Pronunciation of Celtic
Over the years, the word Celtic had undergone several interpretations and has been pronounced differently. There is a big debate whether the initial C sound of the word Celtic is either pronounced as /s/ or /k/. The word Celtic is presumed to have been from the Greeks where 'Celtic' is written with a Kappa. A kappa is the 10th Greek letter and stands for the voiceless velar stop or the sound of /k/.
The pronunciation of Celtic was also influenced with Medieval Latin where the original sound of C /k/, was changes to sound of /s/. This transformation of consonant sound is also referred to as palatalization as in the word 'centre'. This sound shift is an inherent characteristic of the English language as it is used today.
The English pronunciation of the word Celtic has gaining popularity as English has become the Universal Language. Only the scholastic people know and use the word Celtic with the /k/ sound. The philologists in both academic and non-academic connotations also popularly use this pronunciation.
The word Celt may have been incorporated into the English language from the Latin word 'celticus' or the French word 'celtique' which also have a Latin origin. The Latin words from which they derived are believed to be originally from Greek. The /k/ sound is both characteristic of the Greek and Latin language. On the other hand, French read it with a /s/. The word Celtic is globally pronounced with the /s/ sound except in Scotland where it is always pronounced with a /k/. In recent editions, the Oxford Dictionary recognized the /k/ sound in the word Celtic.
It is important to note that the Celtic Language does not reveal either influences on the American-British or the Scottish-Irish distinction in terms of pronunciation. The pronunciations as they are used in these languages are merely their own independent characteristics.
A lot of sports teams also incorporated the word Celtic in their names as in the Boston Celtic and the Celtic Football Club. Because they are proper names, they employed the sound of /s/ in the word Celtic.
As to which pronunciation is ultimately correct, it is no longer an issue. Try to observe to the people around you and listen to how they use the word. What is popularly used is usually deemed as the 'correct' pronunciation of the word.
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 22/01/2007