non-pronouncing letters

Salida   Monday, September 27, 2004, 17:38 GMT
How might you explain to a colleague the idea that, when human speak, we are not pronouncing letters? There are several ways to do this; Could you tell me ,at least, two approaches.
Mxsmanic   Monday, September 27, 2004, 18:11 GMT
Written language using alphabets and syllabaries is only an approximate representation of the spoken language, because spoken languages drift much more quickly than written languages.
Easterner   Monday, September 27, 2004, 21:51 GMT
Writing is used to represent spoken language, and in this attempt it may not take account of all the phonetic peculiarities, much less reflect inevitable changes in pronunciation. Speech is possible without writing, but writing without speech is like a code without a clue, which proves that it is only secondary to speech. Even when native speakers read texts aloud, they do not "pronounce" the written letters, but the words as they exist in their head, as they "hear" them inside (this of course is not always the case with non-native speakers :-) ). In a psychological sense therefore, writing serves to "bring up" the words in your mind.
D   Tuesday, September 28, 2004, 00:46 GMT
The best way to see that language does not require written letters is
to notice that until the 20th century the majority of the world's population
could not read but they could still speak. High literacy rates are only
present in a small number of countries. The illiteracy rate in India in 2000
was 44% and the total population was 1 billion. That makes 440 million
illiterate Indians -- they're not all mute!
Mxsmanic   Tuesday, September 28, 2004, 05:02 GMT
Even in the U.S., the functional illiteracy rate is about 33%, although very few people are totally illterate (unable to read the alphabet).

The higher the illiteracy rate, the faster the spoken language changes, and the more it diverges from the written language. Only in the past hundred years or so has literacy become common enough to stabilize pronunciation a bit, as D observes.
Sanja   Tuesday, September 28, 2004, 14:56 GMT
We don't pronounce letters, we pronounce sounds and write letters. LOL :)