In a discussion about how one should pronounce "algae", someone used the argument than in English, "ga" is never pronounced with a soft "g". Is this true? On the moment I couldn't find any examples, even from latin origin.

Interestingly, according to the wiktionary the /ˈal.d͡ʒe/ pronunciation comes from Ecclesiastical Latin, while Classical Latin uses /ˈal.ɡae̯/. That means there could be more examples from Ecclesiastical Latin.

While researching I found this question, that only focuses on one word but still gives 2 examples, "margarine" and the dated "gaol". Both seem to be exception. Are there other examples?

Is it correct to say that "ga" is almost never pronounced with a /dʒ/ in English?

  • You seem to have answered your own question. There is a specific question here about margarine with a soft g although it's not terribly conclusive. You explain "algae", and you can easily find the history of "gaol" online.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 10:25
  • @StuartF My main question is "are the any other examples", which remains open. Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 11:24
  • 1
    margarine is a soft g. I'm sure there will be other examples that don't rely on the "trick" of using ae (which in some typefaces and some words is a single character anyway). Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 18:12
  • Is it correct to say that "ga" is almost never pronounced with a /dʒ/ in English? In English, you will find that there are no cases of "always" and "never".
    – Greybeard
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 9:43
  • The name "Gamal" satisfies your requirement if you consider it "English". Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 11:50

1 Answer 1


You ask: are there any other examples?

There's also epigaea, the Latin genus name for trailing arbutus (also called mayflower).

Like algae, this pronunciation arises from the Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation of the Latin letter combination gae.

  • 2
    Yes, classical ae /ai/ changed to /e/ in Vulgar Latin and later in medieval Latin, as well as the Romance languages. And before a front vowel, velars like /ɡ/ would palatalize in many words. Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 17:35

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.