Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Let me make this very clear: The “t” in “often” is silent. Silent, as in not spoken.
Offen. Not Off-ten.
UPDATE: I should have cited no less an authority than the great Sir W. S. Gilbert to back me up. Quote:
Gen. Stanley (aside): Hah! An idea! (Aloud.) And do you mean to say that you would deliberately rob me of these, the sole remaining props of my old age, and leave me to go through the remainder of my life unfriended, unprotected, and alone ?
Pirate King: Well, yes, that’s the idea.
Gen.: Tell me, have you ever known what it is to be an orphan?
Pirates (disgusted): Oh, dash it all!
King: Here we are again!
Gen.: I ask you, have you ever known what it is to be an orphan?
Gen.: Yes, orphan. Have you ever known what it is to be one?
King: I say, often.
All (disgusted): Often, often, OFTEN!
Gen: Eh, ah, I don’t think we quite understand one another. When you said “orphan,” did you mean “orphan ” — a person who has lost his parents, or “often ” — frequently ?
King: Ah! I beg pardon — I see what you mean — frequently.
Gen.: Ah! you said often — frequently.
King: No! Only once.
Gen.: Exactly! You said often, frequently, only once.
– The Pirates of Penzance, Act I, Scene somewhere toward the end. It’s a cheap joke, but it simply wouldn’t work if there was a “t” sound in “often”. So there.