English spelling going back to Latin spelling (provoke -> provocable; k changes to c)

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Riyan

Senior Member
Pashto
Hello.
There is a phenomena in which English spelling goes back to Latin spelling in some words (derived from Latin) when a suffix is added to it.
Examples: 'Evoke' is from Latin 'ex' and 'vocare'. It's anglicised to 'evoke' but when we add a suffix 'able' to 'evoke', it becomes 'evocable'. The 'k' in English word changes to 'c' i.e. goes back to Latin word 'vocare' (which does have 'c' in its spelling).
Similarly, 'invoke' is from Latin 'in' and 'vocare'. When we add suffix 'able' to 'invoke', it becomes 'invocable'. ('k' changes to 'c').
The 'k' also becomes 'c' when the verb form '..voke' is changed to a noun. Provoke -> provocation.
Does anyone know why it happens? Is there any rule/ guideline for this in Latin?
 
  • bearded

    Senior Member
    Does anyone know why it happens?
    Hi, I think the reason is pronunciation: the 'k' sound must always be maintained. Before vowels e and i, 'ce' and 'ci' would sound se and si respectively, according to English pronunciation rules. So, wherever possible, the etymological c is retained (before a, for example: 'evocable') - replaced by k if necessary for retaining the sound.
     

    Riyan

    Senior Member
    Pashto
    Hi, I think the reason is pronunciation: the 'k' sound must always be maintained. Before vowels e and i, 'ce' and 'ci' would sound se and si respectively, according to English pronunciation rules. So, wherever possible, the etymological c is retained (before a, for example: 'evocable') - replaced by k if necessary for retaining the sound.
    Hello Bearded.
    I know the sound changes to /s/ when 'c' comes before 'e' and 'i'. And it is /k/ before 'a', 'o' and 'u'. But why does the English spelling (revoke) goes back to Latin (revocare)? Why is it not written as 'revokeable'?

    Like + able -> likeable, shake + able -> shakeable.
    Like and shake are of Germanic origin. When a suffix is added to them, 'k' in their spellings does not change to 'c' even though they have 'c' in the root word (original German word).

    Like comes from Old English līcian, of Germanic origin.
    Shake comes from Old English sc(e)acan (verb), of Germanic origin.

    It should have been 'licable' and 'shacable'..?? :confused: :confused: :confused:

    The spelling goes back to root word only when the word is derived from Latin.
    Why it only happens to words that have been derived from Latin?
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Why is it not written as 'revokeable'?
    I think it's a direct derivation from the Latin adjective revocabilis (or French révocable for that matter). Many Latin terms have entered English with their (almost) original spelling.

    I would like to remark that your question is possibly more suitable for the Etymology or English forums..
     
    Last edited:

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Germanic is not a language anyone speaks anymore, neither is Old English. I didn't even know there was a set spelling for them. For all practical purposes, they are dead and unknown to English speakers and have been for a long time. So, if "like" has an origin in "lician", no one knows it.

    Latin is written, has always had high visibility and prestige, and is very present in modern English, straight from classical source, or through another Romance Language. We even create new English words based on Latin. So we want to keep the spelling as close as possible to the origin.

    Like Bearded I believe the only reason why we have "invoke, provoke.." is that *invoce, *provoce would have to be pronounced s, and that would have caused a big problem. These verbs are actually the irregular forms not the other Latinate forms that are majority.
    Yes, I know sometimes we just don't care and break our own rules like Celtic, we should write have written it *Keltic to be logical. Probably all people learning English from books think it's pronounced Seltic. They would have had the same problem with *invoce

    This should be transferred to the Etymology forum.
     

    Riyan

    Senior Member
    Pashto
    Thank you, Bearded and merquiades. :)

    Yes, I know sometimes we just don't care and break our own rules like Celtic, we should write have written it *Keltic to be logical. Probably all people learning English from books think it's pronounced Seltic
    I've always been pronouncing celtic with /s/ sound. I didn't know 'celtic' was pronounced with /k/. :D
     
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