Pronunciation of /sans/

Mitchell Au's picture

There are a lot of sans-serif fonts out there, many of which put "Sans" in the typeface name such as Calluna Sans, Deja Vu Sans, Gill Sans, Scala Sans, etc. Being a Canadian, sometimes I'm torn between saying /sænz/ in English or /sɑ̃/ in French. Which one???

Joshua Langman's picture

I go with [sænz] in an English context, or, if I'm feeling particularly elegant, [sɑnz]. Of course, the French pronunciation is arguably more correct, as it is a French word. However, it's been accepted into English with an English pronunciation in other contexts as well.

Josh

dan_reynolds's picture

Is it a French word? Usage of "sans" in English goes back to Shakespeare, at least.

oldnick's picture

Is it a French word? Usage of "sans" in English goes back to Shakespeare, at least.

The language in which Shakespeare wrote owes a great deal to the influence of Norman French on Old English. And, the OED says the preferred pronunciation of insouciance, a pure borrow from French, is the Anglicized pronunciation, so go figger...

Michel Boyer's picture

The OED has an entry for "sans" where "sans pareil", "sans cérémonie" etc are mentioned, but there is a separate entry for sanserif, where there is no reference to French. Since I see "Calluna sans" as an abbreviation for "Calluna sanserif", I see no reason to make it sound French.

maxgraphic's picture

I'm sure it varies by region, but here on the US West coast saying "saw sayreef" would brand you as eccentric or pretentious, unless you were trying to get a laugh. I can only recall one person, a client, trying it and it became a joke around the office.

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