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Author Topic: pronunciation of written Old English  (Read 4494 times)

Jayson

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pronunciation of written Old English
« on: December 13, 2016, 09:24:28 PM »
Was the pronunciation of written Old English as fluid as that of Modern English?   


For instance, we are told that if an e or i follows a c then the c is pronounced as 'ch' but take the OE word   acer   .   According to the OE rules, the word should be pronounced 'acher' but in modern English the word, which in both parts of the language means 'acre', is pronounced 'aker', so does that mean the pronunciation in Old English the word would also have been pronounced 'aker'?   If so, that would be at odds with the pronunciation we have been given.


Hope that makes sense!


And I also hope someone can give me an explanation!
Wessex Woman

David

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Re: pronunciation of written Old English
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2016, 10:58:53 PM »



In the standard West Saxon the word is æcer where the “c” is pronounced as a “k”. In West Germanic there was not a “ch” sound. However as West Germanic changed into Old English the “k” sound tended to change to a “ch” when it was next to an “i” or “e”. This did not happen in all cases immediately and tended to change later if it was also next to an “a”, “o” or “u”. A few never changed and æcer was one of these.

Jayson

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Re: pronunciation of written Old English
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2016, 06:49:53 PM »
---many thanks.   This had been puzzling me.   So, in a way, a 'ch' sound could also be turned into a 'k' sound?
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David

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Re: pronunciation of written Old English
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2016, 08:06:43 PM »
 
I do not think that “ch” sound ever changed to a “k” sound in Anglo-Saxon times. I was just saying that it took longer for the “k” to change into “ch” when it was also next to an “a”, “o” or “u”.
 
You might say that in some places “shirt” became “skirt” or “church” became “kirk” but that was the Old English being replaced by Norse.