The letter "C" in English

The letter “C” of course doesn’t have a sound of its own but borrows from “K” and “S."


“C” is more common than “K” by the way. I know that from my job at a reading school and my own research. “C” is most often pronounced like “K” but borrows from “S” when it’s followed by “I, e,” or “y” (an exception being the word soccer). Really the only unique contribution “C” makes to our language is when it’s paired with “H” as in “ch” (but can sound like “K” in words of Greek origin: anchor, or “sh” in words of French origin: chef). Occasionally it breaks the rules when paired with “E” or “I” as in “ocean” or “glacier”.

Sometimes it’s silent: muscle.

“C” and “G” are very closely related. Not just in shape, of course, but in sound as well. Physically, the tongue moves the same way to produce both sounds. The difference is that “G” is voiced, and “C” is not (the vocal chords vibrate to produce the noisy “G” sound). “G” also can turn soft (make the “J” sound) when “I,e” and “Y” come after it (but it doesn’t have to).




Comments

Wow, that was really neat. I can't believe I never noticed that before. This was a very informative, not to mention interesting post! Thanks.
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. :)
Rionna Morgan said…
I really enjoyed your post. I have always loved linguistics and syntax--English major. :) This is right up my alley! I too enjoy the letter C, and I too have a daughter with a C name--Corinn.

All the best,
Rionna Morgan
Thanks so much for dropping by. :)
Rionna Morgan said…
Hello, Laura. I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for following my blog and liking me on Facebook. And I wanted to take you up on your offer to be featured on your blog.

I am thinking it might be easier to converse through e-mail. Mine is rionnamorgan@gmail.com.

I look forward to chatting with you.

Best,
Rionna
Anonymous said…
Interesting, though you make good points, I am against the 'c/g' entirely. To me it should only make the 'ch' sound, and the 'g' only a hard sound. We already have /k/, /s/, and /j/ sounds. And Latin was based on Greek, a languaj in which the gamma made only a /g/. I know the 'q' makes the same sound a 'k' does, but at least it has a solid sound. But c and g are indesisive, the quote "To be or not to be," STRONGLY deskribes those letters.
Anonymous said…
I would also like to add that the 'c' in 'muscle' has the /s/ property. So the sound produced in it is much more like /mus-s'l/ or if alone /ss/ like the German 'ß.'
Crimson Ananda said…
Very informational but I still don't like C :)

I also have qualms with the existence of X. We have -ks and we have -z so why do we need X? ;)
. said…
I would like to add that "c" looks similar to the Hebrew letter Kaph "כ" (no dagesh), which represents /kχ/, or /k/ with a dagesh (dot in the middle). The only difference is that it is the other way round, but Hebrew & Greek used to have 2 readings: left to right & right to left; & they would tell between them by which way round the letters were. Left-right stuck in Greek whereas right-left stuck in Hebrew.
Very interesting. Thank you.
Unknown said…
I like it, I am a foreigner and sometimes I find in my language weird words and I wonder how to explain why they built like that, also sometimes it makes me laugh. Even I know so much about my language, sometimes I think how to teach my laungage?:))) Thank you, I really enjoyed time reading this blog:)

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