words without vowels(Words Frequently Sought)
When I was 6 years old, my schoolmistress said, "There are no words in the English language that have no vowels. To anyone who can tell me a word with no vowels, I'll give threepence." I raised my hand and said, "Shhh." The mistress looked at me very contemptuously and said, "He thinks 'shhh' is a word. But it isn't; it's just a sound that people make." A couple of weeks later, the mistress asked the class, "Has anyone thought of a word without any vowels yet?" Another little boy raised his hand and said, "My. Try. Sky." "No," replied the mistress, "'y' is a vowel there. But I'll give you threepence anyway, because you've been thinking." After all these years, I *still* think my example was better than that other little boy's. I WANT MY THREEPENCE! The word "vowel" has more than one meaning. From MWCD10: # 1: one of a class of speech sounds in the articulation of which # the oral part of the breath channel is not blocked and is not # constricted enough to cause audible friction; broadly : the one # most prominent sound in a syllable 2: a letter or other symbol # representing a vowel -- usu. used in English of a, e, i, o, u, and # sometimes y Children are usually taught sense 2, because meaning 1 would be harder for them to grasp. But since sense 2 is not that *useful* except as a rough approximation to sense 1 (and on the U.S. TV show _Wheel of Fortune_), "words without vowels" in sense 2 (such as "cwm", "nth", "Mrs.", and "TV") are not terribly interesting. Words without vowels in sense 1 (such as "shhh", "psst", and "mm-hmm") *are* interesting, because they tell us something about the phonology of the language.
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