Silent English

In 1968 an American linguist, answering the question "How do you pronounce TESOL?" (the acronym of the Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) answered: "T as in castle, E as in give, S as in island, O as in people, and L as in calm."


In fact you can, with some use of proper names and loan words, create a complete silent alphabet for English, as follows:

A as in BREAD
B as in DEBT
C as in INDICTMENT
D as in HANDKERCHIEF
E as in GIVE
F as in HALFPENNY
G as in GNAW
H as in HOUR
I as in FRIEND
J as in MARIJUANA
K as in KNOW
L as in CALM
M as the first M in MNEMONIC
N as in AUTUMN
O as in PEOPLE
P as in PSALM
Q as in COLQUHOUN (a Scottish surname)
R as in FORECASTLE
S as in ISLAND
T as in CASTLE
U as in GUARD
V as in MILNGAVIE (a Scottish place name)
W as in WRONG
X as in SIOUX
Y as in PEPYS
Z as in RENDEZVOUS

No wonder we need a phonetic alphabet for English and authors of pronouncing dictionaries get rich.

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Compiled by John Higgins between 1968 and 1998, and incorporating suggestions from Otto Siegrist and Dick Matthews