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Why is the "T" not pronounced?[edit]

If the word "often" is derived from the word "oft," then why is it preferred not to pronounce the "T" (i.e., sounds like "off in")? —This unsigned comment was added by Simonsa (talkcontribs) at 15:48, 7 July 2006.

A lot of people do pronounce the /t/, but often it just gets softened (there's another one) through a process known as elision. Widsith 16:23, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Could we get some clarification here on which pronunciation is proper? I came here to settle a disagreement with a roomie and there was nothing useful. -- Thanks —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 17:52, 12 July 2006.

Please define what you mean by "proper". English has no language academy. AHD and Encarta give various pronunciations for American English: /ˈɔfən/, /ˈɒfən/, /ˈɔftən/, /ˈɒftən/. On you can read about changes in English which affected the pronunciation and spelling of this word in the 15th and 19th centuries: 19:18, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

This is where your wrong. Every word has one pronunctiation. You should have learned this in English class. If you pronounce it with a "t" it is not proper. Just because George Bush couldn't pronounce the word nuclear doesn't mean the pronunctiation is changed. —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 02:38, 27 February 2010.

Many words have multiple pronunciations, even among one person (either)--Simplificationalizer (talk) 23:49, 26 March 2017 (UTC)

While it may be off subject, the above comment is a wonderful example of irony. 22:12, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

A friend of mine that has lived in Canada told me that the pronunciation with the 't' (/ˈɔftən/) is very common there. She is an English teacher and lived in the central region of Canada. I myself have never met this pronunciation.Panglossa 00:18, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

/ˈɔftən/ with a 't' is also commonly heard in Texas. This is a result of a current trend to speak as you spell, where the etymological spelling of a word influences its long-established pronunciation. —Stephen 11:13, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

The 't' is silent as in soften and hasten. Pronouncing the 't' is a bad habit being spread by barely educated news reporters and others on TV. —This unsigned comment was added by Djhearne (talkcontribs) at 02:38, 21 January 2009.

Please indicate your level of education and the levels of education of which reporters and others in particular on TV. — hippietrail 12:57, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

The previous author doesn't mention whether he pronounces the t in often or not so asking his own level of education is irrevelant. The fact that they are badly educated can be presumed if they are doing something wrong. It has nothing particular with where they went to school, college or university. -Paul W —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 13:40, 21 January 2009.

You have an opinion. You are judging others based on this opinion. You are not even attempting to back up your opinion with facts. If this is the way you were educated to debate then I suggest you are badly educated. Please present your case. — hippietrail 21:53, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

- No problems with pronouncing the 't' according to my UK 1972 Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary. It offers four pronunciations for the word, while for most words, including 'soften,' it offers only one : (I read the entry, these are different; 1st: the initial 'o' sound is same as in 'off' and there is no 'e' sound, making it 'of'n'; 2nd - again no 'e', but the 'o' sound is identical to that of 'ORphan.' The other two have the 'o' sound from 'off' and a(pronounced) 'mute e' sounds, the third with no audible 't', the 4th with. - So unlike pronouncing 't' in 'soften' this dictionary does not here consider an audible 't' wrong.)

As for preferable, I can only imagine a posh, old-fashioned actor saying 2, and 1 sounds posh too. I use 3 and 4 depending on where the word occurs in a phrase and how I am talking. I would expect to hear the 't' more frequently if someone was, say , slowly reading a technical or academic text aloud, but even in the most formal context, to my ears it sometimes sounds right without. - The third, ie without a 't,' is the most commonly heard, I would say.

My understanding of pronunciation is that it can be preferable to soften a strong regional accent and to to limit idiosyncratic social group or personal variations, otherwise where there there are recognised (accepted) variants, say whatever seems most natural. I wouldn't have expected that American English had more rules in this regard than UK English, although the above comments suggest that may be the case. It has been suggested that the fact that Americans do not have a tradition of speaking English reaching back as far as it does in the UK may influence certain attitudes and practices such as trying to sound distinguished by pronouncing the 't', or over-hastliy labelling someone 'uneducated' because of their pronunciation. 02:58, 28 July 2010 (UTC)brumstudent4576

The t is silent. Anyone that pronounces the t is uneducated. This should be obvious, see: soften, hasten, listen, moisten, fasten, etc. 10:59, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

No, anyone that makes anonymous patronizing comments is uneducated. Mglovesfun (talk) 11:20, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Actually American speech and manners have been known to preserve the older and often most formal way of the past. An example is the handling of the knife and fork. Switching hands with the fork and eating off the upturned fork is the older and formal way of handling the fork. Eating off the back of the fork without changing hands, is a newer fashion in Britain and Europe and has generally been considered incorrect in America. As for Americans having a limited history with the English language, the person making this comment is joking is he not? You are aware that we were English and Scottish colonists.

It is rather unlikely that American English speakers preserve a pronunciation habit that fell out of use in the 15th century, i. e., the sounding of the t. The more natural explanation is that sounding the t is an instance of spelling pronunciation, a kind of hypercorrection. Hypercorrections are considered a mark of the middle class in the UK: people who orient themselves towards the upper echelons of society are more likely to overgeneralise or make erroneous assumptions as to what sounds "more correct", "more formal", "more high-register" ("fancier"), "more polite" or simply "upper class", assuming that (what are seen as exclusively) popular or lower/working class habits are to be eschewed. This explains the phenomenon described under U and non-U English where upper class usage often aligns with lower/working class usage and may even sound shockingly vulgar at times. It turns out that those who mince their words and use affections are (in many cases) not the upper class, but the middle class, simply assuming – wrongly – that such is the habit of the upper class. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 09:41, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

Most people who emigrated to America weren't English or Scottish colonists. They were speakers of other languages who learnt English as a second language. And learners are more likely to use spelling pronunciations (if they can read). So if the spelling pronunciation were more common in America, this would be a logical explanation. (Apparently that's not the case, though.) Of course, America lacks tradition in many other ways, too. For example, dialects. The differences between American dialects are minimal in comparison to traditional dialects in Britain even though Britain is, relatively, a tiny territory. So if Americans were more intolerant towards divergent pronunciations, this would be a logical explanation for that. (But I'm not saying that's the case, either.)