ch when pronounced like k

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  • L.2

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Hello bluegiraffe
    as opposite to cheese.
    sometimes 'ch' is pronounced like 'k'
    like in technology. I want to know if there is a rule for this.
    Thanks
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The 'ch' has no rule in English, particularly since English has words of many origins.

    Chevrolet, for example, is from the French where the 'ch' is pronounced like 'sh' in English. Chandelier is similar, although I'm not sure that we AE speakers are consistent there.

    Then there's the English name "Charles," which also exists in French but is pronounced differently in English, i.e. as in "chamber."

    The pronunciation just has to be learned. The mispronunciation of "ch" words often marks a non-native speaker who has tried to learn it "by the rules."
     

    jpyvr

    Senior Member
    English - Canadian
    Although it's not a rule of pronunciation, it does help to know that most English words where the "ch" derives from the Greek letter "chi" pronounce that "ch" as "k". This is often the case with words of science (chemistry), technology (the word technology itself) and religion (Christ). If you're reading a scientific text, you're more likely to find such words.

    Hope this helps.
     

    Grop

    Senior Member
    français
    Hello, there are exceptions to this. Machine for instance has the 'ch' pronounced the French way, probably because (unlike mechanic) it was loaned from French.
     

    jpyvr

    Senior Member
    English - Canadian
    Hello, there are exceptions to this. Machine for instance has the 'ch' pronounced the French way, probably because (unlike mechanic) it was loaned from French.

    I agree, and that's why I said one cannot use this as a "rule" of pronunciation, merely as a guide. There are definitely exceptions.
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    Although all that is written above is correct, in school many decades ago I learned that the two letters CH are pronounced in English like cheese. Then we went on to learn the exceptions.

    It is a similar situation in France, where CH are basically to be pronounced like the English SH. Nevertheless, they also say TECHNOLOGIE like a K.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Also note some names:

    Chaim Potok wrote a book called "The Chosen".

    Chaim is pronounced hard, but deep in the throat; Chosen is pronounced soft.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Also note some names:

    Chaim Potok wrote a book called "The Chosen".

    Chaim is pronounced hard, but deep in the throat; Chosen is pronounced soft.
    Chaim is a Hebrew name.
    Here ch is the sound found in the Scottish pronunciation of loch /x/.

    You will see Hebrew words transliterated in to English with h, or kh, or ch.

    Hanukkah or Chanukkah
    Hassidim or Chassidim or Khassidim
     

    iconoclast

    Senior Member
    english - anglo-irish
    Grop's comment on 'machine' was interesting because it was adopted after the Great Vowel Shift, and is therefore still pronounced more or less à la French, and not "muh-TCHAIN".

    There's also lovely Scots words like 'dreich', which is pronounced with a palatal fricative (phonetic symbol = c-cedilla), and not the velar fricative /x/ of 'loch' or 'Chaim'.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    As one who regularly hears dreich spoken by native Scots (it's a common feature of our weather), I'm puzzled by the suggestion that the ch is not the same as the ch of loch.
     

    iconoclast

    Senior Member
    english - anglo-irish
    As in German, after non-front vowel you get velar /x/, as in 'loch' or 'sheugh', and after a front vowel you get palatal /c-cedilla/, as in 'teuchter' and 'dreich' - the rules of phonological conditioning.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    As in German, after non-front vowel you get velar /x/, as in 'loch' or 'sheugh', and after a front vowel you get palatal /c-cedilla/, as in 'teuchter' and 'dreich' - the rules of phonological conditioning.
    Sorry, I'm lost.
    As a regular user of these words I am unable to identify any difference in the consonant sound, notwithstanding the variation in preceding vowel.
    Perhaps the rules of phonological conditioning do not prevail here.
     

    iconoclast

    Senior Member
    english - anglo-irish
    That's mighty strange. For 'loch' and 'sheugh' do you not feel the body of your tongue hump up a bit towards the back of your mouth and the front dropping slightly, and for 'teuchter' and 'dreich' do you not feel the body of the tongue move forward slightly (friction moving from velar to palatal area) and the front tense in a slight curve? (Not to mention that simultaneously the jaw is a fair bit more open for the non-front vowels and more close for the front vowels.)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Chaim is a Hebrew name.
    Here ch is the sound found in the Scottish pronunciation of loch /x/.

    You will see Hebrew words transliterated in to English with h, or kh, or ch.

    Hanukkah or Chanukkah
    Hassidim or Chassidim or Khassidim
    BUT if you have Hebrew names with <ch> in the Old Testament, they would be /k/ rather than /x/ in English - as in Malachi, Zechariah, Baruch. EXCEPTION: Rachel.
     

    granth

    New Member
    English - American
    I was interested in words that have ch pronounced as k that come before the vowel i, so I looked through chi words in my handy dictionary and found some that I've heard before but which aren't all that common, such as chiasmus, chiliast, & chimera. The reason I was interested in this is that I've been listening to Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter online and have heard a couple of times the name of the sinister character Chillingworth pronounced as if it were spelled Killingworth - so that's how I've started to say it as well. (It adds something, though I'm not sure what.)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "the name of the sinister character Chillingworth pronounced as if it were spelled Killingworth", an irregular pronunciation, I suspect for literary effect.
     
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