Pronunciation: Celtic, celticism

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Idioteque

Senior Member
Italy - Italian
Hello everybody!
I have a doubt about the pronunciation of a word... according to my dictionary (and to my English teacher), the words "celtic" and "celticism" have a different pronunciation: "keltik" and "seltik" in AE. But some friend of mine who have often been to UK, told me that the correct pronunciation is "seltik" (for example, in the name "Celtic Glasgow", famous soccer team). Could anyone please tell me the correct pronunciation? :)
Thank you very much!

Laura
 
  • Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Hello Laura,

    In BE the correct pronunciation is 'keltic' in all cases except for the football team. It's quite possible, though, that the football team is gradually leading people astray and effectively changing the standard pronunciation of the word. I'm sure others will give you their opinion on this.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In my experience, only the sports teams use the S pronunciation. Glasgow Celtic soccer team is not the only one.

    I see that the OED includes both k and s pronunciations for both words, but gives no clue as to where or by whom each is used.

    CLICK HERE for a fascinating article on this topic.The author suggests that the sports teams are holding out while academia leads the charge for change:D
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    panjandrum said:
    I see that the OED includes both k and s pronunciations for both words, but gives no clue as to where or by whom each is used.
    Glad to hear that the "keltic" pronunciation is so dominant on your side of the pond. Not so here, where it's catch-as-catch-can. One obvious culprit in AE is the Boston Celtics. I would only ever call them the Seltics myself, so I don't see the remedy.

    I vote for maintaining the k pronunciation in both versions of English.
     

    Idioteque

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    Oh, I didn't expect so many exhaustive replies! :)
    Thanks to everyone, I knew that the correct pronunciation was "keltik", but many people had told me that "keltik" was a sort of well-educated or archaic manner... :confused:
    I'm very glad now! Thank you very much! :D

    Laura
     

    QEW

    New Member
    Italia - italiano
    What is the right pronunciation of word "Celtic"?
    Is it "seltik" or "keltik"?
    Yesterday I heard "keltik" in a sentence defined as "English accent".
    Thanks
     

    sarcie

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    As far as I know, the adjective "Celtic" and the people, the "Celts" are pronounced with a hard "k" sound (keltik and kelts). The only time I would say "Seltik" is when talking about the football team, Glasgow Celtic.

    PS: Welcome to the forums, QEW!
     

    K.u.r.t

    Senior Member
    Czech
    You can hear both.

    Seltik can be heard more in the US
    Keltik can be heard more in the UK

    (although both forms are possible in both BE and AE)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There are two right answers, depending on the context.
    For a full explanation, read the posts that will appear earlier in this thread shortly.
     

    QEW

    New Member
    Italia - italiano
    sorry for redundance of my message. I didn' see the one of Laura. Typical error of beginner. Thanks for your help.
     

    difficult cuss

    Senior Member
    English England
    Hi Panjandrum,
    "For a full explanation, read the posts that will appear earlier in this thread shortly"
    Very cryptic.
     

    Karmal

    New Member
    American English
    1. There are dozens of regional dialects just in the US alone. Which one is right? All? None?

    The pro argument for the hard C seems to be that have to say "Keltic" otherwise it's somehow disrespectful to all those dead ancient Celts.

    The con argument for the hard C is that Standard English usage for centuries now has been that C before E is pronounced as an S. Hence, celestial, cedar, incense, cider and et cetera. Otherwise, we'd have to say celery as kelery, and Caesar and Kaiser.

    2. Diversity 101 in universities nowadays insists that all cultures are different but equal, including English-speaking ones where no two English dialects sound exactly alike and many vastly different. If their dialects are perfectly appropriate, then Keltic being more appropriate then Seltic flies in the face of the whole diversity argument. Either all cultures and how they pronounce Celtic are just fine and dandy or they’re not.

    3. Linguistics 101 points out that all languages are in flux, always changing and "correct" usage is ephemeral, consisting only of what's used by the majority regardless of what universities and such would have to the contrary. Culture determines dictionary words and pronunciations; Not the other way around. The French language purists have been beating their heads against that particular wall for ages to no avail.

    4. No matter what the pedants and purists think to the contrary, if you buy any of the aforementioned then clearly everyone is entitled to talk like a/an [your nationality goes here] in [you country goes here] without apology or explanation.
     

    Shaun I.

    New Member
    English-Irish/American
    My ancestors are "Celtic" like many Irish, Scottish, etc. And I would like to give my opinion, which is that it is pronounced as 'keltic'. And also quote a few sources. One states that "there are some who argue that "keltic" is the "correct" pronouciation because both Irish and Welsh use the letter C to indicate the sound represented by the letter K in English." And the other has this to say on the subject, "What is popularly used where you live is usually deemed as the 'correct' pronunciation of the word Celt ( or Celtic). Another said " the Scottish soccer team which is always pronounced with the 's'. The Concise Oxford Dictionary has changed its first preference from the 's' sound to the 'k' sound in recent editions."
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    My ancestors are "Celtic" like many Irish, Scottish, etc. And I would like to give my opinion, which is that it is pronounced as 'keltic'. And also quote a few sources. One states that "there are some who argue that "keltic" is the "correct" pronouciation because both Irish and Welsh use the letter C to indicate the sound represented by the letter K in English."
    (i) Unfortunately, having Celtic ancestry is no guide to pronunciation and (ii) The word Celtic is not a Celtic word, but originate from Latin (via French)
    Celt c.1600, from L. Celta, singular of Celtæ, from Gk. Keltoi, Herodotus' word for the Gauls (who were also called Galatai). Used by the Romans of continental Gauls but apparently not of the British Celtic tribes.
    And
    Celtic 1650s, of archaeology or history, from Fr. Celtique or L. Celticus "pertaining to the Celts" (see Celt). Of languages, from 1707; of other qualities, 19c. Celtic twilight is from Yeats's name for his collection of adapted Irish folk tales (1893).
    Look at the link on Panjandrum's post #3 - everyone is right and everyone is wrong.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    ...The con argument for the hard C is that Standard English usage for centuries now has been that C before E is pronounced as an S. Hence, celestial, cedar, incense, cider and et cetera. ...
    That rule, for G and C, applies to words of Latin origin, such as those examples. It does not apply to words of Germanic origin. Granted, few words of Germanic origin start with "ce," since the Old Norse language didn't have the letter "c," but when we run into one like "Celtic" it's silly to apply a Latin rule to it. (There are many English words of Germanic origin that start with "ge" and have a hard "g," which would violate the same underlying rule. "Get" is probably the most common.)
     

    WestFevalia

    Senior Member
    French - France
    Hello,
    I've been surprised not long ago when someone told me: Don't pronounce it Ssseltic, it's Keltic! In my Robert & Collins dictionary, I had seen:
    Celtic [ˈkɛltɪk, ˈsɛltɪk]
    ... and I automatically/unconsciously said Ssseltic! Now I think of it, I had once seen the word written Keltic, and this spelling is mentionned in WR.
    So what's the most common pronunciation?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    These days it's always [k] for the languages and culture, and [s] for the football team. And I'm sure there is a previous thread on this.
     

    WestFevalia

    Senior Member
    French - France
    Thank you and sorry for creating a new thread. I've found the one (I should say the ones) you talked about afterwards.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I've merged your thread, WestFevalia, thread with one of the earlier threads. (Thanks, Andy.) I hope this answers all of your questions, but if not, you're welcome to ask them here.

    JustKate
    English Only moderator
     
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