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Author Topic: Pronunciation of G and C  (Read 8823 times)

Æðelstān

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Pronunciation of G and C
« on: March 06, 2015, 04:49:08 PM »
Hello,
I'm starting to learn OE, but the pronunciation of the letters 'G' and 'C' are haulting my progress. Could anyone help me with their pronunciations because different sources are conflicting?

David

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2015, 06:17:27 PM »
It appears that the englisc “c” is pronounced as the English “k”. The englisc “g” is pronounced as the English “g” if it appears at the beginning of words or immediately after the letter “n”. In other positions it is pronounced as a guttural “g”. The englisc combination “cg” is pronounced as the English “j”.

Then there is the palatal englisc “c” pronounced as English “ch” and the palatal englisc “g” pronounced as English “y”. Nowadays some of us write them as “ċ” and “ġ”. Unfortunately the Anglo-Saxons did not use these accents. The Anglo-Saxons sometimes used an alternative spelling with an “e” , or in some dialects an “i”, immediately after the “c” or “g” to show it has been palatised. So the alternative spelling þyncean tells us that to seem is “þynċan”.

The “g” is usually palatised next to an “i/ī” or “e/ē” and sometimes next to an “æ/ǣ” or “y/ӯ”. The “c” is similar but the unpalatised “c” is also common next to an “e/ē”. Not everyone agrees on the pronunciation of some words, did the Anglo-Saxons?

In some words the pronunciation of the word depends on the case so we have
bōc but bēċ
dæġ but dagas
dīċ but dīcas
ġeat but gatu    etc.
For the plural of ċiriċe I have seen both ċiriċan and ċirican

Some books that use the dots are
Reading Old English  by  Robert Hasenfratz and Thomas Jambeck
Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Primer
A Guide to Old English  by  Bruce Mitchell and Fred Robinson
« Last Edit: March 07, 2015, 06:21:51 PM by David »

Deoran

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2015, 12:26:28 PM »
Further to David's excellent summary above, there is a good reason for the conflicting advice on pronunciation. Unfortunately, because the Anglo-Saxons didn't bequeath to us a compressive guide on how to speak their language, and we are today rather lacking in native speakers, the current "received" pronunciation is a consensus view constructed post hoc by scholars. It's useful to remember that it's unlikely that every person that lived in what was to become England - from Northumberland to Somerset and from 550 to 1066 - pronounced all words in exactly the same way, any more than do the modern English. So you can cut yourself some slack when learning how to speak Old English!

Æðelstān

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2015, 04:42:35 PM »
Thank you very much! It was a big help!

David

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2015, 07:18:58 PM »

Æðelstān, I’m glad that we were able to help you although I must admit that when I come across a new word I consult the books to see how it is pronounced.

I forgot to include “sc”. In Germanic this was pronounced “sk” and stayed that way in most of its daughter languages. In our language it was palatized, case by case, to “sh” so by the time we come to standard englisc it is pronounced “sh” in nearly every case. The only exceptions I think of are āscian , scottisc and tusc. In scottisc the first “sc” is pronounced “sk” and the final “sc” is pronounced “sh”. Some people say that tusc is pronounced tush as it does appear as tush in middle English.

A few people use “sc” for “sk” and “sċ” for “sh” but I only think that is useful if you are dealing with the development of englisc from Germanic. For example when we get the singular disċ but the plural discas.

The Scandinavians never made this change so I say we get shirts form the Anglo-Saxons and skirts from the Vikings.


Æðelstān

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2015, 08:22:04 PM »

Æðelstān, I’m glad that we were able to help you although I must admit that when I come across a new word I consult the books to see how it is pronounced.

I forgot to include “sc”. In Germanic this was pronounced “sk” and stayed that way in most of its daughter languages. In our language it was palatized, case by case, to “sh” so by the time we come to standard englisc it is pronounced “sh” in nearly every case. The only exceptions I think of are āscian , scottisc and tusc. In scottisc the first “sc” is pronounced “sk” and the final “sc” is pronounced “sh”. Some people say that tusc is pronounced tush as it does appear as tush in middle English.

A few people use “sc” for “sk” and “sċ” for “sh” but I only think that is useful if you are dealing with the development of englisc from Germanic. For example when we get the singular disċ but the plural discas.

The Scandinavians never made this change so I say we get shirts form the Anglo-Saxons and skirts from the Vikings.

David,
Yes I first was lead to believe that the pronunciation of sc was sh frome The Wake, however when I was looking up pronunciations, one person said that is is generally sh however earlier in the migration period 5th-7th(?) centuries it was pronounced as sk

David

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2015, 11:07:19 PM »

Æðelstān, you are correct. When the Anglo-Saxons first came to Britain the change from “sk” to “sh” had only just started but in standard english  this was almost complete. By standard english  I mean late 10th century West Saxon. It was probably less complete in the Anglian areas.

The example I gave you was disċ with plural discas. This is probably 6th century because discōs had changed to discas and disc had changed to disċ. The “i” was the first trigger of the palatization but in the plural the “a” suppressed the palatization. Later the “a” would not suppress the palatization. Later “e/ē” and “æ/ǣ” would trigger the palatization until it took place in all cases. Again the Anglo-Saxons sometimes slipped in an “e” to tell us it was a palatal “sh” not “sk” as in bisceop as an alternative spelling of bisċop.

We get the same sort of thing happening with “c” and “g” although it did not go as far. So we get dīċ with the plural dīcas.

Æðelstān

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Re: Pronunciation of G and Ca
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2015, 07:34:26 AM »
David,
So in theory you could get away with a mis-pronunciation every now and then? Going back to your point on the part about in Anglian areas, it was less complete, would that then mean if I wanted a more Mercian approach, to use more of a 'sk' then a 'sh' ?
Thank You
Æðelstān

David

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2015, 06:49:06 PM »

Æþelstān

My comment on the Anglian dialect was pure speculation. I have no evidence to support it. It just seemed possible with the Viking influence.

I just suggest that with each word you see what pronunciation others suggest.

I did hear once that “sk” did not change straight to “sh” but there was a transitional “shk”. I do not know if that was correct.

Not everyone would agree on pronunciation, then or now, and there were different dialects.

brian farrell

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2015, 10:42:09 AM »
An excellent series of comments from David

Just to add;
when pronounced hard, words like 'cirice' (church) and 'cist' (chest) {various spellings for both} give the northern "kirk" and "cist".

Æðelstān

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2015, 07:31:20 AM »
Thank you! I suppose that is due to Norse influence or just simply accent, as I recall reading that the West Saxons couldn't understand them properly, though it may have just been an insult

Jayson

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2015, 01:48:07 AM »
I'm very much a beginner in OE (although I did do the basic mail course) but am I right in thinking that sometimes the C varies from what it 'should' be.   Take 'acer' for instance.   Following the rules, this should be pronounced as 'acher' but of course, we know the word as 'acre' with a hard C.   And a similar problem is what we call 'church' and the Lowland Scots call 'kirk', so it looks as though the 'C' the 'Ch' could be hard, I suppose depending on the area and the year.  Am I right?
Wessex Woman

David

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Re: Pronunciation of G and C
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2015, 08:53:42 AM »



Æcer is pronounced with the “k” sound rather than the “ch” sound. The “æ” stopped the immediate change from c to ċ. It appears that later that affect wore off for the g but did not get that far for the c.
 
Ċiriċe is pronounced with the “ch” sound. I have heard that the plural can be ċiriċan or ċirican. Maybe, at first, the “a” stopped the change càċ but later it did eventually happen (that is just my guess). I think that you will find that kirk comes from the Norse. Kirk appeared in early middle English even much further south than Scotland where one village might say kirk but the next say church.