Real Spellers

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Hello Everyone,
I am working on the / /ɑ̄ / sound with students this week. Yet, I am stumped on one word. Why is there a silent-e on the end of the word taste? My understanding is that a silent-e only jumps over one consonant sound. I believe there is a reason for this silent-e yet I can not seem to find it in cyberspace. I am new to word investigation, so if this is an obvious answer, my apologies.
I covet any information anyone can provide me regarding this word.
Thank you,
Krissy Bennett

Comments (5)

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Thanks so much for your question Krissy, and Matt for your response with that great information from the Tool Box. Can you point out what Theme that was from?

This part was particularly helpful. I've bolded a couple bits I think are key to attend to...

- a final single non-syllabic < e >
- that is not a grapheme or part of one
- may be signalling that a previous single-letter vowel grapheme,
- from which it is separated by one or two consonant graphemes
- is orthographically ‘long’.

Firstly, we need to see that word "may" is essential!
Secondly, I don't remember this clear statement that this final, non-syllabic <e> can signal that a previous single-letter grapheme is "orthographically long" when it is separated by one or two consonant graphemes. That this "orthographic marker" <e> can provide that phonological system even when their are two consonant graphemes between that <e> and the single-letter vowel grapheme certainly seems to be supported by the evidence you point to - and I've long thought about how to articulate that pattern.

And sometimes, we can easily see a second function of that marker <e> when we look at pairs like <breath> and <breathe> or <bath> and <bathe>. In those words that <e> is signalling the phonology of the single vowel letter grapheme and also distinguishing words that would otherwise be homographs.

Great stuff!

Peter Bowers
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It was from Theme 1D.

Matt
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Hi, Kelly,
Great question! I'm sure some others will weigh in with better answers, but to get you started, here is a snippet from the Toolbox that I think is relevant to your question. I hope it helps.

Signalling ‘long’ vowels in free base elements

The final single non-syllabic < e > of a base element can be (but is not necessarily) signalling that the previous vowel phoneme is to be taken as ‘long’. Here is a statement of the application of this function of final < e >

In free monosyllabic base elements,

  • a final single non-syllabic < e >
  • that is not a grapheme or part of one
  • may be signalling that a previous single-letter vowel grapheme,
  • from which it is separated by one or two consonant graphemes
  • is orthographically ‘long’.

Note well!

  • This function of final non-syllabic < e > only necessarily applies to monosyllabic free bases in the construction of their underived simple form.
  • As we have seen, final non-syllabic < e > may well be performing one of its several non-phonological functions in a base element.

Do not assume that all cases of single final non-syllabic < e > in base elements are performing this phonological function of signalling a previous ‘long’ vowel.

Consider, for example, these spellings.

give one come

There are other cases in which the final < e > may simultaneously be performing both its phonological function and a conventional function.

For instance, in < have > the final < e > is not phonological; the pronunciation of this free monosyllabic underived base is not *[heɪv] with ‘long A’. The final < e > of this simple free base element is conforming to the convention that complete English words do not have final < v >.

On the other hand, the pronunciation of this base is [heɪv] in the derivation < behave >, so the final < e > in this derived spelling might be regarded as fulfilling both the final < v > convention as well as its phonological function.

Comment was last edited about 1 month ago by Matt Matt
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Here are some other words (thanks to the Word Searcher!) that fit that long vowel - 2 consonants - single, final, non-syllabic < e > pattern:
ache
baste
bathe
waste
haste
lathe
lithe
mange
range
tithe
change
chaste
clothe

Comment was last edited about 1 month ago by Matt Matt
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Thank you both so much. Your feedback was helpful.
Krissy Bennett

Krissy Bennett
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