも,特に黙字 (silent_letter) と呼ばれる種類のものがある.綴字が無音に対応するケースだ.debt の <b> や island の <s> は,語源(後者は誤った語源)を参照して挿入された黙字の例 (etymological_respelling) だが,多くの黙字は,標準的な綴字が定まりかけていた時期,あるいは定まった後に,対応する音韻が消失したことにより生じたものである.Schmitt and Marsden (137) に,主として音韻消失により生じた黙字が便利に一覧されているので,以下にまとめたい.

Silent letterExamplesReason
k before nknight, kneek ceased to be pronounced during C17 (17th century); see [2009-08-27-1], [2012-04-26-1].
g before ngnat, gnawg ceased to be pronounced during C16
m before nmnemonicGreek spelling; m never pronounced in English
p before npneumoniaGreek spelling; p never pronounced in English
p before spsyche, psychologyGreek spelling; p pronounced by learned people probably until C18
w before rwrist, wrongw probably no longer pronounced after C16m (mid-16th century)
w after sswordw probably no longer pronounced after C17m
l after a and before f or vcalf, halfl probably not pronounced after ME
l after a and before ktalk, chalkl probably not pronounced after ME
l after a and before mcalm, palml probably not pronounced after ME
l in modal verbsshould, couldl ceased to be pronounced soon after ME in should; never pronounced in could (added to spelling by analogy with should)
g after a vowel and before m or nsign, paradigmg reflects French/Latin original spellings but was probably never pronounced in English
word-final b after mbomb, thumbb in some words never pronounced (crumb), in others it ceased to be pronounced quite early (thumb), in still others in EModE (dumb); see [2009-06-01-1], [2011-04-21-1].
word-final n after mautumn, columnn reflects original French spelling but never pronounced in English
t after s or f and before -enlisten, softent ceased to be pronounced in EModE; see [2010-05-11-1].
word-initial hhonest, hourThe loanwords are French, where h not pronounced; English usually follows this, but sometimes not (e.g., host)


 ・ Schmitt, Norbert, and Richard Marsden. Why Is English Like That? Ann Arbor, Mich.: U of Michigan P, 2006.

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