-ogic, -ogue, -ogy: more information

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This page follows on from, and adds to, the page on -ogic, -ogue, -ogy. What that says about pedagogy etc, mutatis mutandis, is true of the words demagogue, demagogic and demagogy - the first has two hard '-g-'s, and the second two may be said either with two hard '-g-'s or with the first hard, the second soft; the writer of this article pronounces all of them with hard '-g-'.

There is an interesting case in the family of words beginning with anal- . Analogy (soft '-g-') is a term of long standing, meaning roughly 'comparison'. The adjective is - and has for long been - analogous, where the '-g-' should, in AWE's view, be hard, although we hear the softer version more and more. With the development of the computer, particularly in its early stages, there was a need to distinguish between the machines that worked basically by pulses of 'on' and 'off' - what we now call a digital computer - and the machines that operated "with numbers represented by some physically measurable quantity, such as weight, length, voltage, etc." (OED) This sense was first recorded in 1946. It has since developed as a name for many devices which work in similar ways, e.g. for time-keeping: an analogue watch has hands moving round a circle, a digital watch displays numbers. The pronunciation of analogue is reflected in its American spelling, analog: it is hard (IPA: /ˈæn ə lɒg/). The different meanings (analogue and analogy, IPA: /æ (or ə)n ˈæ lədʒ ɪ/) have different pronunciations.

A word sometimes used as a reverse of analogue is homologue. It, and its adjective homologous, are only recorded with hard '-g-'.

Fowler (1926) says, s.v. 'GREEK G' (AWE has rephrased Fowler's phonetics with IPA): "There is something to be said for retaining the hard sound of g even before e, i, & y, in such Greek-derived words as are not in popular but only in learned, technical or literary use. To those who know some Greek the sound of IPA: /pɛd ə ˈgɒdʒ ɪ/ (pedagogy with the sound of '-j-' for the second '-g-') or IPA: /dʒɛr ɒnt ˈɒkr əs ɪ/ (gerontocracy with initial '-j-') or IPA: /feɪdʒ ɪ ˈdiː nə/ (phagedaena [an archaic word for 'ulcer'] with '-j-' rather than a hard '-g-') or IPA: /ˈsɪ sɪ dʒɪ/ (syzygy with '-j-') or IPA: /dʒaɪ naɪ ˈkɒ lɒ dʒɪ/ (gynaecology with initial '-j-') either obscures the meaning, which they would catch with the aid of the hard g, or, if they happen to be prepared for it & so do not miss the meaning, is still repulsive. To those who do not know Greek, the sound of the words is indifferent, & they might allow the other party the indulgence of a harmless pedantry that affects after all but a few words." (see Greek G.)

To this, Gowers in the 2nd edition added: "It should now be added that this advice was given in the nineteen-twenties. Since then the words ending -gitis have firmly adopted the pronunciation deprecated; for most of the others the issue remains in the balance, with a general tendency towards the soft g." Burchfield in the third gives a list of changing pronunciations of the 'Greek g', which is reproduced at Burchfield's Greek g.

It pleases AWE's sense of the pedantic to remain with Fowler's original advice. The pleasure comes partly from the awareness that it is old-fashioned, and partly from knowing some Greek.