Cup of T

Published 11th November 2011
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Cup of T

T is vital to the English language and is the second –most-often-occurring letter…but have you noticed how much thinner the T section of your dictionary is? This is because it occurs more often at the middle or the end of our words than at the beginning.
Note where your tongue sits when you say T and D; these two letters are phonetic ‘brothers’ and the sound of both is created through spurts of breath released from the tip of your tongue against the back of your front teeth…the only difference is that D engages the vocal chords and T does not. (Although in some country and western songs saddle can be rhymed with cattle!)

T’s tendency to occupy a position in the middle of words leaves it open to being softened or even left out. The Cockney accent swallows the T, for example in the word ‘bottle’, which leaves it with the pronunciation ‘bah-owe’. Words like ‘nation’ and ‘creature’ soften the T, and in ‘listen’ it disappears altogether! (Although this wasn’t always the case…)There are hundreds of words where T precedes the letter I plus a second vowel and in these instances T has acquired the sound ‘sh’; for instance, ‘inertia’, ‘patience’, ‘facetious’ etc.

There is a darker side to T with some sinister and daunting associations; the sign of the cross, the mark of Cain, the image of containment or suppression, the profile of a spike or a nail…

Here is a bit of light relief though; some unusual words beginning with T!

tachism painting by smearing or splattering
teleseism tremor due to a very distant earthquake
tephra ash and debris ejected by a volcano
terrene of the earth; earthly; wordly; mundane

Now, we’re going to sit down and have a cup of T after this blog. (well who’s missed the ea in tea eh!)

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