Chicago [ch sound]

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crespus2006

Member
Brazilian Portuguese
Hey guys,

I was reading a post about the ch sound, then it hit me. If ch sounds like K so, why do people say the ch of Chicago like the sh of shampoo?
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    You really need to think of your question the other way round, crespus: if people pronounce "Chicago" with a "sh" sound, why is it spelled with "ch" rather than the "sh" of "shampoo"?

    Spellings in English are often historically-based. Here's what the Online Etymology Dictionary says about the history of the word "Chicago":
    Chicago town founded in 1833, named from a Canadian French form of an Algonquian word, either Fox /sheka:ko:heki "place of the wild onion," or Ojibwa shika:konk "at the skunk place" (sometimes rendered "place of the bad smell"). The Ojibwa "skunk" word is distantly related to the New England Algonquian word that yielded Modern English skunk.
    So in this case the spelling "ch" derives from French - in which the combination "ch" is pronounced like the "sh" in "shampoo".
     
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    Miss Julie

    Senior Member
    English-U.S.
    As a native of the area, I concur with Loob and disagree a bit with morzh:

    The only correct way to pronounce Chicago is with the "sh" sound. If you pronounce it with the "ch" sound, it is assumed that (1) you are from outside the U.S., (2) you have been misinformed, and/or (3) your native language renders you incapable of pronouncing it with the "sh" sound.
     
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    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    As a native of the area, I concur with Loob and disagree a bit with morzh:

    The only correct way to pronounce Chicago is with the "sh" sound. If you pronounce it with the "ch" sound, it is assumed that (1) you are from outside the U.S., (2) you have been misinformed, and/or (3) your native language renders you incapable of pronouncing it with the "sh" sound.
    Have to disagree with you on (1). I have heard many natives saying "ch" though I myself say "sh". Also I even heard a news anchor saying "ch". It is not "from outside the US" thing. It is "yooks vs. zooks" thing. Or locals vs. misinformed non-locals.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Those so-called "natives" are wrong.
    I am not arguing that point. What I am saying is: there are many (or at least enough, so I met them) natives who say it that way.

    PS. The only correct way to say "Shropshire" is "Shrop-sher". But a friend of mine, a native of the US (part English descent) said "My grandmother was from Shrop-shah-ier". Was he wrong? Yes. Was he from outside of the English-speaking world? No.
     

    Miss Julie

    Senior Member
    English-U.S.
    I am not arguing that point. What I am saying is: there are many (or at least enough, so I met them) natives who say it that way.
    If they are really native (or maybe they're just claiming to be), then they must be mimicking their immigrant parents who are pronouncing it wrong, thus perpetuating the mispronunciation.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    (Natives with a hispanic language background will often say "ch" in all cases, including "Chevy", "Chicago", "chamois" and similar words; Spanish is much more logical and consistent about the sounds of letter combinations.) As Loob said, we have an odd mixture of words in English from various languages. Many of the words that come from French use the "sh" sound, including the ones I listed in the first sentence, along with chambray and chef and several (many?) others.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    If she was referring to the natives I referred to first, and I was referring to the US natives, then she was also referring to them. And the Chicago ones I called "locals". I thought we had an understanding.
    Because I did say in my first post that locals do say "Sh" sound.

    Could be the misinterpretation / mutual misunderstanding, of course.
     

    crespus2006

    Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Thank you, guys! (and Brioche who sent me a PM)
    I always wanted to know why people say "Shicago" or "Mishigan"! Now I know, because of the French! So, thank you French guys for making my life so much easier (yeah! I'm Brazilian, I speak ch like sh in my native language!)
     
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