Many world would to speak the C in words prefer "scent" and also "science" is silent, however when friend look right into the background of English spelling, you find multiple reasons "sc" have the right to be pronounced various ways.

You are watching: S or c silent in scent


*

The Quick and Dirty The C that SC is what us usually contact a “silent letter” in the situation of words choose "science" and also "scent,” however there’s more to the story when you look right into the history of English words. A far better answer is to say that the SC in “science“ makes an S sound, favor the monosi /s/.


A listener called Edwin dubbed in v this question:At the beginning of the words choose "scent" and also “science," i beg your pardon letter is in reality the silent letter? I want to speak it's a C, however I understand in “science” the C at the finish of that additionally sounds favor S.The brief answer is the in words choose "science" and "scent," SC is pronounced choose an /s/ phoneme, or a unit the sound. Some phonemes come are represented by solitary letters, favor the S-sound in “sat,” and also others are stood for by combinations of letters prefer the SH-sound in “shin.”
The lengthy answer is the SC-words have a tricky background in English. If they’re old sufficient to have actually been approximately in Old English, castle were more than likely pronounced favor our contemporary SH-words: "shin" was spelled S-C-I-N, and also a "sheath" for her sword would be spelled S-C-E-A-T-H. Every now and then, several of them retained their C’s but also sound like SH-words now: “omnscience” and “prescient,” or periodically they sound prefer CH: “conscience” and also “conscious.” A couple of added one H after the SC and also made it just sound choose SK: “schizophrenia” and also “schism.” and also a very few words make it sound as with S: “science,” “rescind,” “descent,” and the Massachusetts coastal town dubbed “Scituate.”Every now and then, you obtain a team of words where you deserve to see fairly a bit of variation: "fish" and "pisces" both come from a root pertained to Latin “piscis” (which is spelled v an SC in the middle) "Pescatarian" comes from the same root. That’s the word for someone that eats fish but not various other meat. And also "porpoise" i beg your pardon literally means “pig fish”comes from “porcus,” the origin of "pork," plus “piscis,” the origin of "fish."If the SC indigenous is brand-new enough and also wasn’t about when Old English was spoken, climate the C is there for a very different reason. ~ Old English had turned into Middle English, we got the native "scent" but it to be spelled S-E-N-T together in the connected word “sense" (as in “Sense and also Sensibility”). The C was added hundreds of year later, after middle English had turned into modern-day English, probably due to the fact that it was affected by words choose "descent" and “ascend,” i m sorry both have C’s in the middle.So yes, the C the SC is what us usually contact a “silent letter” in the instance of words choose "science" and "scent,” yet there’s much more to the story once you look right into the history of English words. A much better answer is come say the the SC in “science“ renders an S sound, prefer the phoneme /s/. However as you can see, this letter mix can vary depending on the background of each word — as do countless letter combinations found in the English language.Image courtesy ofShutterstock.

See more: Buy Savage 410 22 Over Under Shotgun, Savage Model 24


Kate Whitcomb is a linguist and teacher with levels in psycholinguistics and also cognitive neuroscience. Girlfriend can find her at thelaymanslinguist.com.