Tuesday, December 4, 2012

often: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Tuesday, December 4, 2012

People striving for sophistication often pronounce the T in this word, but true sophisticates know that the masses are correct in saying “offen.”

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  1. But is "offen" correct? This needs explanation.

    1. Sorry. I meant to say: Why is "offen" correct?

    2. You can look here for the history of it: http://bit.ly/Zj4Omr

      ...which points out that the T in "often" has a similar history to the T in "soften." Elsewhere you will find it compared to "listen."

      On the other hand, as Merriam-Webster points out, "there can be no objective standard for correct pronunciation other than the usage of thoughtful and, in particular, educated speakers of English. Among such speakers one hears much variation in pronunciation." (http://bit.ly/VQ15Vu)

      I would argue that leaving out the T in pronouncing "often" is preferred among educated speakers; however, it is true that many educated speakers of English include the T in pronouncing it. Be aware that most pronunciation advice favors dropping the T (but also allow that including the T is not rare).

  2. Interesting, never heard of that. I disagree, I don't think this applies in singing.