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Why is ch pronounced as "Q", as in choir, and are there any other instances where ch is used as the letter "Q"?

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marked as duplicate by tchrist, aedia λ, David M, MrHen, Bradd Szonye Mar 27 '14 at 23:24

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this explains it pretty well –  msam Mar 25 '14 at 17:06
Note that "ch" here on its own is pronounced /k/. It is the following letters that adds the /w/ sound to make /kw/, which is one of the sounds that the letter "q" makes. (Interestingly, the other sound that "q" on its own makes is /k/, as in "antique"). So there are no instances of "ch" on its own being /kw/, but plenty where "ch" is /k/. –  nxx Mar 25 '14 at 17:11
Related (use of Q for CH) ... modern transliteration of Chinese. Now we write Qin Dynasty and not the old way Chin Dynasty ... –  GEdgar Mar 25 '14 at 17:11
One assumes you're talking about English spelling, not Pinyin. In English, Q and K are always pronounced alike, as /k/. C and CH are sometimes pronounced /k/, too. This post explains the situation with C, and this one explains the situation with CH. –  John Lawler Mar 25 '14 at 17:33
@nxx It's not the letters following that adds the /w/ sound, no other 'cho' words that I can think of are pronounced /kw/, and the only other 'choi' word (choice) is pronounced with a soft 'ch'. The answer seems to be in msam's link, that it came from the French cuer. So it seems reasonable to suppose that any other words derived from French 'cue' words would be pronounced /kw/, maybe in the middle of a word rather than the beginning. But I can't think of one. –  Mynamite Mar 25 '14 at 21:57

1 Answer 1

There are many examples of words where ch is pronounced /k/ including chemistry, character, chaos, mechanic, technology, anchor, Christ, stomach and so on.

The "ch" in classical Greece was pronounced as a voiceless velar plosive, which is the sound you mentioned, so this is an older linguistic form of the "ch" pronunciation that pre-dates the sounds we more often apply to the characters today (as in "chill").

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None of these have the "kw" sound that appears at the begining of choir, though. –  James McLeod Mar 25 '14 at 19:14
"School" is the closest thing that I can think of off the top of my head, though that doesn't quite match either. –  teepee Mar 25 '14 at 20:27
"Schedule"doesn't either. –  Elian Mar 25 '14 at 22:56
Good point. Depends who you ask ... –  teepee Mar 25 '14 at 23:00

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