Wow, nobody ever reads at this forum -- so this will be a test. [Testing, testing, 1,2,3...]
I am just finishing up another Fr-lang mystery (this one a lengthy treatise on 3 murders that occurred in Finisterre, the part of Bretagne that sticks out into Atlantic -- lots of context about oceanography, pollution, fish trade, dolphins). I do it to help me stay fluent (& because I love mysteries). I actually only have 1 little tutee-family in French, but it was my major (so easier to read, & need to keep up for lack of practice). All of my other work is PreK Span -- & I would love to read more Spanish, but their lit is very short on good mysteries, so I just keep reading along in Cien Años de Soledad - Marquez' "One Hundred Years of Solitude," which I love.
Anyhoo. I find that even tho I can read Fr faster than I can speak it, I am slowed by words I'm embarrassed to admit I'm not sure how to pronounce. So I finally forced myself to stop & read up on "ch." because I know that even tho the vast majority of "ch"-words in French are pronounced like "sh" in Eng, I also know there are some very common words where "ch" is pronounced like "k." [e.g., quite sure that "orchestre" & "technique" are pronounced w/a k... but what about "chaos"?]
Eureka! What I learned is that where the "ch" is borrowed into French from a Greek word, it's pronounced "k" in Fr as in Gr. (Grr, all these yrs I've been pronouncing "chaos" "shah -o" instead of "kah-o"!). But this helps a lot. Even tho I don't know Gr, I'm fairly up on Gr word roots as they relate to Eng.
Next challenge - & it's a big one: when do you elide the "s" or "t" word-ending to the next word that begins w/ vowel? I find myself auto-correcting my studs on this most of the time, but I think there's a good 25% I'm not sure of.
And after that -- rare situations, but nagging: which are the Fr words where final "s" is pronounced??
Not always; machine and schisme have /ʃ/. I was going to say that if it is /k/ in English it is /k/ in French but obviously it is not that simple.This message has been edited. Last edited by: goofy,
Love that you're posting here, Bethree, but French is not my forte. When I was in France, Shu was my interpreter.
Was X always pronounced one way in Greek? Like French, Russian borrowed chaos from Greek (xaoc in Russian) and it's pronounced "ha-ose."
In Ancient Greek χ probably represented /kʰ/ a velar aspirated stop that sounded like the first consonant in English "can". In modern Greek it is /x/ a velar fricative. I believe Russian also has a velar fricative that is spelled х.
Listen to Greek fricatives
Edit: fixed the IPAThis message has been edited. Last edited by: goofy,
Remember Museamuse? We could use her! Besides, she was fun! Alas, so many have left.
Got some input from a French thread discussing this.
Several theories, each w/plenty of examples & some exceptions.
1. The usual point, that most technical words borrowed from Greek via Latin spell the Greek X "ch" in French but retain the "k" sound from Greek & Latin.
2. Technical words borrowed from Greek/ Latin by Old or Middle French (like "chimie" [chemistry] -- or "machine" first seen in Fr doct 14thc --) were "Frenchified" [k became sh]; in recent centuries such borrowings nearly always retain the k sound, especially for rarely-used words of art.
3. A further refinement: when followed by i or y (e.g. in the Gr letter X, or 'khi' itself), the k sound is palatalized & most often rendered as sh in French. This theory says never mind "psychiatriste" because 'i' is a half-vowel there; think 'Achille,' 'psychique,' 'chimère,' -- ' schisme ' -- et al.
Another commenter clarifies: Greek X (or khi) is not pronounced with k but rather with that hissy almost gutteral sound you hear in Spanish j, German ch, Arabic kh [see goofy above for correct terminology ] - which he claims usually becomes soft ch in Fr (i.e. our sh). But obviously tons of exceptions, perhaps mostly categorized as technical words borrowed since 1700 or so).
One person says it is due to the time the word was borrowed and whether or not it was a scholarly word. I think this is true. French /k/ had become /ʃ/ in certain conditions by about 1300. So capitulum became chapitre, canis became chien, and chimaera with /k/ became chimère with /ʃ/. This happened to all words unless scholars pronounced a Greek-borrowed word differently in an attempt to preserve its Greekness.
My guess is that psychiatre has /k/ because it was adapted from Greek at a later time, or because it was scholarly, or both.
I think the modern Greek pronunciation of χ as a velar fricative is irrelevant to French.This message has been edited. Last edited by: goofy,
That's not right. /k/ became /s/ before /i/ and /e/, so ceresia became cerise and cīsellum became ciseau. I don't know why chimère and chimie have /ʃ/ instead of /s/.
Thanks for all that good input, goofy.
How do we know that the ancient Greeks pronounced the X as a hard k rather than velar fricative?
Because of commentary on pronunciation that was written at the time. The sounds spelled θ φ χ were described as being aspirated stops.
And because of how borrowed words were spelled in other languages, and based on comparison with related languages.This message has been edited. Last edited by: goofy,