Difference between a brogue and a burr?

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Difference between a brogue and a burr?

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Jan 20, 2008, 3:26 pm

Don't know if I'm posting this question in the right group but I figure that if anyone would know the answers it's the linguists' group :)

Can anyone tell me what the difference is between a "brogue" and "burr"? And why are there two different pronunciations for "celtic"--ie like "keltic" and then as a soft "c"?


Jan 21, 2008, 1:19 pm

A brogue is a reference to an Irish (occasionally Scottish) dialect of English, with a number of sounds changed that make it distinctive. A burr refers more to the trilling of the r (sometimes in the back of the mouth) that seems to be mostly a Scottish characteristic.

Celtic is from French, from Latin, from Greek. In Greek, and originally in Latin, the c (and in Greek spelled with a kappa) was pronounced as a hard c. "Celt" is not a workd as far as I know derived from a Celtic language word, so the soft c is based on the English preference to pronounce it softly. This is from the Romance language development of chaging the sound of c before e or i into an s sound (French or Spanish) or ch (Italian) something else. English respects the Italian in the word concerto, where the the Italian pronunication of the 2nd c (ch sound) is the normal one. But note the pronunication of the word, concert. For concerto, my mother always pronounced the 2nd c in concerto with an sh sound -- I don't think she's the only one, but it is not a dictionary pronunciation.

Jan 21, 2008, 4:25 pm

Hi vpfluke

Thank you for the explanation. So would someone say "his brogue is thick" or "his burr is thick"--as in difficult to understand like a heavy accent?

Celtic then can be pronounced with both the soft "c" and the "k" sound right?

Jan 21, 2008, 5:34 pm

Brogues can be thick. I don't remember the last time I heard a burr as being thick. Maybe people just say, "he has a burr". I'll have to check this out.

The hard or soft C in Celtic is sometmes contextual. The Boston baskletball team is always pronounced with a soft C. When Linguists say "Celtic languages" they always use the hard C. Pehaps the hard C is more academic.

Jan 21, 2008, 5:46 pm

I googled "thick brogue" and "thick burr". Thick brogue came up 789 times. Thick burr came up 380 times but over half the times it was in reference to non-language use (wood, plaster, or metal burrs), so I estimate that thick burr is used only about 1/5 as much as brogue. The word brogue seems to refer to the whole accent, whereas the burr is for the r sound. But it is so distinctive, that people hear 'Scottish' without hearing another sound.

The poet Robert Burns wrote in 'dialect' and to read it outloud you do have to use a burr.

Jan 21, 2008, 6:00 pm

As far as I can work out, Celtic is pronounced with a soft C ("seltic") if it's a sports team name; otherwise it's a hard C ("keltic"). There may be exceptions, but I haven't come across them yet...

Jan 22, 2008, 10:56 am

That's particularly true of sports teams from Boston, especially if they're basketball teams.

Jan 22, 2008, 7:34 pm

Football (=soccer) teams from Glasgow have the same tendency.

Editado: Jan 22, 2008, 8:55 pm

Really? But then, as you pointed out, Brooklyn isn't where you'd expect "football" fans to be wild about soccer ;)

Jan 23, 2008, 5:42 pm

Thanks again vpfluke for the remaining brogue/burr details :)

Jan 24, 2008, 1:27 am

VPFLUKE: Does it mean the same thing to say a Scottish brogue and a Scottish accent? Is brogue just a bit more technical but essentially means the same thing?

Jan 24, 2008, 5:00 pm

The burr in the word "brogue" helps to identify the Scottish accent.

Fev 4, 2008, 9:35 am

A brogue is a shoe. A burr is a little spiny seed that catches in your socks.

Set 22, 2008, 8:19 pm

Sandburrs in a child's socks can provoke bloodcurling screams, causing a mother to come running, fearing the worst. Dramatic child 8-)

Maio 5, 2016, 5:14 pm

Does "brogue" only refer to Irish and Scottish accents? I have not heard of anyone using another accent to apply (eg. my oh my he has a thick Korean brogue). As a follow up, does anyone know where the word comes from?

Maio 5, 2016, 5:40 pm

According to Wikipedia it only applies to Irish and less commonly Scottish and English west country dialects. It also suggests that the origin is unclear but it may refer to a type of shoe traditionally worn by the Irish.

Maio 6, 2016, 6:24 am

>15 JFlay3: - I think you could also refer to a Welsh brogue, but to my mind, it is mainly associated with Irish accents. I'm not sure about the West Country - "Cornish brogue" doesn't sound like a term I've ever heard used.

Jan 3, 2017, 3:55 am

'Brog' is the Irish word for shoe though it's come to mean a certain sort of shoe elsewhere. 'Celtic' is pronounced with a hard 'c' here by everyone--nothing academic about it.

And this hasn't arisen but please please please 'Gaelic' refers to the Scottish form of the language that in its form here is called 'Irish'. On the net I've seen Americans insist that the Irish speak Gaelic & no number of corrections from Irish people, who were required to take *Irish* in school, would convince them otherwise.

Jan 3, 2017, 12:57 pm

My late husband the ArchDruid (long story) used to say, "The Selts play roundball, the Kelts are in Ireland."

Many years ago I had a book that said the proper pronunciation of "Cerridwen" was "Serridwen." Before I gave the book away, I put a sticky note on that page saying, "No it isn't!"