May 10, 2008

To “T” or Not to “T”?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:37 pm

The question burning a hole in my cruller today is the pronunciation of the word “often.” Are you a person who pronounces the “T” (OFF-ten) or are you a person who prefers the silent “T” pronunciation (OFF-en)?

The dictionary notes that either is correct and has this to say about consonant clusters:

During the 15th century English experienced a widespread loss of certain consonant sounds within consonant clusters, as the (d) in handsome and handkerchief, the (p) in consumption and raspberry, and the (t) in chestnut and often. In this way the consonant clusters were simplified and made easier to articulate. With the rise of public education and literacy and, consequently, people’s awareness of spelling in the 19th century, sounds that had become silent sometimes were restored, as is the case with the t in often, which is now frequently pronounced. In other similar words, such as soften and listen, the t generally remains silent.

I am in the Silent “T” crowd. In addition, being a Garden Stater, I say “often” the same way I say “coffee” (K00A-fee), much to the delight of waitresses in places like South Carolina and Tennessee.

So, how do you say it?

Powered by WordPress