Ascian
Posted: 01 November 2017 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I understand that the proper pronunciation of this OE word is /ɑskiən/ (or something like it).  Are there other OE words where the ‘sc’ is pronounced /sk/ rather than /ʃ/?

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Posted: 01 November 2017 04:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think that’s the only one—or at least the only such work of any significance, there may be some Old Norse imports hanging about—and ascian is not the most common form of the verb. It’s axian.

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Posted: 01 November 2017 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I wonder how it was determined that ascian is pronounced with a /k/.

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Posted: 02 November 2017 03:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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OP Tipping - 01 November 2017 05:08 PM

I wonder how it was determined that ascian is pronounced with a /k/.

Exactly my question.  if it was pronounced with the sc pronounced the way it usually is axe me would be the correct form and ask me the solecism.

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Posted: 02 November 2017 04:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Exactly how the pronunciations have been determined has always been a mystery to me. I don’t think that anyone alive today was part of the decision making.

But it looks to me as if it happened this way. There are three main forms of the verb going back to the medieval era (see the OED forms for ask, v.) There are two forms from OE, ascian and axian (achsian in the OED) and one in ME aische. The OED indicates the ascian form developed into the modern ask. It’s probably not that clean, with metathesis over the years mixing the forms, a lot of swapping back and forth.

As for the actual OE pronunciation, it’s not beyond the realm of possiblity that the <c> in ascian was pronounced /tʃ/ rather than the standard claim that it was/k/, leading to a consistent rule without the pesky exception for this word. But there is a consistent chain of spelling with a <k> since the early Middle English era, which would lead one to think the pronunciation was indeed /k/. And there is the axian form, which would be pronounced /ks/. So the /k/ sound is the most likely in this case.

[ Edited: 02 November 2017 04:38 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 02 November 2017 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The following link has an article about the pronunciation of “ask” amongst the African American community:

http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/19/opinion/la-oe-mcwhorter-black-speech-ax-20140119

From the article: “There is an element of chance in how words change over time, and we will never know why “aks” and “ash” lost out to “ask.” All we know is that the people whose English was designated the standard happened to be among those who said “ask” instead of “aks” — and the rest is history.”

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