2 thoughts on “ælmes-æcer

  1. Hi Hana,
    I have a nagging question that I’ve been meaning to ask. Are there pronunciation exceptions to the ‘c’ and ‘g’ before front vowels (‘e’ and ‘i’) rules? Guide sources in books and on the internet say to pronounce them as ‘ch’ and ‘y’ respectively, but today’s word ‘ælmes-æcer’ shows a ‘k’ sound and bucks that trend. If you can enlighten me on this matter, I would be very grateful. I really enjoy your word of the day tweets and always look forward to them!

    Cheers,
    Sam

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    • That’s a good question, Sam. You are right, most often c and g are palatalized before e and i, but there are indications from alternate spellings of words in Old English texts that this is not always the case. When I see an OE word that appears related to a modern English word (in this case, “acre”) and that word goes against general OE pronunciation rules, I do a bit of investigating. The Toronto Dictionary of Old English shows that æker and æcyr were alternative spellings of æcer, both of which would definitely be pronounced with hard c (k-sound). From this I know that the word was definitely pronounced with a hard c in some regions of England. It may also have been pronounced with a palatalized c (ch), but I’ve opted for a hard k since I have proof from alternative spellings that it *was* actually pronounced that way.

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