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Thread: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

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    Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Hi,

    I wonder how accurate this claim is for English:
    If there is "e","i" or "y" after "g" in a word and the "g" is pronounced /g/, its root is Germanic, but if it's pronounced /dʒ/ the root is Romance. (excluding words added in last two centuries).

    Thanks.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    In general, yes, there is a strong correlation between the pronunciation of ‹g› before a front vowel and Germanic vs. Romance origin, keeping in mind that some words allow both pronunciations, and that many words have neither Germanic nor Romance origin.

    Are you looking for a list of counter-examples?

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by CapnPrep View Post
    Are you looking for a list of counter-examples?
    Even if Treaty isn't, I'm interested in it

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Gale_ View Post
    Even if Treaty isn't, I'm interested in it
    I'm interested too. Especially if it is following a counter-pattern.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    In Scandinavian, ‹g› usually becomes ‹y› (as in yellow) in front of e,i,y and j; and after final i or e.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Treaty View Post
    Hi,

    I wonder how accurate this claim is for English:
    If there is "e","i" or "y" after "g" in a word and the "g" is pronounced /g/, its root is Germanic, but if it's pronounced /dʒ/ the root is Romance. (excluding words added in last two centuries).
    Are you talking about the letter "g", or the sound [g]? Either way, I would say the answer is no.

    Words such as bridge, midge, ledge etc. show the [dʒ] pronunciation for the letter "g" but are (as far as I know) inherited from Proto-Germanic, reflecting forms with earlier *-gj-: e.g., Proto-Germanic *brugjo- > Old English brycg > Modern bridge.

    The word knowledge is another example, but here the -dg- is thought to reflect earlier *-k-, followed by a either front vowel or the glide [j].

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    Are you talking about the letter "g", or the sound [g]? Either way, I would say the answer is no.

    Words such as bridge, midge, ledge etc. show the [dʒ] pronunciation for the letter "g" but are (as far as I know) inherited from Proto-Germanic,
    Gavril, I guess that they told about roots, i.e. of ‹g› before a front vowel not in the end. Such as Germanic, gentry, gym, but gift, begin... etc.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Gale_ View Post
    Gavril, I guess that they told about roots, i.e. of ‹g› before a front vowel not in the end. Such as Germanic, gentry, gym, but gift, begin... etc.
    The original question said, "If there is "e","i" or "y" after "g" in a word, ..."

    bridge, midge, ridge etc. all have the letter g followed by the letter e, so I think they're relevant to Treaty's question.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by NorwegianNYC View Post
    In Scandinavian, ‹g› usually becomes ‹y› (as in yellow) in front of e,i,y and j; and after final i or e.
    Yes, in Old English as well. That's why dæg become day in English and, as you said, geowe/geolo(w) became yellow. In general, Germanic /g/ was spriantized, either [ɣ] or [ʝ]~[j]. Plosive [g] existed only and only in some contexts, notably word-initially in Old-Norse the influence of which explains that we say give and not *yive in Modern English (the latter pronunciation died out in late Middle English). In Middle English these inherited <g>s pronounced [ʝ]~[j] were spelled <ȝ> in Middle English to distinguish them from other, usually non-native pronunciations. Later <ȝ> which could also stand for [ç] and [x] was replaced by <y> and <gh>, respectively; e.g. ȝelwe/ȝellou/ȝellow became yellow and liȝt became light.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    bridge, midge, ridge etc. all have the letter g followed by the letter e, so I think they're relevant to Treaty's question.
    Yes and a bit of no. In these words, [dʒ] is spelled <dg> and not just <g> which makes them recognizable, even if you don't know the etymology.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    Are you talking about the letter "g", or the sound [g]?
    The question is about the letter ‹g›, of course (how could the sound [g] be pronounced [dʒ]? ) And, as your examples show, and as berndf also pointed out, we need to treat digraphs ending in ‹g› (‹ng›, ‹dg›, etc.) separately.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by CapnPrep View Post
    The question is about the letter ‹g›, of course (how could the sound [g] be pronounced [dʒ]? )


    That's what I thought as well, but it seemed possible (if unlikely) that the original poster was asking about the change [g] > [dʒ] before a front vowel and whether it applied to Germanic words as well as Romance.

    And, as your examples show, and as berndf also pointed out, we need to treat digraphs ending in ‹g› (‹ng›, ‹dg›, etc.) separately.


    Maybe so, but again, the original question seemed to be about all cases of <g> followed by <e,i,y>.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    Maybe so, but again, the original question seemed to be about all cases of <g> followed by <e,i,y>.
    I wasn't saying it was off-topic for this thread, just that the digraphs should be treated separately. Your examples in -dge are probably the sort of "counter-pattern" Treaty is interested in. Since there are also many Romance words spelled with ‹dg› (and pronounced with []: judge, pledge, abridge, etc.), this pattern gives us no clue about the origin of the words. But other cases of ‹g› might, and do.

    You said that the answer to the original question was "no", but it wasn't a yes/no question…
    Last edited by CapnPrep; 6th March 2013 at 1:35 PM.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    "-ge" is actually a kind of proof for my hypothesis. Because most words in English which have the letter "j" are either French or Latin. I assume Modern English needed it own [dʒ] letter so they invented the combination "-ge" at the end of a word (Sounds they have used other combinations before like "cg"). They didn't used single "g" because it was pronounced [g] by default.

    So far, the only pattern with "g" sounding [dʒ] is "-ge" at the end of the word. "wage" seems to be another exception.



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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Gale_ View Post
    Gavril, I guess that they told about roots, i.e. of ‹g› before a front vowel not in the end. Such as Germanic, gentry, gym, but gift, begin... etc.
    Neither gentry nor gym is Germanic, but Latin and Greek respectively.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Jamin View Post
    Neither gentry nor gym is Germanic, but Latin and Greek respectively.
    Gale didn't mean they were Germanic but cited the word Germanic as an example of <g> before front a vowel.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Treaty View Post
    "-ge" is actually a kind of proof for my hypothesis. Because most words in English which have the letter "j" are either French or Latin. I assume Modern English needed it own [dʒ] letter so they invented the combination "-ge" at the end of a word (Sounds they have used other combinations before like "cg"). They didn't used single "g" because it was pronounced [g] by default.

    So far, the only pattern with "g" sounding [dʒ] is "-ge" at the end of the word. "wage" seems to be another exception.
    I am completely confused. <g> = [dʒ] is the rule in words of Romance origin before front vowels, not in words of Germanic origin. Words like wage (from Anglo-French) are the rule and not the exception.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Treaty View Post
    "-ge" is actually a kind of proof for my hypothesis.
    Could you tell us what your hypothesis is, exactly? I am as confused as berndf by what you've just written.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by CapnPrep View Post
    Could you tell us what your hypothesis is, exactly? I am as confused as berndf by what you've just written.
    I'm myself confused . OK, I will explain:
    1- My hypothesis is that [dʒ] is not a genuine* English sound. Therefore, most words with [dʒ] are of Romance origin either with "j" or "g+e.i.y" (except some Germanic word that entered in 16th century?).
    2- Based on [1] I expand my question to if [dʒ] sound is a good marker for finding the origin of a word
    3- Question in [1] automatically means that if the letter "g" before "e.i.y" is not pronounced [dʒ] the root is Germanic.
    4- As Gavril mentioned, there are some exceptions. Interestingly all of them follow a similar pattern** : (some letters)+(vowel)+(a consonant)+"g"+"e".

    * Or may be [ʒ] is not genuine so they pronounced it [dʒ] which itself was a very rare sound.
    ** "wage" has a mixed(?) Germanic and French root: "wed" and "gage". If the root is Germanic it can be an exception to that pattern.

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    Re: Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

    Quote Originally Posted by Treaty View Post
    3- Question in [1] automatically means that if the letter "g" before "e.i.y" is not pronounced [dʒ] the root is Germanic.
    You should at least say "non-Romance" here, not "Germanic". As I mentioned above, Romance and Germanic are not the only two sources of English vocabulary.
    Quote Originally Posted by Treaty View Post
    ** "wage" has a mixed(?) Germanic and French root: "wed" and "gage". If the root is Germanic it can be an exception to that pattern.
    I see. In fact, many many words in French (Old French, Anglo-French) have Germanic roots, but by the time they were borrowed into English, they were fully assimilated French words (at least as far as the spelling and the pronunciation of palatalized ‹g› are concerned). I think you should just put them in the "Romance" category, meaning that the pronunciation [dʒ] is not exceptional.

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