Kelt and Keltic, or Selt and Seltic?

I find myself, before a Scottish audience, in a position of phonetic ambiguity. Do I say Kelt and Keltic, or Selt and Seltic? As an Englishman, I use the former pronounciation from habit, though aware that Scottish usage favours the soft ‘c’, as does the O.E.D., giving ‘Keltic’ only as a secondary alternative.

from Stuart Piggot, Celts, Saxons and the Early Antiquarians, The O’Donnell Lecture 1966, Edinburgh University Press, 1967, p.4

3 thoughts on “Kelt and Keltic, or Selt and Seltic?”

  1. Say “kelt”. I like to call the soft “C” pronunciation for words like Celt and Caesar “sissy” Latin.
    And why use it at all? You’re used to re-educating people so why not use Gaelic words instead?

  2. Yes, well I always say ‘k’, but I thought it interesting that just 50 years ago, Scottish usage was noticably different.

  3. You can probably blame TV for that. If enough football fans hear Celtic pronounce seltic, then it will become entrenched.
    A coupled of years ago I noticed that people in northern Argentina were using the porteno pronunciation “sh” for ll instead of “y” (ex. in BsAs “calle” is pronounced “KA shay”, not Kai yay). I think that’s because of TV.
    I usually let things slide but will draw the line at some words like Celtic. The use of the word “impact” drives me crazy and when I’m in a bad mood I’ll correct people. I’ve given up on patina, when did it turn into “puh TEE nuh”?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.