Pronounciation of "Gill Sans"?

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Alissa's picture
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Pronounciation of "Gill Sans"?
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I've always said "gill" as in "gill of a fish." However, a fellow student always pronounces it like the girls name "Jill". Which is correct?

Craig Eliason's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2004 - 1:44pm
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You are.

bobby b's picture
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Joined: 17 Sep 2010 - 10:44am
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You, don't correct him/her though. muhahaha

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Gill): /ˈɡɪl/

Nick Shinn's picture
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Victor Curran's picture
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Is your classmate from the UK? The word gill (pronounced jill) is an archaic unit of liquid measure, equivalent to a quarter-pint. The term is still heard sometimes in pubs in Ireland and the UK, and in this http://popular drinking song.
But Eric Gill's name is pronounced with a hard G.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Is your classmate French, or Québécois?

an archaic unit of liquid measure, equivalent to a quarter-pint.

I guess British binge drinking is what made that obsolete.

hhp

Tim Daly's picture
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Joined: 11 Sep 2003 - 9:04am
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Yes, but how do you pronounce sans?

Tim

Alissa's picture
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Joined: 1 Mar 2011 - 6:14pm
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Interestingly enough, he is from the Netherlands, and I wondered if his pronunciation might have been due to that. Glad I'm saying it correctly!

Tim, you're just opening a can of worms with that one, LOL. ;)

John D. Berry's picture
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Joined: 3 Feb 2005 - 9:25pm
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Hard-G, like the breathing apparatus of a fish; and Anglicized "sanz." (I'm perfectly capable of pronouncing "sans" in French, but in English it rhymes with "fans.")

But I've learned something today: I had no idea that the unit of measurement was pronounced with a soft G. I've only seen it in print, never heard it used in, er, real life.

Joe Clark's picture
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Joined: 6 May 2005 - 1:23pm
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Fill pans with water; Gill Sans with Perpetua. The words rhyme.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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But "sans" is not a loan word from French; it is French. To me awareness of the authentic pronunciation requires an effort to match it; even if one doesn't get it right, it's the intent that counts.

hhp

Nick Curtis's picture
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an archaic unit of liquid measure, equivalent to a quarter-pint.

I guess British binge drinking is what made that obsolete.

The last time I was in London, they served hard liquor by the gill or half-gill, which made a shot a little stiffer than most you would get in an American bar.

Which is no real surprise: American merchants have been semantically short-changing their customers since before the republic began. “A pint’s a pound the world around”; in Britain, a pound used to be twenty shillings, and so a pint was twenty ounces; in America, a pound is sixteen ounces, so a pint is sixteen ounces. And so it goes with a great many things…

James A. Crippen's picture
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 - 7:24pm
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How is sans not a loanword? The OED seems to think it is:

sans, n. /sænz/. Typogr. Also Sans (esp. as the proper name of particular type-faces). A shortened form of SANSSERIF n.

  • 1927 A. J. WATKINS Advert. Lay-out & Copy-writing 116/2 Serifs,‥not present on block letters or sans type.
  • 1932 H. A. MADDOX Printing (ed. 2) iii. 40 (caption) Sans-serif (Gill Sans in light, medium, and bold).

...

I included the second quotation because of the original topic.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Oh, sorry.
The French still sounds nicer. :-)

Speaking of which, how many people prefer "demi" to "semi"?

hhp

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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A shortened form of SANSSERIF

Really, no space, no hyphen?

how many people prefer "demi" to "semi"?

Only if it’s demi-gras or, even better, demi-audacieux! ;-)
If I remember correctly, some typefaces used “demi” for weight and “semi” for widths (as in “demi-bold semi-condensed”).

Michel Boyer's picture
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Joined: 2 Jun 2007 - 1:01pm
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Here is a grab of that "sansserif" entry from the OED:

Now let's look at that first word, "sans". According to the Wiktionary sans comes from Middle English and was borrowed from Old French. By the way, the word sauce also comes from Old French and so does village. I fail to see why any of those words should be given a modern French pronunciation.

Tim Daly's picture
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Fill pans from a ewer;
Gill Sans with Perpetua.
The words rhyme.

Joanna does not rhyme with piano (unless you were born within the sound of Bow Bells).

Tim

Joe Clark's picture
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Joined: 6 May 2005 - 1:23pm
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Yes, and let’s pronounce “Paris” and “restaurant” à la française while we’re at it. It’s sans as in pans.

Richard Fink's picture
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I've always said "sahnz" for "sans". As rhymes with "The Fonz" from Happy Days.

Sans as in "pans" sounds too New Jersey.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Joe, I can accept that - I just can't get myself to do it. Maybe it's because I learned French before English.

hhp

Michel Boyer's picture
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Joined: 2 Jun 2007 - 1:01pm
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Hrant, should I understand you rhyme Gill sans with renaissance?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Without the "s" sound at the end, yes.

BTW as a rule I avoid rhyming as much as possible; it's the display typography of language.

hhp

Michel Boyer's picture
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Joined: 2 Jun 2007 - 1:01pm
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It is true that the French word sans is pronounced /sɑ̃/ (no sound "s" in the end) except when there is a "liaison" with a following vowel and then the final "s" is voiced, it is pronounced "z" as in sans appel /sɑ̃.z‿a.pɛl/ . However, when speaking of Gill sans, it is my feeling that a French speaker will normally pronounce /ɡilsɑ̃s/.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture
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sawnnz

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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So Michel, you francophones no longer have a penchant (sorry :-) for simply renaming people and places to make them easier for you to pronounce? Marc Aurèle, eh? :-)

hhp

Michel Boyer's picture
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Why do you say so? /ɡilsɑ̃s/ is quite far from /ɡɪlsænz/ (or /ɡɪlsanz/); I don't see what renaming process could apply.

Joshua Langman's picture
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So, timd, it's Perpetúa, and not, as I would say, Perpétua (same stresses as "perpetual")?

Joshua Langman's picture
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Joined: 14 Nov 2010 - 12:22am
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Hey, maybe I'll set up a little online survey of how people pronounce typeface names? Any suggestions? Univers and Poliphilus come to mind.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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I thought you meant that a French speaker would pronounce "Gill Sans" with an "s" sound at the end in deference to its English provenance, which caused me to jokingly contrast that against the cavalier French practice of "repurposing" the spelling of foreign names.

hhp

Michel Boyer's picture
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in deference to its English provenance

?
I don't know what rules apply in general, and what rule applies here but in "Gill sans" the word "sans" cannot be a preposition, it is not in a conjunctive locution and I don't see how it can be considered to be used adverbially. So, what is it to be French? If it is short for "sans-serif" then the sound "s" might be justified, but I am claiming nothing.

Riccardo Sartori's picture
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Tim Daly's picture
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Joshua, I would pronounce it the first way with the stress on the ending.

But it is a case of communication, many of the typesetters I have worked with have not known (or needed to know) who designed the typefaces they work with or their provenance, so “correct” pronunciation is often ignored in favour of comprehension.

So, being British, Univers is overwhelmingly Universe (I draw the line at Helvetica Newey though).

You could blame this on the stereotypical British method of speaking to foreigners – speak English slowly and loudly.

Tim

Joe Clark's picture
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Joined: 6 May 2005 - 1:23pm
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No, you have to pronounce all four letters.
[gɪɫˈsænz]

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Fascism sucks.

hhp

Guy Trowbridge's picture
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This reminds me of the GIF vs JIF argument - http://www.olsenhome.com/gif/

Riccardo Sartori's picture
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This reminds me of the GIF vs JIF argument

Me too. The infamous Jraphic Interchange Format ;-)

Sebastian Kosch's picture
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So, Perpetua rhymes with ewer? Is it Perpe-tchéwa or Perpe-tóo-a?

How it's supposed to rhyme with "water" is beyond me. Joe, can you clarify?

Joe Clark's picture
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“Perpetua” is pronounced like “perpetual” except there is no final L and the last vowel is [a] or [ʌ]. How you pronounce the er and tu portions varies by dialect. (Mine is rhotic and I say perPETCHyua, which, yes, I could write out in IPA if you wished.)