A Conversation for 'Wlonk' - the Word
Mike Van Horn Started conversation Jun 1, 2009
For clues to pronunciation of "wl", perhaps look at English word origins. E.g., German, where 'w' is pronounced 'v.' Water, Wasser, "vasser." Wood, Wald, "vald." So perhaps wlonk is "vlonk" or even "flonk."
I can't think of any German word for "fair" that sounds like "flonk."
Icy North Posted Jun 1, 2009
Hi Mike, and welcome to h2g2
Yes, the Germanic pronunciation is a possibility (although I'm no expert). I suppose the question is: how did the Germans pronounce it at the time?
Another possibility may be u-lonk, as w is double-u after all. Does that make sense?
Maybe a Mediaeval linguist will spot this and help us out.
Mike Van Horn Posted Jun 1, 2009
Yes, how can one ever know how an ancient sound was pronounced. Unless there's some sort of verbal "rosetta stone." For example, writings from monks who spoke Latin saying, "Wlonk sounds like our word "****." And we probably have a better idea how medieval Latin was pronounced.
Perhaps wl was one of the double consonant sounds like wr, wh, kn, which have been simplified in recent pronunciation. But what's strange is that none of the wl words mentioned seem to have modern equivalents.
It looks like Polish to me. I say this on absolutely no evidence.
Icy North Posted Jun 1, 2009
'wlak' (lukewarm) perhaps indicates that the w was silent, maybe? Similarly, 'wlat' (also 'wlath') presumably became loathe, and 'wlisp' (lisp) has also dropped the 'w'. So, is wlonk pronounced 'lonk'?
But then you get 'wlappe' (to wrap) which muddies that theory. In this case, we would pronounce wlonk as 'ronk'.
Mike Van Horn Posted Jun 2, 2009
We distinguish clearly between r and l sounds. But not so all languages. Listen to a Japanese speaker confuse the two sounds. Also in Japanese, h is often pronounced as f, so that "hoop" becomes "foop." And Chinese speakers, Cantonese I think, can mix the sounds of n and l in a way I cannot possibly duplicate. My point, consonants are not constant. They vary among languages and they shift within languages.
I suspect that wl is a single consonant sound that has shifted to r or l or f or h sound.
notkristina Posted Jun 2, 2009
I like "honk." I choose "honk." But that's based on style alone. For realisticness, I think "lonk" sounds good.
We're voting now, right?
Icy North Posted Jun 3, 2009
Mike Van Horn Posted Jun 5, 2009
I just saw elsewhere on the sprawling BBC website, the product page, a miniature Tardis from Dr. Who. Why don't we go in together and buy one, travel back to the heyday of Middle English, and wander around till we hear someone say "wlonk!" Then there will be no question.
Hope we can get back.
Icy North Posted Jun 5, 2009
I think you're off in the realms of fantasy, there
I saw a fascinating BBC4 documentary last night about the poem Gawain and the Green Knight. The poet Simon Armitage took us on a journey through the locations and told the story. He didn't mention 'wlonk', particularly, but gave a good insight into the language of the poem - chosen for its alliteration as much as its precise meaning. Apparently many of the words are still used in English dialect today, and, analysing this, they've traced the anonymous author to a region of Staffordshire.
Anyway, if anyone's interested it's available on iPlayer for a few more days, and repeated next Monday: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kvbny
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