chthonic
Posted: 07 November 2017 12:15 PM   [ Ignore ]
Moderator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  230
Joined  2007-02-24

Why does the “ch” in front of “chthonic” remain in this word? It is not pronounced as far as I can tell, so would appear purposeless.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 November 2017 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4491
Joined  2007-01-29

It’s etymological.  You may have noticed that English contains many etymological (and apparently purposeless) spellings.  This gives ammunition to many spelling reformers (aka “nuts").

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 November 2017 06:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  230
Joined  2007-02-24

Let evolution proceed.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 November 2017 07:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1577
Joined  2007-03-21
languagehat - 07 November 2017 12:38 PM

It’s etymological.  You may have noticed that English contains many etymological (and apparently purposeless) spellings.  This gives ammunition to many spelling reformers (aka “nuts").

Right!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 November 2017 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6297
Joined  2007-01-03

It is pronounced /k/ according to the OED and Oxford dictionaries, but not according to Merriam-Webster or American Heritage, so that may represent a British-American split. Languagehat is right, it’s etymological; the root is the Greek χθών.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone actually use the word, much less pronounce it, but I am quite familiar with the Lovecraftian Chthulu, which is derived from chthonic, and which definitely is pronounced with a /kθ/ consonant cluster at the front.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 November 2017 05:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4491
Joined  2007-01-29

Chthulhu was the first thing that came into my head when I saw this post.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 November 2017 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3968
Joined  2007-02-26

Have to admit, I’ve read this word but never heard or said it, and I assumed it started with the /k/ sound.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 November 2017 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3458
Joined  2007-01-31

It’s interesting to note that Lovecraft didn’t intend for Chthulhu to be pronounced with a /kθ/ sound; the h’s are intended to indicate a sort of aspiration, and not as parts of the English digraphs for χ and θ.  Also, the u’s weren’t really intended to be /u/ as in fool, although I’d have to go back to my copy of The Annotated Lovecraft to get the intended values.  Nevertheless, almost everyone pronounces it /kθulu/. It was Lovecraft’s conceit that the name was not meant to be pronounced by the human vocal system and could only be approximated anyway, so for the sake of being understood, I have taken the descriptivist position and go along with the herd on this one.

And yes, it comes up reasonably often in the circles I travel in.  One of my friends has a 7-8 ft statue of Chthulhu in his front yard; the sculptor is a mutual acquaintance.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 November 2017 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  471
Joined  2007-02-17
OP Tipping - 09 November 2017 08:02 AM

Have to admit, I’ve read this word but never heard or said it, and I assumed it started with the /k/ sound.

Same here. I wonder if anyone has actually dropped the word into conversation.

[ Edited: 10 November 2017 10:38 PM by kurwamac ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 November 2017 04:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Moderator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  230
Joined  2007-02-24

This oriental band uses it as their name:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jYsu5-TJQ8

Not my type of music. I ran across it in an editorial on one of the news sites I go to daily. Maybe it is making a comeback.

[ Edited: 10 November 2017 04:43 AM by Eyehawk ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 November 2017 05:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4491
Joined  2007-01-29

It’s a Taiwanese heavy metal band.  Not into heavy metal myself.

Profile