often (pronunciation)

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Shark, Feb 6, 2005.

  1. Shark

    Shark Senior Member

    France - French
    Moderator note:
    This thread was created by merging
    threads about the same question.

    Often this type of question is repeated
    because the question could be expressed
    in several ways..

    I learned at school that we should not pronounce the "t" of the word often, but here in England (in Birmingham at least) they pronunce it. I don't really understand why. Can we say both or is it a regional/British particularity?
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2008
  2. mjscott Senior Member

    You can say it either way. I don't think anyone on either side of the Puddle will correct you, as we often heard it said both ways--often within the same day and in the same regions--but just with different people.
  3. Nywoe Senior Member

    Canada: English and French
    Even here, it is pronounced both ways.
  4. pen Senior Member

    I have lived in New York , Maryland, and New Jersey and you always hear both pronunciation.

  5. stevenality

    stevenality Member

    Australia English
    This is really a very interesting question.

    In my mind, there is no doubt that the t is meant to be silent. One needs only to consider words like soften and listen to see the parallel.

    Nevertheless, it is an incontestable fact that many English speakers pronounce the t.

    My suggestion is that if you are learning English, it would be better to adopt the pronunciation sans t.
  6. fetchezlavache

    fetchezlavache Senior Member

    metz, france
    besides, when you say 'oftentimes', the 't' isn't pronounced ! or is it, by people who pronounce it in 'often' ?
  7. stevenality

    stevenality Member

    Australia English
    Good point Fetchezlavache - maybe a native speaker who says OFTEN could comment!
  8. roxy

    roxy Member

    Ireland, English and Irish
    I always say ofTen. I think most Irish people do, although I really wouldn't consider it incorrect to say "offen". I mean I don't think I would even notice. Same goes for "either" - can be "eether" or "i-ther". Or 'ennnn-velope'/'onvelope' too! Even the indefeinite article "a" has two pronouciations - ah or ay!! It's just the wasy it is.

    My point is, anyone who tells you there is a "correct" way to pronounce often is just being a bit fussy. Either is fine in a realistic sense.
  9. Focalist Senior Member

    European Union, English
    You'll find some interesting comments on the phenomenon of "spelling pronunciation" here (though the article misuses the term "popular etymology" in my view).

  10. roxy

    roxy Member

    Ireland, English and Irish
    Actually - the more I think about it, the more I realise that it's probably just people from certain areas of the country say ofTen. Others say offen. Both pronounciations float around!
  11. Lora Senior Member

    UK, English
    Oh I don't know which I say - I wouldn't notice if someone said 'ofTen' though I don't think.
    'Offen' seems to come more naturally to me though.
    It's like the either/either thing - I use both pronunciations interchangeably, though I usually opt for 'ee-ther'
  12. Shark

    Shark Senior Member

    France - French
    Wow, very interesting! Mysteries of the English language, hu? And thanks for the "either" thing, I had the same question about this one! Now I know that I can use both.
  13. Hatchet Senior Member

    When I began learning English I was strongly taught that often should be pronounced off-t-en

    yet I've hardly ever heard any native speaker say off-t-en, they all say offen without the "t"

    So I'm curious to know whether some of you still pronounce often : off-t-en ?
    And to I guess most of you who pronounce offfen, how does it sound to your ears when you hear someone say "of-t-en" ? very formal maybe ?

    Thank you:)
  14. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    ofTen sounds careful, not necessarily formal. Personally I use it, but I spend a lot of time speaking clearly to non-native speakers, so I'm probably not typical...

    I think most AE-speakers would use oFFen in usual speech. It does not sound uneducated or incorrect.
  15. la grive solitaire

    la grive solitaire Senior Member

    United States, English
    I was taught that the only correct pronunciation of often in AE is without the t, so it still sounds odd to me when I hear it pronounced. But with the current, rich variety of regional accents and inflections, I think either pronunciation is now acceptable in the U.S. But I'd be interested to hear from other native speakers of English (British, Australian, etc.) how often is pronounced in their countries.
  16. Tresley

    Tresley Senior Member

    Yorkshire / United Kingdom
    British English
    Hello Hatchet,

    I'm in the UK and I regularly hear both pronunciations.

    I have tried thinking which I use, and, to tell you the truth, I think I use both!

    For example:

    "How oFTen do you go to the cinema"?

    "Not very 'oFFen' these days"!

    Yes, I use both!

    I do know that very posh people in the UK say 'oRFen', which always makes me smile!

    I hope this helps.
  17. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    Based on comments, I think, Hatchet, that you can say both oFTen or oFFen, and no one would criticize you.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
  18. Tresley

    Tresley Senior Member

    Yorkshire / United Kingdom
    British English
  19. Hatchet Senior Member

    that is funny, I was taught the exact contrary :)

    ok, so both pronunciations are quite usual , is the conclusion

    thank you all :)
  20. yann_ccc Banned

    from the point of view of purely descriptive linguistics, the only thing that seems interesting to me is the question called "spelling pronunciation" - which in the case of the word "often" is mostly UK and fairly indirectly US

    now if it is a question of usage, and more importantly a question of norm (eg in the context of language learning) it might be interesting to know that (in the UK)
    - many speakers use both (with or without T)
    - [ofen] is used by 72% of the speakers
    - [often] by 27%
    - [oofen] by 1%
    - [ooften] by 0%
    main source : JC WELLS' Pronunciation Dictionary
  21. mwingate New Member

    English - USA
    I'm from North Carolina (USA), and I was taught in early elementary school that the 't' is silent, so that is how I've always pronounced it. But everyone else I know pronounces the 't'....
  22. nickm70 Senior Member

    American English
    These answers shock me, I've never heard often pronounced with a silent 't' o_O

Share This Page