One of the most difficult things in English is spelling and pronunciation. Because English is a mish mash of Latin, Old English, French, German, Greek… in fact every language in Europe.
There are a lot of odd spellings for words which originated from other languages.
As the pronunciation of these has become more ‘anglicized’ the pronunciation of the letter has been dropped but the spelling kept. For example, think about:
answer – dumb – gnash – gnome – knife – plumber – wrong
In fact in any word beginning with gn, kn or wr, the first letter is almost certainly silent!
There are loads of words in the English language like this, many ending in a silent ‘E’ (but not the magic ‘e’ which changes the pronunciation even if you don’t pronounce it).
Have a look at this (long) list of the most common words with redundant letters:
above, answer, appear, are, base, beauty, before, blow, blue, book, build, colour, come, correct, country, course, develop, does, done, door, early, earth, enough, every, eye, family, field, figure, flow, follow, foot, friend, full, give, good, govern, great, group, grow, have, head, heard, hour, house, island, knew, knife, know, laugh, learn, leave, listen, live, love, low, measure, minute, more, move, often, once, people, piece, pull, ready, room, rule, said, serve, several, show, slow, snow, some, stood, sure, their, there, though, through, thumb, took, true, watch, were, what, where, who, whole, wood, world, write, you, young, your.
Which letters are redundant in the above words?
Can you think of any more? (think about days of the week and months of the year)