Silent letters….The shy, quiet sad little letters that have no sound or no say in the word they belong to. There are so many words in the English language with these letters. One of the reasons for having so many silent letters is because many words come from old french and from latin and a lot of letters in those words aren’t pronounced. The transfer to English results in silent letters to just fill the space.
Often these letters help to indicate the origin of the word. For example, the word Doubt has a silent B. This word’s origin lies with Old French Doute which in turn has it’s root from the Latin Dubitare or Dubius. But when you take a new word into a language you use it from it’s most recent recent source which in this case is french.
Similarly, many other words with silent letters can trace their origins to a different source; like Knoll from Dutch, Wrap from middle english, Debt from old French and Latin, Write from old English and German, Aisle from French etc and the never ending list continues.
Pretty fascinating to study etymology and origins of words you use everyday and don’t even think about. An interesting read: ‘Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto’. This gives a wonderful understanding and connection between different words and how they originate and their common roots.