During the holiday I spent much of my time on a local discussion forum, reading and discussing topics regarding the English language. One question that was raised again and again by local students was this: Why does the ‘p’ in spy sound somewhat different from the ‘p’ in pie, and in fact, for Chinese speakers, the same as ‘b’ in buy?
The magical silent ‘e’
We all know that the final ‘e’ is almost always not pronounced, so ‘bite’, ‘ripe’, tape’ and ’shote’ are all monosyllabic words – there is only one vowel. Nevertheless, the ‘e’ at the end of all these words is definitely not useless, as it helps us pronounce these words correctly, and distinguish them from ‘bit’, ‘rip’, ‘tap’ and ’shot’ respectively.