We all know they exist, but we don’t speak of them. They are used everyday, but we dare not say them aloud. Their very existence requires us to be silent. And we comply without question. Most of them have no reason to be. They serve no useful purpose, but we accept that they are part of our lives. We write their names, but we don’t say them to anyone. If we ever slip up, do the unspeakable, and actually say their names aloud, we will be mocked and surely corrected. We expect everyone to conform; there are no exceptions. Efforts have been made to systematically eradicate them, but to no avail. They are still with us in our schools, work, and even our homes.
We could all get along just fine without them, although without them we would have no roads or signs. Buildings with columns would no longer exist. Wednesday would no longer be the middle of our work week. And nobody would be able to walk a straight line.
On the other hand, there would be no more pneumonia, no more dumb people. Children would never again stretch the truth.
What forces us into this superfluous silence?
It is the silent letter. And while some silent letters help us to pronounce a word correctly, most do nothing more than take up space. As far as I can tell, every letter in the English language is used as a silent letter – every letter that is except for the mighty “V”. V stands alone in victory against this unspoken foe. I compiled the list below of the rest of the letters of the English alphabet along with one corresponding word with a silent letter.
x faux pas