-GN- sound

metaphrastes

Senior Member
Portuguese - Portugal
Buna, dragi prieteni!

Although I do not have too much exposition to spoken Romanian, I do have the impression that, sometimes, the two consonants -gn- (as, for example, in răstigni) might be pronounced in a similar way to French or Italian -gn-, or Brazilian -nh-, or Spanish -ñ-. I would say, not so much soft as these sounds, but not having the -g- and -n- clearly pronounced. Basically, my impression is that the g suffers some palatalization from the proximity with the n, and this sounds closer to French -gn- in soigneur than to a hard gutural g, clearly distinct from the dental n, both articulated in opposed regions of the tongue.

Since Romanian spelling is consistently very phonetic - the more phonetic I ever knew - I wonder if:

1) Is this impression true at all?

2) If true, is such pronunciation considered standard, or correct? Or a hard pronunciation would be the standard?

3) Or is it rather a matter of some dialect, local accent, or idiolect (that is, some personal odd accent it happened I have had some exposition to?)

Thanks to all, mulţumesc!
 
  • farscape

    mod-errare humanum est
    Romanian
    To my ear, in the following words the groups of consonants gn and cn have a very similar pronunciation: the g and c while not accentuated, are clearly heard/pronounced and do not suffer the same transformation as the g in the gn words from French or Portuguese you are referring to. The sound for the following letter n is also clearly heard making for an intresting speech exercise.

    These are the words:
    Ignat
    a icni, a răstigni, ignifug, a pocni, agnostic and so on.

    I'm wondering if people from the regions of Banat or Maramureș use such a change in the pronunciation of the group gn as you mention, given other localized phonetics they have.

    As a general rule we pronounce both sounds because they are part of two different syllables:
    - răs-tig-ni
    - ic-ni / răc-ni
    - Ig-nat
    - ig-no-ra
    - ig-no-bil

    Later,
     

    metaphrastes

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    Thank you, farscape,

    thus, the correct pronunciation is with both sounds. I use to pronounce both, since we have in Portuguese this group too, although it is not the most common. We have ignorar (a ignora), ignóbil (ignobil), agnóstico (agnostic), ígneo (of the nature of fire), and many others, mostly from Greek roots. There are a few words with cn too, such as acne, and both sounds are pronounced, too. (to the French sound of -gn- we would write -nh-, where the "h" works as a palatalizing sign, similar to mute final "i" in Romanian, as in "bani". However, the palatalization in the Portuguese case is stronger).

    Now, regarding the name Ignat (from the same root of ígneo, related with fire), the "g" became mute many time ago, so that only in old books, from the first half of XX century, it was written (although not said). Thus, the old spelling would be something as Ignácio, while today it is spelled Inácio, that is still today a common name.

    I hope it has some interest to the forum.
    Obrigado, mulţumesc!
     
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    farscape

    mod-errare humanum est
    Romanian
    This is very interesting and informative, metaphrastes!

    I'm writing from my phone now, but the thing I remember the most about Ignat is in reference to Christmas traditions (won't go into details though).

    Thanks for starting this thread :)

    farscape
     

    metaphrastes

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    Good to know the thread and info is welcome :)
    Regarding Christmas traditions, it is natural since Saint Ignatius (or Ignat) is commemorated on December 20, a few days before Christmas, or Crăciun. It must be a beautiful season, in Romania! :)
     

    naicul

    Member
    Romanian
    Yes, Ignat happens on 20th of December in Romania and it's when, especially in the countryside, people sacrifice their pigs which they are going to serve as dinner during Christmas. The Romanian Christian celebration is mixed with some pagan beliefs and traditions.
    I've encountered the word Ignat as a surname as well, but never as a given name.

    As for the pronunciation, both consonants (gn) are clearly pronounced.
     

    irinet

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Yes, in Romanian we do not have the consonant group /gn/. If there were, we would have it in a syllabic unit as it is the case with French, Italian, etc.. Instead, we have the consonants, /g/ and /n/, as Farscape showed in his post.
     

    metaphrastes

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    Thank you again, for confirming the info farscape gave :)

    Now, for what is worth, in Portuguese we have the word digno, which we say dig-no, with both consonants in different syllables, and that means worthy, vrednic, coming from the Latin dignus.

    Now, we may find in old Portuguese literature, such as in XVI century Camões, or in Galaic-Portuguese poetry of XIII century, the spelling dino, without the g. That suggests that in those times the g was somewhat absorbed by the n in pronunciation, so that it was not written. And for some reason, the cult form, closer to Latin, eventually came back both to spelling as well to pronunciation.
     

    metaphrastes

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    I'd translate the word you mention as "demn", since it has the same latin root dexonline
    Thanks, I was more familiar with "vrednic". It is interesting because DEX describes the phonetic evolution from dignus to demn as "modificat după lemn < lignum, semn < signum, etc." This evolution is somewhat similar to dignus < dino as we find in archaic Portuguese, or Ignatius < Ignácio < Inácio as we find in modern Portuguese. It seems there is a natural tendency to soften the GN meeting, that we find across many languages, though in different ways.

    Now I remember the Latin agnus (lamb-miel) that in a somewhat archaic or regional Portuguese was called anho (that is said exactly with the palatalized French "gn" sound). Interestingly enough, as per DEX, miel came from Latin agnellus, a diminutive form of agnus. Now, as per the Dicționarul etimologic român (again in DEX online), it is difficult to explain why this phonetic change did not resulted in mn as in other cases - anyway, the gn gave way to a m sound.

    Anyway, this same source gives an interesting hypothesis that seems to give answer to my original post. It says in DEX online: "Ipoteza lui Rosetti, BL, V, 33 (și Rosetti, Mélanges, 171), cu privire la un rezultat român(ă) •ñel trecut la miel prin fonetism analogic, pentru a evita pronunțarea ñ, care în român(ă) s-ar considera "patoise", e destul de puțin probabilă, fiindcă propune pentru dacoromân un rezultat gn › ñ, care nu apare în alte exemple. . . . . .". (See more details in dexonline, sursa DER (1958-1966).

    Now, it seems it is confirmed: the pronounce I sometimes have heard is considered patois: Patois - Wikipedia
     

    irinet

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    The 'g' sound is an oclusive velar sound consonant, and we don't have an allophone for the nasal /n/ in this context like, [ŋ] is, that imediately follows the /g/ sound.

    We have the words 'indignare' , 'indignat' from Latin and 'merituos' (=demn / worthy) from the Latin 'meritorium' I think.

    I am not an expert in Phonetics, but I can follow some crumbs of logics.

    To be honest, I cannot agree with the statements above regarding the phonetic analogy with words like, 'demn' /dignus) or 'miel' (agnellus) despite the DEX rules.

    Let us not forget that Geto-Dacians, for instance, were shepherds before the Roman invasion.

    And of course, this is my counter- argument only.
     
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    metaphrastes

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    Let us not forget that Geto-Dacians, for instance, were shepherds before the Roman invasion.
    Yes, I see, it makes all sense that Romanian preserved such words from Geto-Dacian substratum in such an old and essential activity as shepherding. Probably one should not take for sure this evolution from agnellus to miel - even the Dicționarul etimologic român recognizes it is difficult to explain that way.
     
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