Talk:Silent e

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"Bad" and "bade"[edit]

I always thought "bad" and "bade" were pronounced identically. He bade him farewell. She forbade him to do x, y and z. It's the same, isn't it? jguk 19:28, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

Bade, as the past tense of bid, can have either pronunciation according to the American Heritage Dictionary. -- Smerdis of Tlön 19:32, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
Interestingly enough, the /bæd/ pronunciation forms a minimal pair with "bad" in Aust Eng which has /bæːd/ for this. JIMp talk·cont 03:01, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

long vowels[edit]

Hmm, should we really say that "ei" is a long "a", as this is ambiguous and confusing. Is there a better way to describe the sound changes? Zeimusu | (Talk page) 14:23, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

The above is an important note. Since the description of "long vowel" and "short vowel" in English is a description of how things changed hundreds of years ago, it is useful primarily for people studying the linguistics of the Great Vowel Shift. Unfortunately, the terms "long vowel" and "short vowel" are probably used most commonly to try to -teach- people to speak and read English. The inaccuracy of the terms is confusing. I find it much more helpful when teaching readings to simply talk about what the letter or groups of letters 'say' rather than trying to give them a name: e.g., the "a" in apple says /ae/. Unfortunately, the terms are all too commonly used as if they are supposed to be helpful to 6-year-olds and others who are easily confused by jargon. Jerekson| (Talk page) 17:56, 21 Nov 2005

Compensatory lengthening[edit]

Is the compensatory lengthening account really correct? Consider the word bide. In Middle English, this was a disyllable, and I think since the first syllable was open, the i was already long, so the pronunciation was /bi:də/. In a word like bid, there was only one syllable, and since it was closed, the i was short, so the pronunciation was /bid/.

The point I'm trying to make is that the length distinction was already present in ME, before the final schwas dropped. In this view, no compensatory lengthening occurred.

I'm not sure which of these two accounts is most widely accepted. Can the author of the present wording give a citation? I think mine is Wyld's History of the Mother Tongue; but that's an old account and the conventional wisdom may have changed.

ACW 14:30, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

I don't know who the author is, but the "compensatory lengthening" explanation, while conventional, does not appear to be correct. As ACW points out, the length was already there when the schwa elided, so there was no lengthening, compensatory or otherwise. These long vowels were then subject to (internal) dissimilation, ultimately resulting in the diphthongs we have now. Let's change the article. Squidley 15:43, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
I tend now to agree; compensatory lengthening usually occurred where consonants were lost, not final schwas. I have changed the article to include both explanations. -- Smerdis of Tlön 15:52, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I like the new version better, though I believe it is not correct to say that the "g" of "maegde" was lost. Instead, it became a glide [j], just like the "g" of OE "daeg." This change of "g" to "j" ("i" or "y" if you prefer) is also found in modern Swedish.
Incidentally, we were editing at the same time, and you finished first. I will modify my edit to fit with yours, and toss it in. I hope you like it. Squidley 16:18, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
I've always found it somewhat remarkable that the Old English spelling system recognized that this glide was in fact originally /g/, and wrote it that way. In poetry, it alliterated with /g/; perhaps many traditional formulas would be broken if it stopped alliterating. Smerdis of Tlön 22:18, 21 May 2005 (UTC)

Long and Short[edit]

The links in the very first paragraph of the article take us to an article on vowel length, which immediately contradicts the present article. It reads, "While not distinctive in most dialects of English, vowel length is an important phonemic factor in many other languages..." This is true. The terms "long" and "short" have been used inaccurately in English reading education for decades. The fact is that the Silent E makes you say an entirely different phoneme, not a version of the phoneme longer in duration. There is nothing about the sound /ɪ/ as in "rid" that becomes 'longer' when we add a letter E to the spelling. Rather, the vowel sound is an entirely different phoneme, the diphthong /aɪ/--"ride." I would like to represent the common educational terms (short and long) as contradictory to the research available from linguistics, or correct them to match linguistics of English. Jerekson 06:15, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

It is true that the way the terms "long vowel" and "short vowel" are used in this context is potentially confusing. However, Wikipedia is not the place to try to reform the world. Rather, we have to stick to describing it. It turns out the "long" and "short" have meanings other than duration in this context. Unfortunate, but that's the way the English language is. --Ccrrccrr (talk) 19:16, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
It's not incorrect or unfortunate; it's just idiosyncratic. God save us from whatever neologisms the correctitudians would come up with. (talk) 00:15, 13 April 2013 (UTC)

IPA pronunciations[edit]

I don't know about you, but the IPA pronunciations on this page seem to me to be incorrect unless pronounced in a strong Northern English accent. Me, and everyone from my locale (London) pronounces "maid" and "made" as /mejd/ or perhaps /meid/ and "bight" and "bite" as /bajt/ or perhaps /bait/ - there's definitely no ɪ involved, and I'm pretty sure that's the case in American and all other major regional varieties of English. On the other hand, a Scouser...


Why is e capitalized throughout the article, as if a proper noun? I believe the proper style would be italics. Potatoswatter 08:11, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

Bad software bug?[edit]

I wrote:

'''Silent ''e''''' is a writing convention in English spelling.

Here it is without the "nowiki":

Silent e is a writing convention in English spelling.

On my browser I'm seeing the phrase "Silent e" in bold above, as I intended, and the rest of the sentence not bolded, also as I intended, and the e in italics, again as I intended. But within the article this markup is causing the whole paragraph to appear in bold. What's going one? Michael Hardy (talk) 17:58, 7 September 2008 (UTC) Silent E is all part of English Language... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:23, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

it depends[edit]

i added the word often to the introduction. i think it is misleading without it. Daiv (talk) 00:55, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

'a' group[edit]

The change doesn't always make the 'a' sound ''. As for example: far /fɑː or fɑɹ/ - fare /fɛə or fɛr/ (just like fair), war /wɔː, wɔːɹ or woʊr/ - ware /wɛə or wɛr/ (just like wear or where), car /kɑː or kɑɹ/ - care /kɛə or kɛr/. How about this group? Ferike333 (talk) 19:16, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

There are dialects (such as my own) that do not have /eɪ/ before /r/ unless there is a syllable boundary (such as with slayer). In such dialects, historical /eɪr/ has become /ɛr/. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 00:05, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, just like in general English. I think only dialects have /eɪr/. Ferike333 (talk) 15:51, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
That's absolutely false. By the way, would you like some help off of your high horse there? Tharthandorf Aquanashi (talk) 00:50, 12 December 2014 (UTC)

Truly silent 'e'[edit]

The 'o' in 'come' is there owing to the spelling (orthography) of the Norman French who noted the Carolina script that didn't let a 'u' be put before letters like 'm', 'n', or 'v' (which was also 'u') ... nor did the French let a word end with 'v'/'u' ... an 'e' would be added. The word 'come' in Old English was cuman, the word 'come' has always been said as 'cum' ... the 'o' and 'e' were put there by the Norman French spelling. Same for 'love' (also luv) ... and for 'some'. Indeed ... there was lufsum.

Captive came straight from Latin (not thru French) but follows the Norman French spelling of not ending a word with the letter 'v'. Dropping the silent 'e' that does not change the vowel before it, is always a part of spelling reforms like SR1. --AnWulf ... Wes þu hal! (talk) 15:27, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Magic e[edit]

Why is this at Silent e it's better known as "magic e" ... it's not even really silent in that it's the two vowel letters in combination which spells the sound. JIMp talk·cont 03:09, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

This article also discusses "e's" that are truly silent, like in "have", "give", "determine", "active" etc. Hence the title "silent e". In a way, all letters are silent. Letters don't really make sound, vocal cords do. (talk) 19:18, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Extraneous content[edit]

There's a lot of extraneous content in this article, which I may perhaps remove. The separate subsections on the "a group", "e group", etc. are quite unnecessary, since the double values of English orthographic vowels are a general feature of the orthography, not specific the role of silent e. The section on fictional silent e's is embarassing trivia. (talk) 00:29, 13 April 2013 (UTC)


The verb to mete is rather rare. Wouldn't Pete or heme be better examples? --Squidonius (talk) 01:09, 23 April 2015 (UTC)