Why is the football team Celtic pronounced with a soft C? The Saturday Briefing | Life | Life & Style



Q.The football team Celtic is pronounced with a soft C as in the word cell.

But the Celts, as in the original race of people in Britain, is pronounced with a hard C as in the word call.

I’ve always believed the football club was named after the race of people. So why are they not called Celtic using the hard C? James Hanson by email

A. We adopted the words Celt and Celtic from two linguistic sources.

Originally, in the17th century, we took the words from the French, pronounced with a soft C.

Later, especially in academic uses, historians went back to the original Latin Celtae for the people of Gaul which they pronounced with a hard C.

References to the history and culture of the ancient people this tended to follow the Latin, more modern references, such as football, tended to stick to the French.

Hence the Celts (pronounced Kelts) and Celtic FC (pronounced Seltic)

Q. I have been browsing a book called Symbol Of Courage about people who won the Victoria Cross but can’t nd any female names.

Have no women won the VC or are they not allowed to receive the VC? Billy McGuire, Huddersfield

A. If you visit the Imperial War Museum you may see a replica Victoria Cross awarded to Elizabeth Webber Harris, whose husband was commanding officer of the 104th Regiment (Bengal Fusiliers) in Peshawar in 1869 when it was hit by a cholera epidemic.

For three months she lived among troops doing what she could to treat the sick.

At the time women were not eligible to receive the Victoria Cross but feeling she had lived up to its traditions, officers of the regiment had a gold replica VC made to reflect her “indomitable pluck” which was presented to her with special permission from Queen Victoria herself.

Since 1921 women have been eligible to receive a VC but none has yet been awarded.

Elizabeth Harris, who died in 1917 aged 82, is still sometimes referred to as the only woman to have won a VC.

Q. Why are holders of a PhD entitled to be called Doctor, even if their degree has no relevance whatsoever to matters medical?

Is this something historical?

Has a more appropriate word ever been mooted?

I was on a plane recently when someone was taken ill and the pilot asked if there was a medical doctor on board.

He emphasised the word medical. Norman Rendle, Cardiff

A. Actually it’s the other way around: the word doctor was originally Latin for a teacher and was applied to anyone who attained the highest university degree in any subject.

There were Doctors of the Church and Doctors of Philosophy and Doctors of Law long before the term doctor came to be applied to medical practitioners which only became common around the start of the 18th century.

If you want another apposite term you could try calling doctors of medicine physicians.


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