You may have said this today, in frustration perhaps, or in anger. Maybe it wasn’t quite as long as that. Maybe it was just a quick, cathartic Argh! I’m sure it’s something we’ve all said at least a few times in our lives. Did you ever wonder why it’s spelled in such a strange way though? Continue reading

Why don’t we usually Pronounce the Letter B after an M?

Good question, I’m very glad you asked. There are about ten words in English that end in –mb, but have a silent B. Off the top of my head, I can think of:

  • Bomb
  • Thumb
  • Lamb
  • Plumb
  • Limb
  • Tomb
  • Womb
  • Climb
  • Dumb
  • Jamb
  • Comb
  • Crumb

As you can see, it’s a fairly common phenomenon, but what’s the story behind it?

Continue reading

What Yacht?

Just  a short post tonight as it’s late, I’ve had three pints of delicious local Buried at Sea chocolate stout, and I’m quite tired after watching Ireland dramatically beat Italy in the European Championships to qualify for the next round.

I think those last two might be related actually…

Also, well done to Wales, Northern Ireland and England for also qualifying. And well done to Italy and my Italian friends who might be reading this: you still finished top of the group, though I’m not sure playing Spain is a fair reward for that!

Anyway, less football, more English. These last few days, there’s been quite a nice yacht in Galway docks and out sailing in the bay. Apparently it’s a superyacht, according to Google. Well. it’s certainly very nice. Seeing its mast over the rooftops of the Claddagh as I’ve walked to work in the mornings has made think again about how strange the word yacht is.


Look at it there, with a silent ch and not caring who knows about it! It’s the only modern English word with a silent ch.

Pronouncing ch as the old Greek /k/ as in charisma, character and psyche? No problem.

Or with a soft, swishy French /ʃ/ as in machine, chef or machete? Oui, bien sûr!

But a silent ch!? It takes a really special word to get away with that. A word like yacht. Continue reading