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.


right-hook v

Via Bridget Samuels at ilani ilani: The IPA council has adopted the first new phonetic symbol in twelve years. SIL explains that the “right hook v” will symbolise a labiodental flap, and how to produce this sound. It is a phoneme in several African languages, among which Mono.

The latest beta versions of the Doulos SIL and Charis SIL fonts include the right hook v in their “private use area” (code U+F25F). If you have one of them installed, you might see it here: . (Otherwise, you’ll see some nonsense or nothing at all.)


Eric Bakovic, one of the linguists who make Language Log the great, inspiring place it is, has started his own linguistics blog, phonoloblog | all things phonology. The contributors are, again, linguists and are going to address phonology in particular.

This promises to be a very interesting addition to the linguistic segment of the blogospere. Plus, it’s a very pleasant-looking WordPress install.