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  • To be or not to be? That is the kestion. "Kestion"? I thought it was supposed to be "question".

  • Hi. James, from EngVid. This is a lesson on pronunciation. I have many students, especially

  • blame them because they see the QU and they think it's a K sound because in other parts

  • of the world, QU is a K sound. But at the beginning of the word, it's different. Now,

  • today I'm going to help you with learning how to pronounce it, but I'm going to tell

  • you why. So you're going to get some history. And this is why I give history, to make it

  • memorable. Because once you understand something and you can remember it, you can use it. Cool?

  • Let's go to the board.

  • So Mr. E was saying, "Is it a 'kestion' or a 'question'? I have a 'kwa' sound." Okay?

  • Or why does the Q sound like "kwa"? Why do we have the "kwa"? Right? "Queen", "quake",

  • "quail", all "kwa", obviously. Right? Well, English today is not a phonetic language.

  • It's not. All you have to ask yourself -- do you live on a farm, or do you go to the pharmacist,

  • and spell it, and you'll go, "That's kind of crazy." And it is.

  • There are two main reasons for this. And I'm going to give you a little bit of English

  • history. So let's go to the book of English. Many pages. All blank. Okay. So history, because

  • I want to give you a little bit of history. Now, English is actually made up of four language

  • groups. Basically, the first group of English, which is -- and the reason why I'm looking

  • here is because I actually have the percentages. Okay? The first group of English were really

  • German. It was a Germanic language, hence "Anglo-Saxon". Okay? And that accounts for

  • about 30 percent of our language. Do you know that? Sorry, 26 percent of the language is

  • actually German because the first people were German speaking. Now, there was a time called

  • the Dark Ages when knowledge was lost, and people, you know, they didn't communicate

  • because Rome had fallen. Remember, Rome was Latin. That's another part of our language.

  • And it was kept by the religious people. Right? They had all the knowledge, and they would

  • spread it. When you went to school, they would teach people. So Latin became the technical

  • language and the scientific language, all language of ideas. All the? And the German

  • was the language spoken by the common people. Well, a kind of German. It was different from

  • the German that we speak or German spoken today.

  • Now, Greek is because, you know -- Greek and Latin languages, they were, actually, kind

  • of close. From way back, there was a time where there was an exchange. So we have a

  • little bit of Greek. Okay? In fact, that is where our alphabet comes from. A, B, C, as

  • easy as alpha, beta, kappa, delta, epsilon. A, B, C, D, E. There you go. Greek influence

  • on our alphabet. I'm giving you all of this for a reason that you'll understand that why

  • certain sounds which seem crazy make sense. And it's going to be the Latin and Greek connection.

  • The final part is -- we have the French come in. So why am I telling you this? I told you

  • there were two reasons. No. 1, if you have four languages coming together, you can't

  • have rules -- like, hard rules -- because the languages have different rules. Okay?

  • Second of all, it's going to explain to you why this weird sound comes up in the first

  • place. Part of, you know, the Greek and the Latin rules together, they created this Q

  • sound in our language. The second main reason English isn't phonetic -- simple. It was until

  • people wrote it down. What? When we say a language is phonetic, we say, basically, what's

  • written, how you write it is how you say. Well, before, English was what we call codified.

  • When people used to spell things like "cow", they would spell it like this, "kow", and

  • it was okay because only Johnny in Johnny's town wrote it this way. But unfortunately,

  • people moved to different places, and they went, "what about like this? This is a cow."

  • And guys like Webster and Oxford, they decided to make what we say "codify" the language

  • and said, "Okay this is the official spelling of these words." So a lot of sounds that we

  • used to make got taken out of the language, a lot of spellings. So a lot of the ones that

  • would be more phonetic were taken out for ones that people said, "We all agree that

  • these are the words." Hence why English isn't always phonetic. Because when you borrow from

  • Greek, German, and Latin -- in those languages it would have been phonetic. But when you

  • put it in our language, you're like, "This is strange." Cool?

  • Quick recap. The two reasons our language isn't phonetic. One, it's made up of four

  • languages, and all the rules don't come together. And because English spread across the world,

  • different places had different ways of saying it, some phonetic, some not phonetic. But

  • when they made English into one language and said, "This is the official language", they

  • got rid of some of the phonetic spellings, so we have this kind of funny language, which

  • is like a pizza. It's got everything on it, but it all comes from different places. Cool?

  • All right.

  • We've talked about that. Now, we have got to talk about the Q itself. All right? We're

  • done the history. Time to do the lesson.

  • Well, I give you the percentages. You know, like German was 26 percent. Greek, actually,

  • it's funny; even though it's old, it's still, like, 13 percent. Crazy. And then, there's

  • Latin, like 26 percent, and blah, blah, blah. Let's go to -- because I told you about the

  • connection between the Greek and the Latin. Let's go to the board and take a look at that.

  • The Q in English is a digraph. Digraph. "Di" means "twice" or "two" in English. "Graph"

  • -- you know, you think of a graph that you put numbers on showing a change, right? It's

  • not quite the same. In this case, graph means a symbol representing a sound. And the QU

  • represents a sound. That sound is "kwa". And I know you're going, "Well, why 'kwa'?" If

  • you go back to the history -- I told you how there was Greek, and then the Latin people

  • came, and blah, blah, blah. Well, the Latin people took the Greek "kappa", right? There's

  • alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, and kappa. They took the kappa, the kappa sound, from

  • the Greek, the Greek alphabet. And they were using it. But what they found was there were

  • a lot of cases where the kappa was followed by a vowel. QU, or "kwa", was used to represent

  • there's a vowel coming behind it and you must round your mouth. "Kwa." Look at my mouth.

  • "Kwa." That is why they put the QU together, to tell you this is a "kwa" coming. So C then

  • became C, which became just K, a K sound, which is a harder sound. But they kept this,

  • this Q, to let us know that these words have this funny sound, the "kwa".

  • So look. It lets the speaker know to round your lips, round them, to make the next vowel

  • sound. And you hear in English all the time, a rounded vowel sound -- and you're probably

  • wondering what the hell they mean. They mean this. Make it round. Make your mouth round.

  • Cool. Right?

  • And that's why 90 percent of the time, when you hear "kwa" or Q, it's always "kwa". "Queen",

  • "quality", "queer", "query", "quail", "quake", right? "Quagmire." Don't ask. Okay? But there

  • are exceptions, and some of the exceptions, when I explain them to you, you'll go, "Well

  • that just makes sense." Right?

  • No. 1, in England, they like to cue. They will line up for hours in a cue. The word

  • "cue" means to get in a line because you're going to proceed somewhere else. This could

  • be for vehicles, "cars cued up", or for people. "Cue up to go to the doctor's office." You

  • line up because you're going to move forward. Right? So in England, they talk about the

  • "cue".

  • Remember I talked about the French origin? The French were there. I think I forgot. When

  • the French came into England -- actually, the Normans came into England. After a while,

  • they took over, and they put a French king on the English throne. So they put a French

  • man and said, "you are now the king of England." And he started to add all sorts of French

  • words to the language. One of the things the English picked up was the word "queue". "Queue"

  • means "tail". I don't know if you can see my tail. I've got a tail. I'm not human. Okay.

  • Well, the tail is what follows behind. I know. You're smart. You're already going, "A 'queue'

  • is a line. One person after the other. It follows behind." Precisely. So the English

  • took that "queue", the French "queue" and made it "cue" for "line", follow behind. You

  • like that? So you notice this word is a Q, not a kwa", because it's French in origin.

  • What about -- oh, God. Modern 20th century people are so, you know, environmentally with

  • it and health conscious, man, that they like quinoa. It's not "quanoua" or -- I can't even

  • say it with a "kwa", okay. It's called "quinoa". This is because it's from a Spanish-speaking

  • country. What? Well, Spanish is a Latin based language. Told you, Son. The history was necessary.

  • And it comes from Bolivia. So we get quinoa from Bolivia, which is a Spanish-speaking

  • country, which is Latin-based. The history makes sense.

  • And finally, here's my favorite one. In a place called "Toronto", which is in Canada,

  • they have a very famous area called "Queen's Quay". Every Canadian is now going, "What

  • the heck is he talking about?" They don't, because they call it "Queen's 'Key'". It's

  • old English, which is more Germanic-based. The "quay" sound is a K sound, not a "kwa"

  • sound. Otherwise, it would be "kway",

  • "Queen's Kway", which I thought it was for many years and got embarrassed and had to

  • learn it as a man. Okay? So it's "Queen's Quay". This is based on the old English or

  • the Germanic type. So we have the Germanic; we have the Latin; and we have the French,

  • all influencing our languages. And funny enough, because we keep them close to the original,

  • that's why they're exceptions.

  • By the way, at Queen's Quay, you think "key". Why? It's a building structure by a river

  • or lake where people can get off of their boats to go on land or we put things in to

  • put, you know, people or merchandise or things on to boats to leave. That's why "Queen's

  • Quay" is by a river. Okay? So you always hear about a quay something, the London Quay is

  • where people take off their things or put them on. We say "unload" or, you know, "load"

  • or "unload". You know, fancy words for "take off" and "put on". Right?

  • Quinoa, if you're, like, socially, like, with it, man, you're probably eating quinoa instead

  • of oatmeal or rice because you're -- and the "cue". You cue up at the doctor's office.

  • You cue up to pay your taxes. You cue up for many things. Never anything good, really.

  • Okay.

  • So this is why the "kwa" sound is in English. I hope that answers all your questions. No

  • "kestions" anymore, okay? When you come and see me, I don't want to hear any "kestions,

  • teacher". Your questions. If you have any more questions, you know where to go. First,

  • you want to do the quiz, right? And you're going to have to go to -- oh, before I forget.

  • I'm going to take my magical break. I forgot something. Are you ready?

  • Okay. So let's have some fun with the QU or "qua" sound. Now, you already know, but I'm

  • sure you don't know -- joining that, there. "Query", "quarrel", "quench", "quake", "quaint"

  • -- what do those words mean? Well, a "query" is a question or a line of questioning. A

  • query can be a noun. "Querying" -- is "queried" -- or it was "queried" is a form of a question,

  • to form a question. "I have a query." Think of "theory". Rhyming slightly, but not quite

  • the same. Okay. So "query", a question.

  • What about "quarrel"? "Quarrel" is a verbal argument. "Did you quarrel with him?" But

  • the funny thing about "quarrel", it's not just argument; it's usually with people who

  • are friends. If people have been friends or you know have a good relationship, and they're

  • having a quarrel, using that word tells me that they are friends and they're not agreeing

  • on something, versus he's not agreeing with him. There's no relationship. But a "quarrel"

  • and usually between people who know each other. Okay?

  • What about "quench"? "Quench" is like a "wench". No. It's not at all. "Quench". When you're

  • thirsty and you need to drink, like this water, for instance -- I need to drink.

  • Natural spring water. It quenches my thirst.

  • That means I am no longer needing water, or I don't need water. "Quench".

  • What about "quaint"? "Quaint". Well, the first thing you should know about "quaint" is because

  • -- it's "unusually attractive". And I'm sure you found this word very attractive because

  • it's not correct. It's a-i, like "paint", "quaint". "Quaint" means unusually attractive

  • or old-fashioned like my vest and tie. This is old-fashioned. Nobody wears this anymore.

  • Heck, I even have a hanky. That's how quaint I am. Your grandfather has these. Ask what

  • it is, boys and girls. You probably don't know. Alright.

  • So remember. A "query" is to ask a question. "I have a query." That means question. Fancy

  • ten-dollar word you can use to impress your other English students or people studying