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Dan Gould

Is the "t" in "often" Silent?

How do you pronounce 'often'?   26 members have voted

  1. 1. I say "often"

    • Of-fen
      17
    • OFF-ten
      8

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52 posts in this topic

I thought of this poll last night talking to my wife. I've always said "often" as if the t were silent; she pronounces it off-ten which totally grates on my ears. I know either is acceptable but which is right? I mean, to you?

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I say often with a silent t. Meriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (my reference) lists often with a silent t as the preferred pronunciation, but lists the pronunciation your wife uses as an alternate pronunciation.

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I've always thought pronouncing it with a silent t is just a lazy way of pronouncing the word. A shortcut.  For example, here in the midwest the days of the week end in the "dy" sound, not "day". So Monday become Mundy. 

I'll take the lazy way out at times when I speak. But I've never known often spoken with a silent t as being the correct pronunciation. 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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I think it's a regional thing.  Now that we're in Houston (from the Northeast), I find these regional differences interesting.  For example, down here everyone pronounces it IN-surance; in the Northeast it was in-SHUR-ance.

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I meant to say I've "never known" the silent t version as being correct, above. 

Post edited. 

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As mjzee says, it's a regional thing - in the UK as well. I think it's of-ten in Scotland and offen in the south of England. Issues of correct or incorrect don't arise.

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My son has pointed out to me that I pronounce "both" with an "L" in the middle of it.  Bolth.

Now it's driving me crazy when I hear myself say it, but I can't seem to change.  If I purposely say it without the L, it sounds like I'm pretending to speak British English or something.

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I hope I say often.

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4 hours ago, Aggie87 said:

My son has pointed out to me that I pronounce "both" with an "L" in the middle of it.  Bolth.

Now it's driving me crazy when I hear myself say it, but I can't seem to change.  If I purposely say it without the L, it sounds like I'm pretending to speak British English or something.

Many people trip over the simplest words. I know I sure as hell do, though I can't think of one off the top of my head. 

I do know there is a race car driver named Matt Kenseth, and I flail like a fish on dry land whenever I try to pronounce his last name. It always comes out "Kentheth". 

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I don't think there is a correct or incorrect pronunciation, the choice is determined by region. In Yorkshire the t was always dropped.

I've been asked the same thing here a few times and have always said that the dropped t is the one to use.

If the standard were to be determined by a BBC news presenter, the dropped t is clearly more common.

There are quite a few such linguistic oddities. A thread called ' linguistic quirks & anomalies' would be interesting.

For starters, I'd love someone to clarify the baffling and illogical American use of 'bring' and ' take'.

Edited by kinuta

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The t is pronounced in my part of the world.

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Frequently.

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My late mother instructed me that the "t" in "often" was silent, and there was no arguing with my mother!

kinuta, I believe that you "bring" something here, and you "take" something away.  Is it different in the UK?

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I pronounce the t. Don't recall ever hearing anyone told off for dropping it though my dad (the ultimate working class, Tory voting aspirational) was very quick to pick us up on things like 'better' (beh-ah).

Always liked these regional variations in speech. But had some very sensitive conversations with students in the past about importing them into written essays. The use of 'uz' for 'our' - "we're gonna ger uz bags and ger uz buzzes and ger 'om' - was a common one. 

I'm from the south of England (sort of) so I ought to pronounce bath as 'bah-r-th' and dance as 'dah-r-nce' but for some reason I use 'b-ah-th' and 'd-ah-nce' which is supposed to be northern. Regional word usage and pronunciation seems to survive all the forces of modernisation and yet it's more scattered than often thought - probably a result of internal migration.  

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There was an article on the BBC website this week about the "Southernisation" of English accents. 

Anyway, no "t" for me.

There was an article on the BBC website this week about the "Southernisation" of English accents. 

Anyway, no "t" for me.

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Welcome to the Double Posters Club! :g

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Something I hope won't happen very offen

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5 hours ago, GA Russell said:

My late mother instructed me that the "t" in "often" was silent, and there was no arguing with my mother!

kinuta, I believe that you "bring" something here, and you "take" something away.  Is it different in the UK?

No, it isn't and yes, you are correct.

 

5 hours ago, GA Russell said:

My late mother instructed me that the "t" in "often" was silent, and there was no arguing with my mother!

kinuta, I believe that you "bring" something here, and you "take" something away.  Is it different in the UK?

Absolutely correct.

In a situation where the kids are leaving for school, mother should say ' Don't forget to take your books'. As the kids are going, the paired verb take is used.

You can imagine why I'm puzzled when, not once but many times I've heard American tv characters say ' Don't forget to bring your books', and, to a person about to go home, 'Bring this cake home with you'. At first I thought it was a script error, then I heard it again and started listening carefully. Numerous times I've heard this incorrect use of 'bring' and came to the conclusion that it must be some American colloquial use that I had previously been unaware of.

Normally I wouldn't bother and write it off as ignorance, but presumably the scriptwriters are reasonably well educated and I can't find a reason why they would mix up bring and take, other than it being a commonly accepted form. If so, I'd appreciate an explanation.

Another widely heard tv show expression that bugs me is ' reach out ', I really dislike that term. What happened to 'contact' or ' speak to' ?

 

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I thought this was a discussion of the Gershwin song "Let's call the whole thing off"

 

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4 hours ago, A Lark Ascending said:

I pronounce the t. Don't recall ever hearing anyone told off for dropping it though my dad (the ultimate working class, Tory voting aspirational) was very quick to pick us up on things like 'better' (beh-ah).

Always liked these regional variations in speech. But had some very sensitive conversations with students in the past about importing them into written essays. The use of 'uz' for 'our' - "we're gonna ger uz bags and ger uz buzzes and ger 'om' - was a common one. 

I'm from the south of England (sort of) so I ought to pronounce bath as 'bah-r-th' and dance as 'dah-r-nce' but for some reason I use 'b-ah-th' and 'd-ah-nce' which is supposed to be northern. Regional word usage and pronunciation seems to survive all the forces of modernisation and yet it's more scattered than often thought - probably a result of internal migration.  

The use of 'uz' for 'our' - "we're gonna ger uz bags and ger uz buzzes and ger 'om' - was a common one. 

Indeed, but 'uz' is also used in place of 'me' as in 'Gee uz a kiss luv'. In Sheffield ' 'Aar' is also used in place of 'our' , 'Aarouse' for our house and ' Aarkid' for my elder bother, in which case it is also used for singular 'My'.  Language is a wonderful thing.

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There's also the Yorkshire use of "while" to mean "until", as in "We're staying here while Friday". It is said that a fatal accident occurred on an East Yorkshire level crossing when a motorist drove onto the track after misinterpreting a sign that said "Do not pass this point while red light shows." :o

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6 hours ago, BillF said:

There's also the Yorkshire use of "while" to mean "until", as in "We're staying here while Friday". It is said that a fatal accident occurred on an East Yorkshire level crossing when a motorist drove onto the track after misinterpreting a sign that said "Do not pass this point while red light shows." :o

According to you maybe. But not according to google. ;)

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Now how do all of you pronounce "oftentimes"? :D

One t, two t's or no t? :lol:

 

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