Via Crooked Timber, a comic-strip style overview of the rules of cricket [.pdf] — in French. Published, in fact, by the Fédération Française de Basketball - Softball & Cricket. Not only did I understand everything (wow!), including the very strange point about the defending team being the one that tries to destroy the wicket, but I even had a vocabulary- and phonology-related revelation: The word wicket is historically the same as the French noun guichet! In contemporary French, a guichet is a booth or a counter, for example the guichet of a metro station, where you can buy tickets from a real human being. Originaly it signified a small door or opening in a monumental door, a wall or a fortification.

The correspondence between /w/ in English and /g/ in French (always pronounced [g], thus the u after the g in guichet) is very well-known: it is the trace of a regular sound shift. Examples are war - guerre, Wales - (Pays des) Galles, wasp - guêpe (the accent mark indicates a lost /s/), William - Guillaume, warden - gardien, waffle - gaufre, and probably quite a few I can’t remember.

I’m also unclear about when this shift happened or indeed which came first. But to narrow it down a little, these are not French words absorbed by English, but some of the relatively rare words of Germanic origin in French. The TLFi entry for guichet indicates that it was already present in Old French and has a first cite from the early 12th century.

4 comment(s) for 'wicket = guichet!'

  1. (Comment, 2005-12-07 07:27 )

    And even within English, thanks to fun borrowing: ward/guard, warant(ee)/guarantee (and of course war/guerilla, and many more no doubt). Borrowing a-plenty, and other complications probably that I’m not aware of.

  2. (Comment, 2005-12-07 11:21 )
    #2 — edda

    Übertragung von D in It: welfisch (papsttreu) in guelfo samt waiblingerisch (Stauferburg Waiblingen) in ghibellino seit dem Jahr 1000 etwa - Grüße DE

  3. (Comment, 2005-12-08 08:58 )

    This is hard to say

  4. (Comment, 2006-12-17 02:22 )

    en fait un wicket est un guichet quand on le fait tomber.Pour un guichet encore droit on parle plutot de stumps.Par exemple on plante les stumps avnat le jeu mais lorsqu’un joueur en élimine un autre il obtient un wicket.