I noticed that with some words and names I said, I’d never had to say them out loud before. I normally just type them. So for instance, I don’t know how people pronounce XYZZY (if people ever agreed?). I tried ‘zizzy’.
I’m with Victor on xyzzy = “ksízzi”. I usually pronounce plugh with a voiced velar fricative, a bit like the ‘ach’ sound in German but with voicing added, or the gamma in modern Greek. And plover is pronounced like the bird.
Jeff: I’ve heard that the ‘ich’ sound is a voiceless palatal fricative, like the Japanese ひ? (The tongue is in the same position as to pronounce a ‘j’/‘y’ sound.) When I think of the uvular fricative I usually think of the French ‘r’ after a consonant.
I’m a bit surprised about the “zizzy”, but that might be my ignorance. Are there any English words that start with an “x” but are pronounced with a “z”? Do people also say “Zantippe” and “zylophone” and “zenophobia”?
Actually… all of the words in English that start with an X are pronounced with a Z.
Only exceptions I can think are is X-ray and Xbox. In the first case, the hyphen indicates that it’s a stand-alone letter (like T-shirt), and the second was designed by Microsoft and doesn’t follow normal rules.
(I know someone’s going to produce a counterexample. I confess that I phrased it as “all” because I knew someone would want to. Bring it!)
Other than the exceptions Carolyn mentioned, the only words I can think of that begin with a sound like the letter x are words that actually begin with “ex” (excited, exponent, exclude, extreme, Excalibur…).
In my head I think of xyzzy as a sequence of letters: X-Y-Z-Z-Y.
Draconis: I don’t know Japanese, so I can’t say whether that kana has the same pronunciation as I intend. When I pronounce German ‘ich’, it’s in the back of the throat, like “ach”, but just a little less glottal, so that it sorta hisses instead of sounding rough. The German I was taught was supposedly Hochdeutsch; I won’t say that Plattdeutsch or Schweitzerdeutsch are the same.
I can’t think of many ‘native’ English words beginning with X that are not pronounced like Z. There are some trademarks (Xacto) and abbreviations (X-axis, XML) where it’s pronounced /ɛks/, and some borrowings from other languages (Xinyang with a /ʃ/, xalam with a /x/, Xhosa with a /k‖/, xu with a /s/), but those don’t really count.
The only examples I can think of for word-initial X being pronounced /ks/ are the re-borrowing “xenia”, and the relatively recent coinage “xor” (contracted from ex-or, from exclusive-or).
Interesting. I will take your word for it–I don’t know very much German myself and my knowledge comes mostly from reading, so the actual pronunciation is quite strange to me.
Interesting. I’d like to hear from a native German speaker on this: I was taught that “ich” has the same sound as the English “fish”, while “Buch” for example has that sound like the Scottish “loch”, that I’m guessing you’re talking about.
On the topic of Xyzzy, I think I’d have said “xenophobia” and “xylophone” correctly without ever having thought about it if I would say the words in English, but I’ll stick to pronouncing xyzzy like a foreigner, starting with the k sound. (I don’t think I’ve ever said xyzzy though, in English or in my native tongue.)
I’m not a native German speaker, but at least I live in the neighbouring country. “Ich” definitely does not sound like “fish”. Its “ch” is pronounced more softly than the “ch” in “Ach”, I’d say, because it’s natural to say it further up front in the mouth. There are probably regional variations within Germany, but I’ve never heard anything sounding like “fish”.
I personally use ‘zizzy’, but I’m not dogmatic about it.
(No thread about the pronunciation of IF nonsense-words would be complete without mentioning my favourite pronunciation of Quixe: I always assumed was ‘quick-see’, but certain persons amuse themselves by pronouncing it as ‘quiche’.)