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Just how do you pronounce "Quaich"?

a not too serious consideration

Quaich or Quake?
If you google Quaich you will frequently find is stated that it is pronounced "quake". Now I have always found this to be curious. Growing up in scotland I have never heard it pronounced in this manner except by other nationalities. Recently an english friend told me that she used to pronounce it with the soft "ch" until a linguist told her that it should have a hard "k"! This got me wondering, are us natives pronouncing it wrong? Anyway, I thought about it for a while and I now have a theory.


Some point to ponder:
1. I have noticed that that people from some parts of england seem unable to pronounce words with a glottal stop. You can hear this when they struggle with certain Germanic words like "Freibourg" or Hispanic - "Juan" or indeed the classic scots "loch".


2. There is a long tradition of mistranslation of scots words by english speaking authors. Scotlands only Lake is an example. Laigh (meaning low) seems to have been recorded as "lake". The author assuming that it was a quirk of dialect rather than a word with a distinct and different meaning. This resulted in the creation of Lake Menteith.


3. The spelling of quaich has evolved over time. It seems to be an anglification of the gaelic cuach, which itself seems seems to be dervived from the latin caucus. In Murrays 1914 "New English Dictionary on Historical Principals" quaich includes the following alternative spellings - quaigh, quech, quegh, queich and quoich. These all appear to me to be attempts at spelling a word that people know how to say, but not spell.


4. Other words with similar endings. I can't think of any scots word ending in ch or gh preceded by a vowel that ends with a hard "K". Weech, Keech, loch, broch, and laigh, all end with a soft "ch". A browse through the dialect dictionary will also show that ch and gh or often used in alternative spellings.


5. Quake or Quaike is is used in scots dialect to refer to a hiefer (didn't know that myself) or as in "quakin bog" a raised marsh.


6. is it ock eye, or och aye?


7. at a ceilidh do you hooch (as in illegal spirit), hook (as in captain), or heugh? (an another word with no english equivalent)

My own conclusion is that given that the gaelic "ch" is pronounced as in loch and that "gh" has no equivalent in english it is likely that the "quake" or "qwak" is an attempt to reproduce a vocal sound that has no equivalent in english.

Us poor scots never having had to look up how to pronounce the word, didn't realise that all the visitors were trying to pronounce it the way they read it should be said.
As for web sites you should remember that most web pages about quaichs are all copied from each other, and so they tend to peddle the same myths.

After all if you read it on Wikipedia it must be true ;-)

 

 

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