thank you internets

March 18, 2008 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

So I noticed on a news site that I was reading yesterday that the Boston Celtics were playing on St. Patrick’s Day. As many times as I’ve heard the name, never until that moment had I ever wondered about why it’s pronounced sel-tiks instead of kel-tiks. Did this musing bug me until I found a satisfying answer? You know it did. I don’t care what anyone says, Wikipedia makes me happy.

From an entry entitled “Pronunciation of Celtic

The word is believed to have originated in an early Continental Celtic language, but it comes to us from Greek (Keltoi), where it is spelled with a kappa; thus /k/ is the original pronunciation. This was borrowed into Latin (Celtae), where it was likewise pronounced /k/. However in Mediaeval Latin, the letter <c>, originally pronounced /k/, shifted to /s/, a process known as palatalization, and many words and names borrowed from Latin into English after this sound shift are pronounced this way: centre, Cicero, et cetera. Thus /s/ is the inherited pronunciation in English. For additional discussion see Latin pronunciation.

Until the mid-20th century, Celtic was usually pronounced with /s/ in English except by academics, but the pronunciation with /k/ has been gaining ground rapidly. Following the usage of philologists, /k/ is now almost invariably used with reference to Celtic languages even in non-academic contexts. It is also the more popular pronunciation when talking about most other aspects of Celtic culture. However /s/ remains the only recognised pronunciation of the word when it occurs in the names of sports teams, most notably Celtic Football Club and the Boston Celtics basketball team; as these are proper names, the traditional pronunciation is entrenched.

So there you go! I’ve added another useless random fact to the trivia cache in my mind and now so have you. You’re welcome.

btw, don’t you miss those shorty-shorts the basketball players used to wear?


Entry filed under: nerdiness.

in rotation Emily Cash

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