sc as in scent

abscess

adolescent

ascend

ascertain

ascetic

convalescent

corpuscle

crescent

descend

discern

disciple

discipline

effervescent

fascinate

fluorescent (UK), florescent (US)

incandescent

irascible

isosceles

luminescent

miscellaneous

muscle

obscene

obsolescent

oscillate

Pisces

plebiscite

quiescent

reminiscence

rescind

resuscitate

scene

scenery

scent

scenario

sceptre (UK), scepter (US)

science

scimitar

scintillate

scion

scissors

scythe

susceptible

transcend

 

9 thoughts on “sc as in scent

  1. Leanne James

    Hi, would love to know why these words have the sc grapheme instead of ss. It appears to to keep the vowel short. Is it because it is derived from Latin/Greek and they didn’t double the s? Would love to explain the ‘why’ to my son. Thanks Alison. I love your blogs!!

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Leanne, I think a lot of words with sc in English pronounced /s/ are based on words in source languages that contained an sc or sk, for example the Etymology online website (http://www.etymonline.com) says of “science” that it’s from Latin scientia “knowledge, a knowing; expertness,” from sciens (genitive scientis) “intelligent, skilled,” present participle of scire “to know,” probably originally “to separate one thing from another, to distinguish,” related to scindere “to cut, divide,” from PIE root *skei- “to cut, to split” (source also of Greek skhizein “to split, rend, cleave,” Gothic skaidan, Old English sceadan “to divide, separate;” see schizo-). Maybe your son would like to look up some other sc words on this website and see what it says? Alison

      Reply
    2. Peter Oram

      SC follows the same guideline as C and G – the sound depends partly on the following vowel. If the following vowel is A, O, or U, the C is “hard” like K.
      scan, escape, scone, score, scum, scuff
      (If you find an English word that doesn’t conform to this guideline, I will donate AUD50 to charity.)

      If the following vowel is E or I it’s more likely to be a “soft” sound like S.
      scent, scene, science, prescient
      (I can’t think of any counter examples right now. I think the letter K is used in Old English words with that sound, e.g. skip, ski, skeet, sketch.

      Compare C alone:
      cat, cent, city, cot, cut (There might be old-English exceptions for “ce” and “ci”, but I challenge you to find an exception for “ca”, “co” or “cu”.)

      And G alone:
      gave, gent, agile, got, gut
      There are numerous exceptions where “ge” and “gi” are hard, such as get, give… but as far as I know there are only two exceptions with other letters: margarine, gaol. (Is “mortgage” an exception, or do we consider TG the spelling for the G sound?)

      Reply
      1. alison Post author

        Hi Peter, Yes, true, I have a blog post about some of this (www.spelfabet.com.au/2015/04/c-that-sounds-like-s). Would the UK spelling of ‘sceptic’ (US skeptic) trigger a $50 donation to the Red Cross bushfire appeal? The initial-sk words are mostly of Old Norse/Scandinavian origin, e.g. ‘skate’, ‘skill’, ‘skin’, and ‘skirt’ is from Old Norse while ‘shirt’ (spelt ‘scyrte’ in Old English) is from Anglo-Saxon, of course both originally based on the same Indo-European word. The SC in Old English morphed into SH over time in many words, for example ‘scip’ became ‘ship’. I learnt a lot of this stuff from the History of English podcast which I highly recommend, it’s fascinating (another sc word).

        CI often now represents /sh/ before Latin suffixes, as in musician, artificial, delicious. In words borrowed from Italian, C is often a /ch/ sound as in cello, Botticelli. Re your challenge, what about facade, garcon and curacao? Yes, I know the C is meant to have a cedilla but these days it is often dropped in English.

        Re GE, GI and GY, I have a list of words with this spelling pronounced as a velar stop (as in girl, get, begin) in the right-hand column of this page: http://www.spelfabet.com.au/spelling-lists/sorted-by-sound/g/g-as-in-got. The only other pattern-breaking word like ‘gaol’ and ‘margarine’ that I know of is the truncated word ‘veg’ as in ‘fruit and veg’ or ‘veg out’, which in final position in theory should be a velar stop, see http://www.spelfabet.com.au/spelling-lists/sorted-by-sound/j/g-as-in-gel. ‘Mortgage’ is a funny word, as it comes from French and the ‘mort’ part means ‘dead’ with the final “t” not pronounced, but we do say a /t/ in other words with this root like ‘mortal’, ‘mortuary’ and ‘amortise’. I’ve tried be strict with Occam’s Razor when setting up my word lists, so I’ve put mortgage with ballet, crochet and sorbet on this list: http://www.spelfabet.com.au/spelling-lists/sorted-by-sound/no-sound/t-as-in-ballet. But the reason the medial t is not pronounced is a morphological/etymological one, not a phonotactic or orthotactic one.

        Reply
  2. Leanne James

    Thanks Alison,

    This makes a lot of sense – separate, divide is in the meaning of most of the /sc/ words on your list:

    Scissors (used to divide)
    Discipline (work in a different discipline)
    Scenario (separate version)
    Pisces (the two fish)
    Descend, Ascend, Transcend (all moving a way from something)
    Rescind (taking your vote away)
    etc etc

    It is very similar to the /wr/ grapheme – they all mean to wrap or twist. Even the word ‘wrong’ on etymology online indicates that it is from old English and means a crooked (eg twisted).

    Fascinating isn’t it. I find this helps my son so much. Kids really need to know the why behind words!

    Reply
  3. Cameron B

    Thanks for this, it really helped. I made fun of my friend by mispronouncing the words incorrectly, because he unintentionally mispronounced miscellaneous. I plan on continuing to do it in the future.

    Reply
  4. Tatyana

    I am very grateful for this particular list. I have only found 6 words with this sc sounding as s, and with your help my son will be able to learn more than 30!
    I would also add scenery (which is of course related to scene) and crescent.

    Reply

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