Message from discussion WotD: Reliquary
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Fri, 26 Oct 2012 14:43:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: Will Parsons <oud...@nodomain.invalid>
Subject: Re: WotD: Reliquary
Date: 26 Oct 2012 21:43:33 GMT
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John W Kennedy wrote:
> On 2012-10-26 11:44:02 +0000, Ed Cryer said:
>> Johannes Patruus wrote:
>> Quoted from the definition;
>> The u in Middle French reliquaire is purely graphic, as also in English
>> relique , variant of relic n. The modern pronunciation of the English
>> word with /w/ (recorded already in 18th-cent. sources) probably arose
>> as a result of association with post-classical Latin reliquiarium or
>> with classical Latin reliquiae relics (see relic n.).
>> I know that modern French pronounces "qu" as "k"; but there's a
>> suggestion in the above that the /w/ sound in English only came in
>> quite recently.
>> How recently?
>> And how about classical Latin pronunciation? How did Cicero pronounce
>> his brother's name; Quintus?
> Definitely as "kw-". The whole reason that the letter Q survives in
> Latin (it was deleted from Greek) is the recognition by those who
> adapted the alphabet to Latin that the "k" sound in "kw-" is sounded
> further back in the mouth. In the West Semitic languages (as is still
> the case in Arabic -- thus, such words as "Iraq"), "k" and "q" were
> distinct phonemes, although they are allophones in most Western
> languages. Apparently, in Archaic Latin, they either were not
> allophones, or were allophones that were nevertheless recognized as two
> distinct phones even by non-specialists, like the two sounds of "ch" in
> Modern German.
I'm not sure if that necessarily follows. After all, English uses the
"qu" combination when from a purely phonemic point of view it could be
replaced with "kw" (or "cw"), because it inherited the graphical
combination from Latin and French. In Latin, too, it may be due to its
use in Etruscan/Greek that Latin took it over, and has no phonemic
significance. It does have a marginal utility in distinguishing a few
words, such as "qui" /kwi/ from "cui" /kui/.