pronunciation: ch (in Scottish)

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deny80

Senior Member
Italian - Italy
Hello! I'd like to know what is the Scottish pronounciation of the sound "ch", as in loch. Is it found in other languages?
 
  • Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    Hello! I'd like to know what is the Scottish pronounciation of the sound "ch", as in loch. Is it found in other languages?
    It's a throaty 'h' sound, but unvoiced. You might make this sound if you get a fish-bone stuck in your throat, or if you are panting after taking a swallow of an over-hot drink. Yes, lots of other languages have similar (but not identical) sounds. Russian, Hebrew, Farsi... I'm sure some expert will be able to give you a really scientific answer. :)
     

    Franglais Maestro

    Senior Member
    England English
    Put the back of your tongue ( not the tip) against the roof of your mouth. Then try to breathe out through your mouth very fast while saying "kh".

    You should not do this with friends watching.

    FM
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This question comes up from time to time.
    Looking up loch in the WordReference dictionary, I found
    how to pronounce "loch" in a street name "Loch Haven"?

    To summarise for future reference (the pronunciation of loch crops up quite often here) the ch of Loch would be entirely familiar to Polish, Czech, Slovenian, Croatian and, if presented as X, to Russian and Greek - and the IPA symbol is /x/.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    A very annoying phonetician* would point out that it is not the same sound found at the end of German ich ~ that is represented by a different symbol in IPA, possibly this /ç/. It's a subtly different sound.
     

    Franglais Maestro

    Senior Member
    England English
    Hey- let's not get too precise here.
    The difference between Loch in Glasgow, the Borders and Aberdeen is as great as the my friend Javier in Seville and San Sebastian.
    Many Scots use a hard k as in Lok Lomond and some get to clerar their throats with the Welsh and the Germans.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hey- let's not get too precise here.
    The difference between Loch in Glasgow, the Borders and Aberdeen is as great as the my friend Javier in Seville and San Sebastian.
    Many Scots use a hard k as in Lok Lomond and some get to clerar their throats with the Welsh and the Germans.
    I have no knowledge of your friend Javier.
    I do have knowledge of the pronunciation of /ch/ in a wide range of accents from the border northwards. I haven't come across a hard k, as pronounced by an English English-speaker, from any native Scot?
     

    Franglais Maestro

    Senior Member
    England English
    Hi Panjan
    It's a few months since I have been up there, but it's my impression that there is a wide variance in the hardness of the /ch/, even between men and women. All I am saying is that you can't pin down the Scots accent. All you can say is that the Scots have (in general) better diction than the English (in general), which is why they make such good broadcasters. However this is wandering off the point a bit,
     

    Gordonedi

    Senior Member
    UK (Scotland) English
    I do have knowledge of the pronunciation of /ch/ in a wide range of accents from the border northwards. I haven't come across a hard k, as pronounced by an English English-speaker, from any native Scot?
    :thumbsup: I'm with you on this, Panj ! Loch is pronounced Loch, not Lok, throughout Scotland by Scots, even those with lazy diction. Incomers (e.g. the English) do say Lok and get away with it, but I cannot agree that any Scot has slipped into abandoning "ch".

    For evidence, tune in on-line to BBC Radio Scotland and listen to the reports from all Scottish regions !

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/radioscotland/
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    It is important to distinguish between the ich-laut and the ach-laut in German. It is the latter we are concerned with here. German also has the word das Loch which is pronounced pretty well the same as the Scottish loch, but is not etymologically connected although it means "hole" (a lake or loch is a hole full of water).
    Dutch also has the sound as in the G of geen (no[ne] ). Arabic too in the letter غ
    as in ghanam (sheep). But I have the feeling that all this has been discussed at length before.
     

    MikeLynn

    Senior Member
    I managed to get a "never-dying" respect of all my Scottish friends by being able to pronounce "ch" properly and they were very surprised to hear that it existed in Czech-same spelling, same sound
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, especially for names - like the town of Auchtermuchty (in Fife) or surnames like McLaughlan or Waugh (unlike the English version, as in Evelyn Waugh).
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thanks, darush:), but I'm still curious about what you meant by your question in post 13:
    Hello,
    do Scottish people pronounce KH/X/, as they do in Loch?
    Were you referring to English words which are written with a "k" followed by an "h", as in "bunkhouse"? In which case the answer is 'no: no-one would pronounce "bunkhouse" with a /x/ sound'.

    Or were you referring to words in other languages which are written or transliterated using "kh"?
     

    darush

    Senior Member
    sorry, KH is confusing. when I think about /x/ in its English form, KH comes to my mind. for a German, for example, it would be CH, for a Russian X...
    I meant:
    Hello,
    do Scottish people pronounce /x/, as do in loch?
    or in better words:
    do Scottish people pronounce /x/? (while the English (wo)men and Americans do not!)
    is Loch the only English word in wich /x/ is pronounced? ( it is mentioned in many English dictionaries for/x/)
    now I know the right answers.
    thank you Loob and PaulQ
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thank you, darush - I understand your question now:).

    Looking at the various parts of your question:
    do Scottish people pronounce /x/? (while the English (wo)men and Americans do not!)
    Yes and no....

    Scottish English has a phoneme /x/ which English English and American English doesn't possess. But that doesn't mean that English/American people can't pronounce /x/: we can, easily.

    What happens is that, when confronted by a Scottish word which contains /x/:
    - English and American people who know how it's pronounced in Scotland will use /x/
    - English and American people who don't know how it's pronounced in Scotland will probably use /k/.
    is Loch the only English word in wich /x/ is pronounced? (as mentioned in many English dictionaries)
    No, it's not the only word in (Scottish - and Irish) English which has /x/ in the authentic pronunciation: there are many others.
    now I know the right answers.
    Yes, you do, darush!:D:thumbsup:
     
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    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    A very annoying phonetician* would point out that it is not the same sound found at the end of German ich ~ that is represented by a different symbol in IPA, possibly this /ç/. It's a subtly different sound.
    Annoying indeed! Both the Scottish and the German sound vary according to the region and undoubtedly variants of the Scottish sound coincide with variants of the German sound.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Annoying indeed! Both the Scottish and the German sound vary according to the region and undoubtedly variants of the Scottish sound coincide with variants of the German sound.
    I don't understand your point, Einstein. The German spelling "ch" represents two different phonemes: only one of them is found in Scottish English.

    (I have the horrible feeling that both your post and my answer are off-topic...:()
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Annoying indeed! Both the Scottish and the German sound vary according to the region and undoubtedly variants of the Scottish sound coincide with variants of the German sound.
    It is not regional variation but allophonic distribution in Scots just as it is in German. After a high front vowel you would expect /ç/ in almost all regional variants. Listen to any of the famous recordings of "A Wee Deoch an' Doris" by Sir Harry Lauder where he says /ɪts ə brɔː brɪçt muːnlɪçt nɪçt ðə nɪçt/ (forum rules prevent me from posting a link but it is easy to find).

    Be careful not to confuse Scots with Scottish Gaelic. The phonology of that language is different: ch in Glenfiddich is [x] and not [ç] even though it follows [ɪ]. Scots, being descendent from Middle English, just preserved this old English phoneme along with its allophonic distribution. In England, bright night was once also pronounced /brɪçt nɪçt/. But that was a long time ago.:)
     
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    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    It is not regional variation but allophonic distribution in Scots just as it is in German. After a high front vowel you would expect /ç/ in almost all regional variants. Listen to any of the famous recordings of "A Wee Deoch an' Doris" by Sir Harry Lauder where he says /ɪts ə brɔː brɪçt muːnlɪçt nɪçt ðə nɪçt/ (forum rules prevent me from posting a link but it is easy to find).

    Be careful not to confuse Scots with Scottish Gaelic. The phonology of that language is different: ch in Glenfiddich is [x] and not [ç] even though it follows [ɪ]. Scots, being descendent from Middle English, just preserved this old English phoneme along with its allophonic distribution. In England, bright night was once also pronounced /brɪçt nɪçt/. But that was a long time ago.:)
    I bow to your greater knowledge and will listen when I have time.:)
    But I do know that Scots and Scottish Gaelic are completely different things.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    But I do know that Scots and Scottish Gaelic are completely different things.
    I am sure you do.:) I just thought it would be wise to include this remark for the benefit of other readers less familiar with the languages and dialects of Britain.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    :thumbsup: I'm with you on this, Panj ! Loch is pronounced Loch, not Lok, throughout Scotland by Scots, even those with lazy diction. Incomers (e.g. the English) do say Lok and get away with it, but I cannot agree that any Scot has slipped into abandoning "ch".

    For evidence, tune in on-line to BBC Radio Scotland and listen to the reports from all Scottish regions !

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/radioscotland/
    I clicked on that link, and believe it or not, after a couple of minutes, there was a word with a Scottish ch!

    It was the Scottish word dreech - a word my mother, who was from the north of Ireland, used.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I think it's spelled dreich, Brioche - and yes, it's a great word!:D
    Dreech is a variant spelling:
    DREICH, adj. Also dreigh, dreech , -gh, driech, -gh, †driche, †drigh, †dree (esp. Gall.), and ¶dreif (Lnk. 1866 D. Wingate Annie Weir 190). The basic meaning is long-drawn-out, protracted, hence tedious, wearisome. [dri:ç]

    Source
    : search for headword DREICH, restrict search to SND, Scottish National Dictionary, documenting Modern Scots, i.e. 1700-present; the other dictionary searchable on this site, DOST, Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, documents Middle Scots.
    This site is an absolute must for everybody interested in Scots.
     
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