P as in Pneumonia

Wouldn’t it be great to have an alphabet of silent letters?

That way when somebody asks you to spell something like your name you could go at it with silent letters or with instances of the letter which don’t have the sound of the letter. Vowels will be a little harder to find in silent positions like “e” at the end of so many words.

Now, the idea of this thread is to try to account for at least one instance of each of the 26 letters on the English language alphabet (aka Roman alphabet).

I already covered P.

Who’s next?


A, B – done
F – ?
J – ?
P – done
R – ?
V – ?
X – ?
Y – ?


Grand Prix

Nitpicks thus far:

One of the a’s in Caesar (the second) might be contrued as not sounding like an a but it is pronounced.

The second m in mnemonic is pronounced as m.

Otherwise, great job(s).


OK, how about…

Forecastle (pronounced foke-sl, so several silent letters there, including the a)

I think the a has been adequately covered with forecastle! It could have been done with just cease.

You pronouce the ‘j’ in marijuana. It just sounds like an ‘h’.

R = February

I’ve never heard the “r” pronounced. It’s always Feb-u-airy.

Halfpenny (pronounced hape-nee)

There’s also a character in the Acts of the Apostles called Mnason of Cyprus, which would do for the silent M if you allow proper names.

Merriam-Webster lists the voiced ‘h’ in marijuana as an alternative pronunciation, not the primary one, so I’d say it isn’t mandatory for that word in English. The OP will be the judge. Having disallowed mnemonic on the grounds that the second m is pronounced, February couldn’t be allowed for a silent r.

I’m struggling with V.

OP here.

I think the issue of j = h in marijuana is sufficient evidence that we should find a better case, in spite of my favored pronunciation of ma-ri-wa-na. The Spanish j appears in too many words where the h is hinted at that maybe a whole new tack is needed.

If at all possible, unless we find we’re forced to do otherwise, I would prefer common (non-proper) usages. There are many place names (Dnieper for instance) that would help build the “silent alphabet” but the average person would stand a better chance of knowing the common usages.

The ideal situation for using this “silent alphabet” would be in cases like movies where they use the Alpha Bravo Zulu things.

In the most ideal (or is it most nearly ideal?) situation, the silent letter would begin the word, but I suspect that’s just too much to ask.

halfpenny is good
prayer is okay, but let’s keep trying on the y

Good input so far.

I can’t believe somebody else wants to do this! Ten years ago, I started work on the silent alphabet, with the stipulation that the silent (or just camouflaged) letter had to start the word. I also preferred more obscure words or words with near-homophones, to add to the confusion. Here’s as many as I can remember:

C as in chthonic (my personal fave)
E as in euphonious
G as in gnash
H as in honesty
M as in mnemonic
O as in Oedipal
P as in pneumatic
W as in wrin

I know I had others (I particularly remember something good for L) but these are all I can recall at the moment.

Sorry, that should have been:

W as in wring