Burchfield's Greek g
This is the article in The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, ed. R.W. Burchfield, OUP 1996 - in effect, the third edition of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H.W.Fowler. Burchfield's article on Greek g replaces Fowler's original remarks (they can be seen in the fourth paragraph of AWE's article '-ogic, -ogue, -ogy - more information') which were published in 1926 for an audience with considerably more knowledge of Greek than Burchfield's, and what, to our taste, is remarkably old-fashioned standards of pronunciation.
Burchfield says: "Words containing g derived from Greek gamma are of three kinds:
1 The small class in which g is silent in English (gnome [- ']aphorism['], gnomic, gnomon (on sundial), gnosis, gnostic, diaphragm. paradigm, phlegm).
2 A larger class (before a consonant or the vowels a, o) in which it is always 'hard', i.e. /g/ (glaucoma, Greek, galaxy, demagogue, gonorrhea).
3 A large class of words in which the g happens to fall before e, i, or y. The Eng;ish natural tendency to pronounce g 'soft', i.e. as /dʒ/, in such cases has been partially prevented by standard speakers who are familiar with the derivation of the words in question. In the following list the dominant current pronunciation is given when possible.
|anthropophagi||/g/ or /dʒ/|
|gerontology||initial /g/, final /dʒ/|
|gynaecology||initial /g/, final /dʒ/|
|hegemony||/g/ or /dʒ/|
|isagogic||first g hard, second g /dʒ/|
|pedagogical||/-ˈgɒdʒ-/ or /-ˈgɒg-/|
|pedagogy||/-ˈgɒdʒ-/ or /-ˈgɒg-/|