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G (letter)

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G, g is a letter of the Latin alphabet. It is the seventh letter of most variants, being placed after F and before H, as is the case for instance in the English alphabet. Its English name is pronounced [ˈdʒiː], that is gee as in gee up.

Use in English

Use in English
Alphabetical word list
Retroalphabetical list  
Common misspellings  

See also GH

g is pronounced in the throat, a voiced k as in kíng (compare gâte and Kâte: the accents show stress and pronunciation: see English spellings); or it is pronounced like j in júg (d sound followed by the zh sound: IPA ).

Like c, it has two sounds, hard before back vowels, and usually soft (= j) before front vowels. Unlike c, though, whose soft equivalent is s, and which has two hard equivalents in k and q, there is no other letter that sounds like hard g.

Hard g, the voiced k: goòd, dóg, guàrd, gúm, ágony, guést, bíg, píg, wríggle, squíggle, égg, flág, ság, Péggy, regâle.

Words beginning with gu- plus a front vowel, e, i or y, have the hard sound; the u is written to show this, and is itself silent: guîde, guínea, guéss, guést, guŷ, guílty (cf. hard final-sound g followed by silent -ue in lêague, plâgue) - similarly, hard gh- in ghôst, ghoûlish, ghāstly.

Soft g, sounding like j, is found before front vowels e, i and y medially often preceded by a d following a short vowel: George, gín, gŷroscope, géntleman, geriátric, giráffe, Gërmany, hédge, lódge, cúdgel, brídge, egrêgious, édgy, pâge, Nîgel, wâge.

Soft g is rarely doubled, but it is in exággerate.

But g before e and i is hard in some words, often at the beginning: gíve, gét, gíbbon, gízzard, gíg, gíld gold (= guíld society), gíll fish (cf. soft g in gíll quarter pint = Jíll person), gíddy, begín, and beginning the last syllable in Háringèy = Hárringây.

g has the simple zh sound (without the usual d sound preceding it) only in the name of the former French colony Nigér (*Nìzhér). The name of the river and delta, also spelt Nîger, and the former British colony Nigêria both have the normal j (-dzh-) sound of g - and a different î sound.

g is always soft in penultimate position before e: áverage, bínge, although there is an alternative spelling of renègue, renège, keeping its hard g sound.

For a hard g before final e, a French-style ending is required, -gue, where the -ue is silent: lêague, intrìgue, plâgue, vâgue, Hâgue (similarly with -que).

Before suffixes, hard g is doubled to keep the preceding vowel short: dígging, pégging, lágging, fóggy, dóggie, dógged, béggar, rúgger and also finally in égg and in surnames: Clégg, Hógg = hóg animal, Wrágg = rág cloth, Rígg = ríg ship and before final s in Bíggs.

There is a soft g in dúngeon, *dúnjən, and díngy dirty, *dínjy; dínghy boat has the ng sound, with or without a g sound following it, depending on the speaker. Hard g is gh in spaghétti, ghôul, ghôst.

g begins consonant clusters: glûe, ignŏre (g sounded, cf. gnôme garden = Nõme Alaska), grêen.

Although pronounced after the í in ignŏre, g is often silent before n (cf. k in knôw) initially: gnôme, gnåw, or, more often, medially after a long vowel or diphthong: sîgn (cf. sígnal, g pronounced) resîgn, desîgn, impûgn, dèign, rèign monarch (= râin wet), campâign, and after an unstressed vowel in fóreign; and sometimes, from French, -gne: champâgne, colôgne. And there is a similar Italian g in laságnê *ləzányi.

g also combines to form the eccentric digraph gh.