Words and, er, more words

If you’ve been following this blog for long, you know I like word games. Sometimes they’re not even real “games” per se, just seeing what I can do with words. I’m still having fun with my Tranagrams (see my post from February 27) – I didn’t stick to just one set a day sometimes, so I’m up to over 120 sets of anagrams. (My favorite so far is PLEATS/PASTEL/PLATES/STAPLE/PETALS/PALEST, but then I discovered I had already used three of those words previously, so I just added the three new ones.)

Last night while trying to get to sleep, somehow my mind latched onto the fact that when you add “er” at the end of “should,” the pronunciation of the first syllable changes significantly as you say “shoulder.” So I started trying to think of other words that do the same.

First, there are quite a few words where only one sound changes. For instance, add “er” to “writ” and you get “writer,” which changes the vowel sound from short to long, but the consonant sounds stay the same. Add “er” to “hind” and you change the vowel sound from long to short to get “hinder,” but still the consonant sounds stay the same.

On the other hand, if you add “er” to “lath” you get “lather,” which has the same vowel sound but the consonant sound goes from “soft th” to “hard th.” When you add “er” to “limb” the silent “b” is no longer silent, but the rest of the sounds are unchanged.

Other words that fit this pattern are:

flow + er = flower
glow + er = glower
tow + er = tower
bit + er = biter
lit + er = liter

In going from “should” to “shoulder,” though, not only the vowel sound changes but also the “l” goes from being silent to being heard. So I’m trying to come up with words like that, where at least two sounds change. So far I’ve come up with the following:

both + er = bother
moth + er = mother
broth + er = brother

What can you add to my list?

5 Responses to Words and, er, more words

  1. Margaret Packard says:

    We often think alike. I think it was about a year ago that I was in the bathroom and noticed the Head & Shoulders bottle sitting on the tub, but the “ers” was not visible and I made the same realization you did. I then tried thinking of words that also made a similar change in pronunciation. But I didn’t bother to write them down, or I have lost my list. (I often think of these words in bed and am too tired to bother getting pencil and paper.) But now that you have put out the challenge, I shall have to respond.

  2. Margaret Packard says:

    Here’s one: rang + er = ranger

  3. Margaret Packard says:

    Also: sag + er = sager, and wag + er = wager. And: bath + er = bather, and us + er = user.

  4. Pauline says:

    I thought of rang/ranger and wag/wager as I was falling asleep earlier (I stayed home sick today), but I could only remember wag/wager when I woke up.

    Now that Margaret has reminded me, I also thought of dang + er = danger and hug + er = huger.

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