Pronounciation of "Gill Sans"?

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?

eliason's picture

You are.

RadioB's picture

You, don't correct him/her though. muhahaha

riccard0's picture

According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Gill): /ˈɡɪl/

PublishingMojo's picture

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 popular drinking song.
But Eric Gill's name is pronounced with a hard G.

hrant's picture

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

timd's picture

Yes, but how do you pronounce sans?

Tim

LadyJemima's picture

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. ;)

johndberry's picture

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.

joeclark's picture

Fill pans with water; Gill Sans with Perpetua. The words rhyme.

hrant's picture

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

oldnick's picture

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…

jcrippen's picture

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's picture

Oh, sorry.
The French still sounds nicer. :-)

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

hhp

riccard0's picture

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

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.

timd's picture

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

joeclark's picture

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

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

Sans as in "pans" sounds too New Jersey.

hrant's picture

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

Hrant, should I understand you rhyme Gill sans with renaissance?

hrant's picture

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

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

sawnnz

hrant's picture

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

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

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

Joshua Langman's picture

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's picture

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

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.

timd's picture

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

joeclark's picture

No, you have to pronounce all four letters.
[gɪɫˈsænz]

hrant's picture

Fascism sucks.

hhp

eatingcrayons's picture

This reminds me of the GIF vs JIF argument - http://www.olsenhome.com/gif/

riccard0's picture

This reminds me of the GIF vs JIF argument

Me too. The infamous Jraphic Interchange Format ;-)

SebastianK's picture

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?

joeclark's picture

“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.)

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