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English - Known & Unknow

What is the difference between “while” and “whilst”?

As far as meaning is concerned there is no difference between the two words; they can be used interchangeably. “Whilst” is considered by some people to be rather old-fashioned. It is mainly used in British English; Americans seldom use it. I understand that even within Britain, “whilst” is more common in the north than in the south. As far as the pronunciation is concerned, the final ‘st’ of ‘whilst’ is pronounced. Here are some examples.

* The Police entered the former Chief Minister's house while/whilst he was sleeping.
* Shakunthala called up while/whilst I was having dinner.

Who is a “psephologist”?

First, let's deal with the pronunciation. The first ‘p’ is silent. The ‘se’ in the first syllable sounds like the ‘se’ in ‘set’, ‘sent’, and ‘sell’. The ‘ph’ is pronounced like the ‘f’ in ‘fit’, ‘feet’, and ‘food’. The vowel ‘o’ is like the ‘o’ in ‘got’, ‘not’, and ‘lot’. The ‘o’ in the third syllable sounds like the ‘a’ in ‘China’ and the following ‘g’ is like the ‘j’ in ‘jam’. You can probably guess how the final ‘ist’ is pronounced. It is the second syllable which has the main stress.

Psephology is the scientific study of the way in which people vote in elections. A ‘psephologist’ therefore is someone who studies how people vote - he comes up with the statistics, the trends, etc. These are the people you see on TV during elections telling us about the ‘swing factor’, etc.

* Several psephologists were interviewed a day before the elections.
* My cousin Mohan wants to be a psephologist when he grows up.
* How does one become a psephologist?

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