Pronunciation - often

How you pronounce the word OFTEN


  • Total voters
    69

supercrom

Banned
Homo peruvianus, practising AE n' learning BE
:) Hello! members of this forum, I am back again not to annoy but to solve mysteries (he he).

:D I like asking about how people pronounce some words, sorry if you don't feel comfortable, but it's an interesting topic to me.

Thanks a lot.

Supercrom
 
  • Phryne

    Senior Member
    Argieland--Esp/Eng
    My last linguistics teacher mentioned briefly in class that the pronunciation of "t" was considered as "overcorrection" (or some concept like that), which means that it was no pronounced for centuries and all of the sudden people included the [t] sound (again). I can't find my notes about that, or the term used in class, but I found this site that explains briefly what happened there.

    often_with_the_t_sound

    Also, from The free dictionary.com:

    Usage Note: During the 15th century English experienced a widespread loss of certain consonant sounds within consonant clusters, [...] the (t) in chestnut and often. In this way the consonant clusters were simplified and made easier to articulate. With the rise of public education and literacy and, consequently, people's awareness of spelling in the 19th century, sounds that had become silent sometimes were restored, as is the case with the t in often, which is now frequently pronounced. In other similar words, such as soften and listen, the t generally remains silent.

    I've always said [ofen], so I vote for that one.

    saludos :)
     

    LadyBlakeney

    Senior Member
    Spain
    Often, fasten, hasten, soften... I just realized I pronounce all of them in a very funny way. I do not pronounce the "t" but I do place the tongue touching the ceiling of the mouth (as if I were going to pronounce it) and then I let out a soft, sudden and short puff of air through my nose, ending the word with an "n" sound (but keeping my tongue still).

    Were did I get that from? I've learned English pronunciation just by listening.

    Definitely I am the weirdest being on earth... and I don't know what to vote! :D
     

    Masood

    Senior Member
    British English
    Personally, I never pronounce the 't' in often, fasten, hasten etc, so they sound like off'n, fass'n (or fars'n if you're from southern England), haysn etc.
     

    VenusEnvy

    Senior Member
    English, United States
    I realized something too. Often is the only in which I occasionally pronounce the t. If I try saying Fasten, Hasten or Soften with a t, it sounds weird! :eek:
     

    supercrom

    Banned
    Homo peruvianus, practising AE n' learning BE
    Citado de VenusEnvy
    There's no option for both?

    Depending on how hurried I am, I'll either pronounce the t or not. ::shrugs shoulders::
    So, when you are hurried, d'you pronounce the T?

    Well, I was going to put another option, but I thought to myself that a lot of people would say immediatly "both" without any explanation.

    Sorry for that inconvenience

    Supercrom
     

    supercrom

    Banned
    Homo peruvianus, practising AE n' learning BE
    Citado de begoña fernández
    Los ingleses dicen más often y los americanos ofen, o así me lo ha parecido a mí cuando los he oido hablar.

    BF
    I've got a different opinion, Begoña. I think that both British and American English do pronounce OFTEN in the same way: /ofen/, but I heard that in the US this pronunciation is less formal, so the formal version is /often/.
    I think that Aussie English always pronounce often with the T sound.

    Supercrom
     

    suzzzenn

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hey Supercrom,

    Nice to see you again. I use both often and offen. Maybe it is overcorrection, who knows! I never really noticed it before. I am going to start listening more carefully and try to observe how people around me are saying it. It's a good issue to be aware of as a teacher.

    Susan
     

    ps139

    Senior Member
    NYC
    USA, English
    Phryne said:
    My last linguistics teacher mentioned briefly in class that the pronunciation of "t" was considered as "overcorrection" (or some concept like that), which means that it was no pronounced for centuries and all of the sudden people included the [t] sound (again). I can't find my notes about that, or the term used in class, but I found this site that explains briefly what happened there.
    I was taught the same thing when I studied linguistics... /often/ is an "overcorrection," at least in America. I always say "offen.".... actually, I probably pronounce it more like "auffen"/"awffen" (I am from the New York area)
     

    cubaMania

    Senior Member
    supercrom said:
    ... but I heard that in the US this pronunciation is less formal, so the formal version is /often/.
    Supercrom, as estadounidense I would seriously question your source for that information. I am among the majority who always pronounce it without the 't' and when I hear it pronounced with the 't' it definitely does not sound more formal to me. If anything, it sounds slightly underclass to me, though in the interest of not being snobby, I do my best to resist the impulse to judge.
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    cubaMania said:
    Supercrom, as estadounidense I would seriously question your source for that information. I am among the majority who always pronounce it without the 't' and when I hear it pronounced with the 't' it definitely does not sound more formal to me. If anything, it sounds slightly underclass to me, though in the interest of not being snobby, I do my best to resist the impulse to judge.
    Yo, como otro estadounidense, digo que estoy de acuerdo por completo con cubaMania. Cuando un estadounidense pronuncie la ''t'' en ''often'' me suena como si él estuviera equivocadamente tratando de apareser culto. Quizá eso pueda ser solamente el esnobismo que CubaMania está intentando de evitar. :) Al fin y al cabo ambas pronunciaciones estan en el Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary.
     

    gotitadeleche

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    And I, another estadounidense, always pronounce the 't' , and if the people around me don´t pronounce it, I have been blissfully unaware of that. I thought everyone pronounced the 't'.

    I just asked the secretary here, she says she does not pronounce it, but I never noticed, and she says she never noticed that I do pronounce it...
     

    charmedboi82

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Phryne said:
    My last linguistics teacher mentioned briefly in class that the pronunciation of "t" was considered as "overcorrection" (or some concept like that), which means that it was no pronounced for centuries and all of the sudden people included the [t] sound (again). I can't find my notes about that, or the term used in class, but I found this site that explains briefly what happened there.

    often_with_the_t_sound

    Also, from The free dictionary.com:

    Usage Note: During the 15th century English experienced a widespread loss of certain consonant sounds within consonant clusters, [...] the (t) in chestnut and often. In this way the consonant clusters were simplified and made easier to articulate. With the rise of public education and literacy and, consequently, people's awareness of spelling in the 19th century, sounds that had become silent sometimes were restored, as is the case with the t in often, which is now frequently pronounced. In other similar words, such as soften and listen, the t generally remains silent.

    I've always said [ofen], so I vote for that one.

    saludos :)
    Ditto. I've had many linguistics classes and heard much of the same. I, too, say 'ofen'. Adding the 't' doesn't fit with the pattern like in 'soften', etc. Of course, since when does English follow patterns?
     

    supercrom

    Banned
    Homo peruvianus, practising AE n' learning BE
    Citado de Gotita de Leche (gotitadeleche)
    And I, another estadounidense, always pronounce the 't' , and if the people around me don't pronounce it, I have been blissfully unaware of that. I thought everyone pronounced the 't'.

    I just asked the secretary here, she says she does not pronounce it, but I never noticed, and she says she never noticed that I do pronounce it...
    Thanks a lot, Gotita. You make me think that it's not an aware phenomenon.

    Citado de cubaMania y Edwin
    Supercrom, as estadounidense I would seriously question your source for that information. I am among the majority who always pronounce it without the 't' and when I hear it pronounced with the 't' it definitely does not sound more formal to me. If anything, it sounds slightly underclass to me, though in the interest of not being snobby, I do my best to resist the impulse to judge.

    Yo, como otro estadounidense, digo que estoy de acuerdo por completo con cubaMania. Cuando un estadounidense pronuncie la ''t'' en ''often'' me suena como si él estuviera equivocadamente tratando de apareser culto. Quizá eso pueda ser solamente el esnobismo que CubaMania está intentando de evitar. Al fin y al cabo ambas pronunciaciones estan en el Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary.
    I was told that by English-speaking people...

    Supercrom
     

    Whisky con ron

    Senior Member
    Venezuela / Español
    Edwin said:
    Yo, como otro estadounidense, digo que estoy de acuerdo por completo con cubaMania. Cuando un estadounidense pronuncia la ''t'' en ''often'' me suena como si él estuviera equivocadamente tratando de aparecer culto.
    Edwin: Te corregí dos letras. Now, a cuestion for you: If you hear a foreigner (Spanish speaker, probably) pronouncing the "t", would you think the same? That he/she is trying to appear as if he/she has a great knowledge of english [or even native]?

    Cheers
     

    supercrom

    Banned
    Homo peruvianus, practising AE n' learning BE
    Whisky con ron said:
    Edwin: Te corregí dos letras. Now, a question for you: If you hear a foreigner (Spanish speaker, probably) pronouncing the "t", would you think the same? That he/she is trying to appear as if he/she has a great knowledge of English [or even native]?

    Cheers
    Güisqui, también te corregí dos letras.

    I agree with you. My interest is specially for a non-native speaker: how he/she would pronounce this or that word.

    Supercrom
     

    Whisky con ron

    Senior Member
    Venezuela / Español
    Ah, well... I an non-native and I definitely pronounce the T... but my pronuntiation is nothing to go by, I tell you that! :)

    Yes, thanks.... question with Q :)
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    Whisky con ron said:
    Edwin: Te corregí dos letras. Now, a cuestion for you: If you hear a foreigner (Spanish speaker, probably) pronouncing the "t", would you think the same? That he/she is trying to appear as if he/she has a great knowledge of english [or even native]?

    Cheers
    Gracias por las correcciones!

    Whisky, la verdad es que como ha dicho Gotitadeleche, lo más probable es que yo no le haría caso a qualquier persona (extranjero o no) en cuanto al pronunciación de ''often". En todo caso si la notara, la respuesta de tu pregunta sería "no". Me parece que todos les dan más libertad de acción al respecto de manera de habla a los extranjeros.
     

    ojyram

    Senior Member
    USA English (Learning Spanish)
    I rarely pronounced it, but always thought the t in often should be pronounced. Then in 1973 in my students' phonics workbook, often was shown with a silent t. Thinking that was an error, I consulted Websters. Surprise! the t is silent. Now I say off'n without remorse.

    Another word with silent t is listen (lis'n).

    County is Another word in which "overcompensation" is now fashionable in the USA. It used to be cow nee, now all the movers and shakers say coun tee.
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    ojyram said:
    County is Another word in which "overcompensation" is now fashionable in the USA. It used to be cow nee, now all the movers and shakers say coun tee.
    A difference is that several online dictionaries show two pronuciations for often (with and without the t), but only one for county (with t).
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I think this is a geographical feature.
    I would pronounce the "t" in often, hasten, soften; but not in listen or fasten. Your challenge is to not appear to be exceptional on this one. So lissen carefully to how words such as this are pronounced wherever it is that you want to sound "native".
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    LadyBlakeney said:
    Often, fasten, hasten, soften... I just realized I pronounce all of them in a very funny way. I do not pronounce the "t" but I do place the tongue touching the ceiling of the mouth (as if I were going to pronounce it) and then I let out a soft, sudden and short puff of air through my nose, ending the word with an "n" sound (but keeping my tongue still).
    Hmmmmm It may well be more than geography.
    After hours of introspection, I have realise that although I think I pronounce the "t", I do exactly what LadyBlakeney describes above. I never pronounce the "..ten" bit as I would the word "ten", but I do that weird thing she describes so that the "t'n" bit is nasal. If only I could do phonetics:eek:
    But listen and fasten are definitely lissen and fassen.
    This is the vote from the Northern Ireland jury. Please plot me on your map.
    If not only geography, what else?
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    panjandrum said:
    Hmmmmm It may well be more than geography.
    After hours of introspection, I have realise that although I think I pronounce the "t", I do exactly what LadyBlakeney describes above. I never pronounce the "..ten" bit as I would the word "ten", but I do that weird thing she describes so that the "t'n" bit is nasal. If only I could do phonetics:eek:
    But listen and fasten are definitely lissen and fassen.
    This is the vote from the Northern Ireland jury. Please plot me on your map.
    If not only geography, what else?
    Puede ser geografía, por lo menos era así hace mucho, pero ahora --especialmente en EEUU-- estamos tan mezclados que me parece ya no se trata del lugar.
     

    LadyBlakeney

    Senior Member
    Spain
    Yay! Thanks Panjandrum, now I know I'm not alone. :D

    panjandrum said:
    Hmmmmm It may well be more than geography.
    After hours of introspection, I have realise that although I think I pronounce the "t", I do exactly what LadyBlakeney describes above. I never pronounce the "..ten" bit as I would the word "ten", but I do that weird thing she describes so that the "t'n" bit is nasal. If only I could do phonetics:eek:
    But listen and fasten are definitely lissen and fassen.
    This is the vote from the Northern Ireland jury. Please plot me on your map.
    If not only geography, what else?
     

    alc112

    Senior Member
    Argentina Spanish
    Mis profesoras de inglés me enseñaron que se pronuncia sin la t y que la e es muy corta, casi ni se la pronuncia. Aunque pueden estar equivocadas, no sé.
    Saludos
     

    supercrom

    Banned
    Homo peruvianus, practising AE n' learning BE
    Hi, Alexis!

    I was taught to pronounce without the T the same as listening, but I was heard a song with that word in an Australian word and it was pronounced with the T, then I heard other natives pronouncing the T, so I decided to ask...

    Supercrom
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This is SO bizarre.
    Having enjoyed this conversation immensely, I am suddenly compelled to ask two questions:
    (1) Why is a discussion about the pronunciation of English in a forum about Spanish Grammar?
    (2) How come I, a non-speaker of Spanish, found it?
     

    Aine

    Member
    Chile (Español)
    My english teacher used to say that in england the only ones who pronnounced "ofTen" are high-class people (or high-class wannabes) and gay people (no offense!) :p
     

    mhp

    Senior Member
    American English
    Sorry that I’ve not read the previous replies. As an AmE speaker, the pronunciation of T in often sounds like pure snobbery to me---definitely to be avoided. :)
     

    LaReinita

    Senior Member
    USA (Northeast Coast)-Inglés
    I've always said it with the "t," and so does the rest of my family (from New York) but It's interesting and slightly irritating to know that someone in this thread thinks that it sounds underclass. Why in the world do you think it sounds underclass? If anything, I would think it sounds more articulate.
     

    cubaMania

    Senior Member
    To me the pronunciation of "often" without the "t" sounds better. I think this is because, at least in USA, the non-T pronunciation is the older more traditional pronunciation*, and is still the more common one. The pronunciation with the "t", in my opinion, is a result of the phenomenon called "spelling pronunciation."
    A spelling pronunciation is a pronunciation that, instead of reflecting the way the word was pronounced by previous generations of speakers, is a rendering in sound of the word's spelling. Spelling pronunciations compete, often effectively, with the older traditional pronunciation.
    Because "often" is a short word which was tradionally pronounced differently than it is spelled, a portion of the population started pronouncing the word as it is spelled, rather than in the traditional way. Perhaps it might be considered either underclass or snobbish (or both!) because the phenomenon bears some resemblance to the phenomenon of hypercorrection in which the speaker's misguided attempt to follow a language rule which they do not understand causes them to make an error. It's not an exact analogy, but bears some similarity. Anyway, I think the newer pronunciation is now common enough that it really can no longer be considered non-standard, and so I myself accept "often" pronounced with the "t" as a second correct standard US pronunciation, even though I do not use it.

    *(and I'm old :rolleyes: )
     
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