Which and Falaqa

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Dec 4 14:28:27 UTC 2002

Why the affectation of "wh" in "who," "why," "which," whether,"
etc...? Why the affectation of "oe" in Goethe? Are all spellings
which do not phonemically represent English (leaving the question
which English aside since Michigan English is obviously to be
preferred) pronunciations affectations?


>More generic than just "falaqa", actually.  Why do we
>use "q" instead of "k" in rendering Arabic into
>English?  Why Qatar, which I've heard pronounced on
>the BBC news as more like "gutar" or even "gutter",
>instead of Katar?  The sound in Arabic is presumably
>distinct from the English "k" sound, but it usually
>becomes simply "k" in English, whether the "q" or "k"
>is used to represent it.  If it's closer to "g" than
>"k", why not use the "g"?  Why this seeming
>affectation for "q" in English rendering or borrowing
>of Arabic?
>James D. SMITH                 |If history teaches anything
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>jsmithjamessmith at yahoo.com     |whether we act quickly and decisively
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Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
      Asian & African Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
e-mail: preston at msu.edu
phone: (517) 353-9290

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