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Why are the letters “s”, “t”, “p”, “d” (a mnemonic is to remember consonants in "stupid") silent when final — without a “e” at the end? I'm really confused. Any reasonable explanation is appreciated.

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Laure, Francois Borgies, Un francophone, Romain VALERI, M42 Jun 2 at 10:58

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Your question isn't clear. Do you mean final consonants? Can you give examples ? "Stupid" is not a French word (it is always stupide) so there's no way we would pronounce it. Final consonants are not always silent, whether word stands on its own (e.g. in some of the meanings of plus) or when liaised with the following word. –  Laure Jun 2 at 5:51
    
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@Laure, you are missing the "STuPiD" mnemonic. –  jlliagre Jun 2 at 7:55
    
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I'm always uncomfortable with "why" questions. The answer is "the language evolved so". You probably could come with some linguistic or phonological rules, but those would probably more describe than explain the evolution of the language. And I always wonder if it is the intended subject of the question. –  Un francophone Jun 2 at 11:56

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Your question is clearly expressed but there is no point looking for a reasonable explanation. Unlike say Spanish and German for example, but like English, there is no strict rule to phonetically convert written French to spoken French and only experience will help you learning the usual exceptions to whatever rule you might be teached, including the "STuPiD" one.

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While there are difficult words, written french to pronounced french is pretty straightforward, especially compared to English (look in a dictionary aimed to native speakers and see how few words have phonetic marks, compare with an English dictionary aimed to English native speakers). The other direction is more problematic. –  Un francophone Jun 2 at 12:00
    
Did you mean to post this as a comment? –  Édouard Jun 2 at 15:40
    
@Unfrancophone English might be indeed even more irregular than French. That doesn't change my point which is you cannot know for sure how to pronounce (some) French words just by seeing how they are written. There is no such uncertainty with Spanish and German. –  jlliagre Jun 2 at 21:49
    
@jlliagre it's not "might" : English is mostly irregular, while French is mostly regular. The fact that s, t, p, d are silent when no vowels follow is a standard rule in French. –  Shautieh Oct 21 at 12:41

The historical answer to this question is: the "e" at the end of a word used to be pronounced (and it still is in certain phonological contexts, ranging from rarely to often, depending on the dialect, with rarely being more common). French speakers stopped pronouncing word-final "s, t, p, d" at some point, but in a word like "côte" the t was not at the time the final sound of the word. Later, the "e" became silent (in all standard dialects).

At this point, the sound change eliminating word-final consonants had already been completed, so that one still hears the "t" of "côte." Note that French poetry and formal music requires one to pronounce final "e" in most positions, because the composition rules come from a time that this was more common, at least in elevated speech. (I find that in French pop, the singer pronounces the /e/ if and only if it helps the singer fit the right number of syllables into the rhyme!).

By the way, a similar change happened in English -- a long time ago the vowels in "rate" and "rat" were the same, and the difference between the two words was that the "e" in "rate" was pronounced as a separate syllable. Then, we got a phonological rule lengthening the "a" in the presence of the "e" in the next syllable. Then, we lost the "e", then we had a "great English vowel shift," and now the spelling is very far from the pronunciation!

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