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Author Topic: Just a small point on pronunciation  (Read 8610 times)

Jayson

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Just a small point on pronunciation
« on: February 08, 2012, 04:29:27 PM »
The word for 'to ask' is 'ascian' which looks as though it should be pronounced as 'ashian' but this doesn't sound right.   Should it be pronounced 'as-chian' so that as the years went on the 'ch' hardened to become a 'k' sound?
Wessex Woman

Horsa

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2012, 04:56:44 PM »
I pronounce the c as k, possibly due to an analogy with the modern pronunciation (never really the best strategy. Never really thought about it. However, there are spelling variants that go acsian and axian, which suggests a k pronunciation.

Then again we have fisc and fix.

I would say that the c would be influenced by the preceding stressed vowel rather than the one that comes after, which would explain the sh pronunciation of fisc.

leofwin

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2012, 07:52:12 PM »
I go for a hard 'c' as in mod English

Iohannes

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2012, 10:58:20 PM »
Below you can read what www.etymonline.com (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=ask&searchmode=none) says about the evolution in the pronunciation of 'to ask':

Quote
...Form in English influenced by a Scandinavian form of the word (cf. Dan. æske; the O.E. would have evolved by normal sound changes into ash, esh, which was a Midlands and s.w. England dialect form). Modern dialectal ax is as old as O.E. acsian and was an accepted literary variant until c.1600. Related: Asked; asking...

Iohannes

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2012, 10:59:54 AM »
I go for a hard 'c' as in mod English, too, anyway!  ;)

David

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2012, 11:14:01 AM »
Just to agree with everyone else.

Stephen Pollington in his pronunciation section in First Steps in Old English says "there are a few cases where the pronunciation 'sk' applies e.g. ascian" unfortunately he does not give other examples.

Henry Sweet in the pronunciation section in his "Anglo- Saxon Primer" says "But sc had the sound sk in some words where back vowels prevailed: āscian ... and in foreign words such as scōl, Scottas".
It is interesting that he uses the long a in ascian.

I think that I have also seen acsian but I cannot remember where.

It is interesting to hear that in old English the sh sound was used but switched back to sk under Scandinavian influence. I had assumed that for some reason it had missed out being changed to sh.

Linden

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2012, 11:39:18 AM »
................I think that I have also seen acsian but I cannot remember where...............................


The Bosworth & Toller dictionary gives

'ascian, acsian, ahsian, axian;  I. To ask'

The following also spring to mind:-

'fiscian, fixian;  To fish'

'hnescian, hnexian;  To make, or to become, soft, to soften' 

'wæscan, wacsan, waxan, wacxan, waxsan;  To wash'
Cræft biþ betere ðonne æhta

David

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2012, 04:59:50 PM »
................I think that I have also seen acsian but I cannot remember where...............................


The Bosworth & Toller dictionary gives

'ascian, acsian, ahsian, axian;  I. To ask'

The following also spring to mind:-

'fiscian, fixian;  To fish'

'hnescian, hnexian;  To make, or to become, soft, to soften' 

'wæscan, wacsan, waxan, wacxan, waxsan;  To wash'

Do these also have a "sk" sound. I thought they were "sh".

Linden

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2012, 05:49:41 PM »
Do these also have a "sk" sound. I thought they were "sh".

I don't have the foggiest what the current 'received opinion' is on their pronunciation but they are intriguing as is the following pair:-

'asce, æsce, acse, ahse, axe, axse, æxe; f. Ash, ashes'
'æx, æcs, æsc, acas, acase, axe; f.  An axe, a hatchet, pickaxe'

They should logically have been pronounced similarly but, as we know from modern English, language is not necessarily logical in its rules.  However, as there were no absolute rules for spelling and the scribes were (presumably) writing words as they were spoken, why would the 'k' sound be reflected in so many alternative spellings if it did not exist?

My personal opinion is that the 'k' sound persisted more than is generally thought.  I will be offering some evidence
e.g. that OE 'fisc' was not "fish" but more like "fisk"
 and 'flæsc' was not "flæsh" but more like '"flæsk"
when I publish the Exeter Riddles that I have solved.  The plans keep changing because I am finding more and more out about them.
Cræft biþ betere ðonne æhta

Horsa

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2012, 07:19:01 PM »
I think more interesting than the claim that ask was influenced by Norse is the examples:

Quote from: etymology online
ash, esh, which was a Midlands and s.w. England dialect form

As I said, I thought that the sc in ascian was influenced by the preceding back vowel, whereas the sc in fisc was influenced by the preceding front vowel.

As well as spelling variants, there may well have been pronunciation variants that weren't dialectal.

peter horn

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2012, 11:05:43 AM »
probably not completely relevant, but in suffolk dialect ask is 'ax' with short a (Forby 'Voc of east anglia) as pronounced by my suffolk grandfather.
peter

lawrence

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Re: Just a small point on pronunciation
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2012, 10:49:20 PM »
"ax" used to mean "ask" is also found in the Lancashire dialect as spoken by my grandfather (and by me as a child)