The Silent “B”

Words like “dumb,” “comb,” and “tomb” all carry a silent “B” at the end of it. That’s the case when you ask me. Ask my wife, she’ll tell you something different.

Jenny is a stickler when it comes to pronouncing words correctly. She has the emergency hotline to Merriam-Webster saved in her phone on speed dial. When it comes to pronouncing words with a silent “B” on its ass, she’s unwilling to part with her Filipino way of speaking.

I understand why the mute B appears whenever Jenny speaks these words. Which, surprisingly, she brings up often.

For example:

“Timmybee you’re so dumb. Why did you put my comb in the wrong place? I’m going to put you in your tomb.”

That’s a weekly conversation we have.

silent b
Believe me, I don’t want to argue with this intense face.

Jenny isn’t the only one to add the silent B. We’re big fans of Buzzfeed Unsolved on YouTube. One of the hosts, another Filipino, refuses to drop the B-sound. My guess is that this is a Filipino thing.

We’ve already researched the pronunciation of these words. For a change, I was the victor. This does, however, beg the question, why have the B at all?

I understand a silent letter in the middle of a word. At the beginning or end, it’s quite ridiculous. One could even call it dum (the way the word should be spelled).

silent b
How does this picture fit the post? Well, I was pretty dumB and decided to lie in the snow even though my ass was hanging out. Big mistake.

As she explained to me recently, the Filipino languages spell things phonetically. English does not follow this simple rule. We have bullshit words like mnemonic. Disregarding the unnecessary “M” at the front, the word is still poorly constructed. I don’t blame the Chinese for going with Mandarin instead. With words like these, I too want to speak something else.

When you get to a certain age, the way you pronounce words will not change. Unless, of course, you’re terribly embarrassed by another person.

Back in my college years, which were far less interesting than the “College Years” of any television spin-off, I had to make a video for class. In one video, I interviewed a musician. A question asked to him was about the music’s genre. Rather than pronouncing it correctly, I said the word “genre” as “ja-nair.” I’m not sure where I learned this (American public school). But the embarrassment I faced when the mispronunciation was captured on film forever taught me how to properly say that grossly confusing word.

filipino language
As if I’d get fooled again…(click the picture to see the video of me getting fooled again)

Generally, I’m not the type of person to negatively judge others for saying words incorrectly. It’s only when they begin using the wrong terms that I feel the need to crush them.

Jenny can turn the silent B into a noisy one until the cows come home. If she ever says “Until the crows come back” I may have an issue. We all need a line. Mine is drawn at blatant stupidity, not a slip of the tongue. Have you felt those things? They’re very slippery.


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