History of International Relations Textbook

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How to pronounce “yogurt”

In English there is considerable confusion regarding the proper pronunciation of the word “yogurt.” Basically, “yog-urt” is the UK pronunciation whereas Americans say “yo-gurt.”

US pronounciation

There are also alternative spellings: yoghurt or yorhourt, and the Canadians write yogourt.

Meanwhile, the French say “yaourt” and this is also how they spell it. That is, the French don’t pronounce the “g.” Weird, right?

Well, as it turns out, the French pronunciation is the most accurate. The word is originally Turkish, yoğurt, from yoğurmak, meaning “to kneed,” “to become curdled or coagulated.” As a people of the Central Asian steppes, the Turks ate a lot of milk products and they do so to this day. In fact, their yoğurt is phenomenally delicious and it contains none of the weird emulsifiers and sickening sweeteners that one finds elsewhere.

So why do the French swallow the “g”? Well, because the Turks do. The letter “ğ” — yumuşak ge, a “g” with a squiggle — is not pronounced in Turkish but it only extends the length of the previous vowel. The French must have met actual Turkish people and learned the pronunciation from them. English, Americans and Swedes must only have seen it written and they consequently mispronounce the word to this day.

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Ian Harrison
Ian Harrison
3 years ago

You are missing the fact that that in British English it is spelled withan “H” in the middle. This makes the ‘g’ hard. So Yog – ert is correct. (Yoghurt).

2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Harrison

You mean, like in light, right, delight, weigh, taught, aught and sprightly?

D b
D b
1 year ago
Reply to  John

yes, none of those words contain ‘gh’ in the middle of the word.
Those ‘gh’s you mention are gaelic throw backs(‘ch’ in ‘loch’, ‘gh’ in ‘cough’ or ‘borough’).
Since ‘yoghurt’ is not a Brythonic or gaelic word it is imported from the normans – which makes sense because French words sometimes get hard anglicised in English.
If you’re trying to find a ubiquitous spelling pronunciation rule in English, you will fail, why? English is made of 5+ languages, and in those the neutral vowel(schwa) takes precedence over written vowel sounds(eg; ‘medal’ is not pronounced ‘med-Ahl’ it is ‘med-uhl’ – or Durham is pronounced ‘duh’rhum’ not ‘durr-ham’.
The ‘gh’ sound is from middle English( ȝ yogh),
you will also find that ‘gh’ at the beginning of words does not follow the same rule as ‘gh’ on the last part of a word(‘gh’ in ‘ghost’, ‘ghastly’, etc is hard whereas in ‘light’ it is NOW silent, but it wasn’t centuries ago)

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