G littera

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G Littera utuntur greci cum omnibus vocalibus sicut nos et gama vocant, hoc tamen inter est quando duo .g. in eadem dictione sibi iuxta scribuntur primum assumit sonum littere .n. nam scribunt aggelos et proferunt angelos. Similiter si .g. antecedit cappa quod est .k. eundem .n. assumit sonum, arabice vero habent litteram gim que semper sonat ut nomen eius ostendit in quam multe dictiones desinunt ut xeitarag et ut proprius exprimeretur vere prolationi addiderunt translatores litteram .i. et dixerunt xeitaragi. Aliam vero litteram habent quam vocant gaim et sonat ut nomen ostendit que si finalis venit sine .i. scribenda est ut dimag.


Littera AC f | littera ms. e | Litera B

vocalibus (uo- B; -us C) ABC e | vocabulis f

{sicut} et add. f

gama ABC f | gãma ms. e

{inter} est om. f

sibi AC | sunt go {= ergo} e | om. B f

littere (-ere ms. e) AB e | lettere C | li͡e f

antecedit AC | antecedat (a͡nce- f) B f | antecedet ms. e

cappa ABC | kappa ef

eundem (eũd- e; dẽ A) .n. AC e | eundeʒ e͡m f | eiusdẽ n B

arabice C | arabici A | arabes B ef g im AC ef | gin B

vt (ut B) nomẽ eius ABC | ut no͡m eius f | ut eius nomẽ ms. e

{ut nomen eius} ostendit-( ẽdit BC) ABC | o͡ndt f | oportet ms. e

multe AC | ml'te B f | ml'tis ms. e

xeitarag ABC f | xegitarag ms. e

prolationi (-tiõi B e) ABC e | probaco͡͡i f

addiderunt (-rũt AB) AB ef | addirunt C {typesetting error}

gaim AB e | gaiʒ C | gam or gain f

{ut nomen} ostendit AC e | hostẽdit B |o͡ndt f

Ms. e adds the text of the next entry q.v. with the headword lacking the initial: <G>Abira pro guberia scripsit stephanus et est mespila.


The Greeks use the letter "g" with all vowels as we do, and they call it gama. But if there are two g's in the same word written next to each other the first assumes the sound of /n/; thus they write aggelos but pronounce it /angelos/. Similarly if "g" stands before cappa, which is "k", it assumes that same sound of /n/.

In Arabic they have the letter gim, which always sounds like its name indicates. Many words end in "g" like xeitarag, and so that it is pronounced more properly the translators have tended to add the letter "I" and pronounce it xeitaragi. They also have another letter which they call gaim and it sounds like its name indicates, which when it stands word-finally must be written without "I", like dimag.


GREEK: Simon comments on the Greek spelling habit whereby if gamma γ, i.e. "g" stands before /g, k, kh, x (=ks)/ it is pronounced /n/. His example is ἄγγελος /ággelos = ángelos/ {"messenger, angel"}, see also his entries Enkauseos, i.e. ἐγκαύσεως /egkaúseōs = enkaúseōs/ {"heat-stroke"}, Rhincho, i.e. ῥύγχοϛ /rhýgkhos = rhýnkhos/ {"snout, muzzle, beak, bill"} and Larinx i.e. λάρυγξ /lárygx = lárynx/ {"upper part of the windpipe"}.


From a language historical view-point it is interesting to remark that Simon does not mention the spirantization of Γ,γ = /g/ as observed in Modern Greek: e.g. γάτα /gáta/ "cat" where the "g" is pronounced like Spanish "g" in "lago" or in North German "Wagen", but when followed by ε, αι,η, ι,υ,ει, οι it sounds like the "y" in English "yes", cf. γένος, pronounced /yénos/ "genus". This is in stark contrast to his shrewd phonetic observation on Greek beta where he says: B litteram greci vita vocant et in sono .u. consonantis proferunt - "The Greeks' name for the letter B is vita and in sound they pronounce it like a consonant /v/", see B littera. Similarly concerning Greek delta, he says: sine quadam sui aspiratione non proferunt delta - "They do not pronounce delta without a certain aspiration", cf. D Littera. Simon is obviously aware of the spirantization of these voiced stops, but he does not mention anything similar with gamma. Could this mean that even as late as by his time the spirantization of this stop had not yet been fully accepted?

ARABIC: The words quoted by Simon are Siggel (1950: 47): ﺷﻴﻂﺮﺥ ,ﺳﻴﻂﺮﺥ /šīṭarağ, sīṭarağ/ Lepidium latifolium (Cruscif.) Kresse {i.e. "Pepperwort"}; and Wehr (1976): ﺩﻣﺎﻍ /dimāḡ/ "brain".

Here Simon comments on the pronunciations associated with the Arabic letters gim and gaim. ﺥ ﺟﻳﻢ /ğīm/ is the 5th letter of the Arabic alphabet. It is the sound found in initial and final position in English judge. In classical Arabic the letter ğīm represents this sound, but in a number of dialects some variation is encountered, e.g. in Egyptian Arabic it is given the "hard" /g/ sound as in "game".

Simon's transcription of the Arabic word with initial "I" or "j" - the two were not yet distinguished in writing - is an attempt to express the affricate pronunciation of /ğazar/, i.e. the sound in English "judge". See also Simon's own comments e.g. in his entry Gezar. In the spelling of Italian in Simon's time this sound would commonly have been written as 'i', e.g. iorno "day", which today is written: giorno.

The other Arabic letter mentioned is ﻍ ﻏﻴﻦ /ġain/, the 19th letter in the alphabet. The sound does not exist in Modern English but was prominent in Old and Middle English and is the same sound as Modern Greek gamma in γάτα /gáta/ "cat", as mentioned above. The sound is often wrongly perceived by speakers unfamiliar with it as a hard /g/. The phonetician Gairdner (1925: 26), gives the following {not too helpful} advice on the pronunciation, p. 26 {with minor changes}: If the student can pronounce the "ch" in Scotch "loch" correctly (not with the velar scrape) and then voices the fricative, ﻍ /ḡain/ results. Another plan is to think of the sound /g/, but to pronounce lazily, so that the contact is not quite complete. Or listen to a very young baby saying "ghoo".

Simon's transcription advice is therefore: if an Arabic word ends in ﺥ /ğīm/ {i.e. the sound in "judge"} it should be written "gi"; if it ends in ﻍ /ḡain/ it should be written "g" only. However, some witnesses do not always follow Simon's advice, e.g. they write Dimagi, cf. Dimag, q.v.

WilfGunther 18/11/13

See also: Dimag, Sceitaragi, Sitaregum

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