What’s a fricative?

A fricative is movement made when we form words or syllables in our mouths.

Sometimes they are silent and other times they are not.

A fricative is created when our tongue moves air around in our mouths. I bet you didn’t know there was a term for that!

Fricatives usually refer to consonants more than vowels.

A fun way to explain some of those silent letters in English

Let’s see how fricatives work

When we make the ‘th’ sound we bring our tongue behind the top teeth at the front and we add pressure.

When the tongue is released or slackened it makes the ‘th’ sound.

Try making the ‘v’ then the ‘f’ sound slowly.

The slower you do it the more you’ll understand the process of fricatives.

Do you notice how differently your tongue moves around your mouth?

What about those extra letters we use to spell with?

Fricatives are the reason why we have many extra letters in English words.

Words like ‘right’, ‘might’ or ‘light’ are all great examples of fricatives at work.

The ‘gh’ represents a silent fricative.

When the monks were writing down the English language hundreds of years ago they used different spellings to demonstrate how words should be pronounced.

You have to remember this was done when most people couldn’t read or write.

A fun way to explain some of those extra letters in some English words
Share fricatives with your grandchildren

The role of ‘gh’ in ‘ight’ words is to demonstrate how your tongue should move around your mouth.

Let’s take the word ‘light’.

Start by making the ‘l’ sound – your tongue should be resting on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth.

Then curls your tongue around to make the ‘i’ sound.

To ensure that it rest back on the roof of your mouth, but a little further forward the monks insisted on adding ‘gh’ in front of the ‘t’.

The ‘gh’ is a silent fricative. It has a very important role to play and we shouldn’t remove it by spelling words phonetically.

Some people think we should change the spelling of these words so ‘light’ becomes ‘lite’.

What do you think?

While the reason why fricatives exist is not needed anymore should we keep them to honor the history of our language or move with the times and get rid of them?


A fun way to explain some of those extra letters in English words
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