Why is "arch" pronounced like "arch(curvature)" in archbishop but like "ark(big ship)" in archangel? I've found out the the "arch" part of archbishop, archrival, archtraitor, archpriest, archdiocese, archduke, archfiend, archlute, archconservative, archconfraternity is pronounced as "arch(curvature)" but like "ark(big ship)" in archangel, archimage. It seems that in all of the words above the part "arch" has the same origin but what makes them pronounced differently?
Oct 31, 2018 7:51 AM
Answers · 3
Perhaps because they're followed by a vowel? That seems to be the obvious difference between the first set of words and the two exceptions that you've given.
October 31, 2018
I've never heard anyone use "archconfraternity." So, you probably do not have to remember that one. It could be the vowel. It could be words that stopped off in French or Italian before coming to English rather than coming directly from Latin to English? As you've undoubtedly noticed, English spelling and pronunciation has a lot rules and a lot of exceptions. Even native English speakers make mistakes when they come across an unfamiliar word and try to figure out what it sounds like based on how it is written.
October 31, 2018
I don't know for sure. I think Su.Ki's answer is right because the "arch" in these words could be a contraction from the Greek "arche / archi", to avoid two vowel sounds together. Other examples with a /k/ sound that I can think of are WHOLE words that come direct from archipelago, archetype, architrave. However, in words like "arch(-)fiend", arch(-)enemy, the prefix "arch" has been added on to the front of an existing word. The hyphen that you sometimes see in some of these words indicates this.
October 31, 2018
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