French words starting in ch- compared to other Romance languages

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One particularity of French is that many 'c' sounds changed into 'ch' (pronounced 'sh'). I have made a list of most of the words I could think of derived from Latin that underwent that mutation. Many of them were inherited by English (chain, chamber, change, chapel, charge, chaste), but a few kept the origin 'c' in English (camel, cat, castle) probably because they hadn't mutated yet by the time of the Norman conquest.

Words with a different etymology are in grey.

FrançaisLatinaItalianoEspañolCatalàPortuguêsRomana
chaînecatenacatenacadenacadenacadeialanț
chambrecameracameracámaracàmeracâmaracameră
chameaucamelumcammellocamellocamellcamelocămilă
changercambiarecambiarecambiarcanviarmudarschimbare
chantercantārecantarecantarcantarcantarcântare
chantiercantheriuscantierecantierecanteiroșantier
chapeaucappellumcappellogorrogorrochapéupălărie
chapelcappellacapellacapelacapellacapelacapelă
chargecarricōcaricocargocàrreccargaîncărca
chastecastuscastocastocastocastocastă
chatcattusgattogatogatgatopisică
châtaignecastanĕacastagnacastañacastanyacastanhacastană
châteaucastrumcastellocastillocastellcastelocastel
châtiercastigocastigarecastigarcastigarcastigarpedepsi
chaudcalidumcaldocalientecalentquentecald
chausséecalceatacarreggiatacalzadacalçadacalçudocarosabil
chemincammīnuscaminocaminocamícaminhocale
chemisecamisiacamisacamisacamisacamisacămașă
cher/chéricaruscarocaro/queridocarcaro/queridodragă
chevalcavalluscavallocaballocavallcavalocal
cheveucapilluscapellicabellocabellcabelopăr
chèvrecapraecapracabracabracabracapră
chiencaniscaneperrogoscãocâine
choircaderecaderecaercaurecaircădere
chosecausacosacosacosacoisachestie
 
One particularity of French is that many 'c' sounds changed into 'ch' (pronounced 'sh'). I have made a list of most of the words I could think of derived from Latin that underwent that mutation. Many of them were inherited by English (chain, chamber, change, chapel, charge, chaste), but a few kept the origin 'c' in English (camel, cat, castle) probably because they hadn't mutated yet by the time of the Norman conquest.

Words with a different etymology are in grey.

FrançaisLatinaItalianoEspañolCatalàPortuguêsRomana
chaînecatenacatenacadenacadenacadeialanț
chambrecameracameracámaracàmeracâmaracameră
chameaucamelumcammellocamellocamellcamelocămilă
changercambiarecambiarecambiarcanviarmudarschimbare
chantercantārecantarecantarcantarcantarcântare
chantiercantheriuscantierecantierecanteiroșantier
chapeaucappellumcappellogorrogorrochapéupălărie
chapelcappellacapellacapelacapellacapelacapelă
chargecarricōcaricocargocàrreccargaîncărca
chastecastuscastocastocastocastocastă
chatcattusgattogatogatgatopisică
châtaignecastanĕacastagnacastañacastanyacastanhacastană
châteaucastrumcastellocastillocastellcastelocastel
châtiercastigocastigarecastigarcastigarcastigarpedepsi
chaudcalidumcaldocalientecalentquentecald
chausséecalceatacarreggiatacalzadacalçadacalçudocarosabil
chemincammīnuscaminocaminocamícaminhocale
chemisecamisiacamisacamisacamisacamisacămașă
cher/chéricaruscarocaro/queridocarcaro/queridodragă
chevalcavalluscavallocaballocavallcavalocal
cheveucapilluscapellicabellocabellcabelopăr
chèvrecapraecapracabracabracabracapră
chiencaniscaneperrogoscãocâine
choircaderecaderecaercaurecaircădere
chosecausacosacosacosacoisachestie

many of those you claim to be inherited in English also exist in Dutch, so I guess something else than the Norman conquest is at hand :

chain - ketting
chamber - kamer
chapel - kapel
camel - kameel
cat - kat
castle - kasteel

where English has ch and different pronounciation than c, in Dutch the pronounciation is always like c in cat
 
many of those you claim to be inherited in English also exist in Dutch, so I guess something else than the Norman conquest is at hand :

chain - ketting
chamber - kamer
chapel - kapel
camel - kameel
cat - kat
castle - kasteel

where English has ch and different pronounciation than c, in Dutch the pronounciation is always like c in cat

These Dutch words are all borrowing from Latin. Ketting is the least obvious but it derives from ketene, from Latin catena. Camel is ultimately of Semitic origin, but came through Latin.
 
In fact, the alternation between the “ch” in French and the “c” in Portuguese is interesting.

French Portuguese
ChampCampo
ChauveCalvo
Chariot Carruagem
EnchantéEncantado
ChienneCadela
ChansonCanção
CharitéCaridade
ChaudièreCaldeira
 
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so, it is the ch which is typical french, and the Normans would have introduced this in English ?
 
I ssuppose knowledged linguists could answer here. I just propose my hypothesis:
left aside the recent litterary borrowings, I think that the most of romance words in English which kept the 'c' (/k/ sound) are of Norman origin? and the most of the 'ch' ones (/sh/ in French, /ch/ in English) are of old Angevin and other more "normal" Oïl dialects, since the Plantagenêts.
I base myself on: the conservation of /k/ sounds in northern Normand dialects and in Picard dialects, surely because of a stronger Germanic input.

In Germanic, as a whole 'K' stays /k/ before vowels whatever the kind, except before some frontal opening diphtongs as in 'choose'
from something like *'keos' (Dutch 'kiezen') Gothic 'kiusan'; in fact, palatalization is very rare in GermanicS, except in this kind of rare cases in English and Frisian, and sometime in Swedish and Norwegian were 'k'+front vowel > kind of /ç/ or /hy/ -
 
The french palatalisation before 'a' occurred later than the first before 'e' and 'i',
 
.... and didn't go until the 'c' /s/ (/k/ > /tch/ > /ts/ > /s/), but evolved as /tch/ > /sh/) - surely the 'a' of those times was a rather frontal 'a', close to /ae/ - today in dominant popular Oïl French the 'c' before open 'a' (frontal) tends towards /ky/ when before a back 'a' (written 'â' often) it stays a velar /k/;
 
FrançaisLatinaItalianoEspañolCatalàPortuguêsRomana
changercambiarecambiarecambiarcanviarmudarschimbare


Mudar also exists in Spanish, except it means specifically to change the place you live at.
 
Looking purely at inherited etymology and phonetic evolution, rather than semantics, you can also add Romanian 'câștiga', from Lat. 'castigare', which underwent an unusual development in sense, meaning to "win" now. There may be a word 'cătină' that may derive from 'catena', and refers to certain species of plants, although this is uncertain. 'Schimbare' is technically cognate to French 'echanger', Italian 'scambiare', Spanish 'escambiar', etc and has a hard -k- sound. Some of the other Romanian words listed are either not inherited and borrowed, or of some other source.

But yes French tended to palatize the original hard Latin -c- and turn it into -ch-, but not always. Also, in those cases of English getting a Latin based word from French with a hard -c-, that is because they were taken from a different dialect, Old Northern French or Old Norman, which happened to preserve the hard -c-/-k- sound. That's still the case in some of those northern dialects in Normandy today, and it's not that they were just borrowed early enough into English. (y)
 

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