Matthew WHO?

Have you ever wondered why English has those double letters (like double "T") in the middle, or at the ends, of words?

I was watching the Giro d'Italia today on VEO7, and one of the announcers kept mispronouncing the name of Matthew Lloyd, the Australian cyclist. "Lloyd" is one of several last names which begin with double "L" (almost all of them are from Wales), and one of the only cases when you would see a double consonant at the beginning of words in English. This is different from Spanish, where "LL" and "RR" aren't really common at the beginning of words, but you can see them in some words (like Lleida).

So why do we have double consonants in English, if they don't represent a different sound?

Double consonants that are in the middle of words are where you separate syllables. Think of these two-syllable adjectives: fun·ny, sil·ly, hap·py, Fin·nish, com·mon: In each case, you would break the word in between the double consonants.

The same is true if the word has more than two syllables. This is especially true of words that are formed with suffixes: hap·pi·ness, in·suf·fer·able, bar·ris·ter, con·som·mé (meat broth), cor·res·pon·dence.

Double consonants (especially -ss) also happen frequently at the ends of words: kiss, miss, bliss. They're also extremely common at the ends of surnames: Pratt, Raitt, Schnurr, Flynn, Dunn.

And don't forget that if you need to put a suffix on the end of a verb that ends in a noun/consonant combination, you need to double the final consonant, too:
stop: stopped, stopping
counsel: counselled, counselling
travel: travelled, travelling
kid (=joke with someone): kidded, kidding
(**Note that the double -l only happens in British spelling, not American spelling.)

So if you're pronouncing a name like "Lloyd" or "Llewellyn, it's pronounced "loid", not "zloid."

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