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On Thu, 4 Oct 2001, Colin Halverson wrote:

> Do any other languages (I am sure there are at least a few) have a silent
> letter or especially a silent modifying letter (as in English "ate", the e is
>  silent and makes the a long)???  Where does this come from??  Do any of ur
> conlangs have this??

The silent E in English seems to have been pronounced. In some
dialects, such Es still are (Scots seems to keep the whole -ed
syllable). The silent Es in English come from a variety of
sources, but all seem to be reduced vowels that at one time were
fuller (and pronounced, obviously!)

Kerno has several silent letters (E and S being two obvious
examples), though they work differently than the English E.
I.e., silent E doesn't lengthen a preceeding vowel.

As a Romance conlang, it is odd in retaining grammatical case.
And if you couldn't guess which letter is the case marker, it
is -e, and this E is silent in most people's speech. So, we
have this situation:

        S       Pl
NOM     cats    chath           /kats/  /xaT/
OBL     catte   chattes         /kat/   /xats/

A similar situation in the verbs:

S               Pl.
cantam          cantamus        /kant@m/        /kantamo/
cantes          canz            /kants/         /kants/
cantes          cantont         /kants/         /kantont/

> On a side note, is Welsh a Celtic language, a Germanic language or like
> English?  or what?  Does Welsh or Celtic or Ire (or whatever you call that
> Irish language) use the silent e?

Welsh and Irish Gaelic are both Celtic languages. English (and
Hiberno-English) are Germanic. Gaelic is riddled with its share
of silent letters as well. My own name has a silent D (or
dotted D, really), for example: Padraic = /porIk/ (or "poor rick"
if you don't know IPA).

Padraic.