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Etymology by pronunciation of "g"

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Treaty, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. Treaty Senior Member

    Australia
    Persian
    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.
     
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    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?
     
  3. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Even if Treaty isn't, I'm interested in it :)
     
  4. Treaty Senior Member

    Australia
    Persian
    I'm interested too. Especially if it is following a counter-pattern.
     
  5. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    In Scandinavian, ‹g› usually becomes ‹y› (as in yellow) in front of e,i,y and j; and after final i or e.
     
  6. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    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].
     
  7. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    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.
     
  8. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    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.
     
  9. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    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.
     
  10. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    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.
     
  11. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    The question is about the letter ‹g›, of course (how could the sound [g] be pronounced [dʒ]? :confused:) And, as your examples show, and as berndf also pointed out, we need to treat digraphs ending in ‹g› (‹ng›, ‹dg›, etc.) separately.
     
  12. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA


    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.



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

    France
    AmE
    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: Mar 6, 2013
  14. Treaty Senior Member

    Australia
    Persian
    "-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.


     
  15. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Neither gentry nor gym is Germanic, but Latin and Greek respectively.
     
  16. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Gale didn't mean they were Germanic but cited the word Germanic as an example of <g> before front a vowel.;)
     
  17. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    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.
     
  18. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Could you tell us what your hypothesis is, exactly? I am as confused as berndf by what you've just written.
     
  19. Treaty Senior Member

    Australia
    Persian
    I'm myself confused :D. 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.
     
  20. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    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.
    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.
     
  21. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    This pattern is a palatalization of double /g/ (compare Old Saxon cognates with <ggi>, Scandinavian cognates with <gg> and Old High German cognates with <cc>) in front of [j]: [ggj] > [dʒ]; actually a two step development [ggj] > [dʝ] and subsequent merger with [dʒ] after the Norman conquest sounds more plausible to me, but I cannot prove it.
     
  22. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Sorry for misunderstanding.
     
  23. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    Since the original question mentions "y" after the "g",
    I want to point out that "y" (called "i grec" in French and "i griega" in Spanish) in a root is often a sign of Greek origin and corresponds to upsilon in the Greek alphabet.
    This doesn't mean that it's not "Romance", in the sense that many of the Greek words in English were "filtered" through Latin or Romance languages.
    The Greek origin of "gym(nasium, -nastics, etc.)" has been pointed out by Ben Jamin.
    Consider also "gypsum", "gyro-", "Egypt", and "gynecology" (and in this word the first "g" is exceptional, in that it's usually pronounced [g], not [dʒ]).
    By the way, the names of sciences ending with "-ology" are generally of Greek origin too, although the final "y" is a quirk of English orthography, not from upsilon.
     

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