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The sherry-jerez connection

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  • The sherry-jerez connection

    I hace to share this with... well, not necessarily a British native, but someone who knows very well English culture. I need to solve a question that has remained in a corner of my brain for fifteen years!

    2002, I was working in a fancy bar in Oxford. A client asked for a sherry, we started to talk and, as soon as he knew that I was Spanish (easy, because of my accent; even so, he was alredy in his third sherry, which shows that he was faster with sherry than with accents), he told me this strange theory: Spanish sound /x/ (fricativa velar sorda), like in "jerez", is a derivation from English sound /ʃ/ (like in "sherry"), originated in XVIII century by the pronunciation problems of that moment Spanish king (he didn't specify which one in the story); he was unable to pronounce the English word "sherry" and somehow that sound passed to all Spanish subjects. He wasn't drunk, though (the client, not the king).

    Of course, the story is a delirious statement, but here comes my question: was this nonsense produced by that particular man, "inspired" by sherry, or is this nonsense some kind of "general theory" in England? I mean, have you ever heard something like this?
    www.lingostan.com

  • #2
    Victor, that sounds like an intriguing story!

    Unfortunately I have to say that I have no prior knowledge of this and it is not something engrained in British culture. That's as far as I know.

    Looks like he was very fond of the sherry, as you said! I think we can disregard this as an urban myth unless somebody can correct me.

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    • #3
      Whether a myth or truth, it's a fascinating story. I'd like it to be true.

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      • #4
        Hehe, you'd like it to be true? I think the guy also; at first I thought he was kidding me, but he seemed too serious for that. I was intrigued because there is a real connection, since "sherry" is in fact a derivation from Andalousian wine called jerez, from Jerez region (called "vino de Jerez") But we say "jerez", and we have always done, as fr as I know. Certainly, old Spanish graph for that sound was an X (it has survived in "México", for example, which is pronounced "Méjico"). So maybe this guy have heard something in some documentary, but he was to envolved with sherry in that moment to fully understand it...
        www.lingostan.com

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        • #5
          I haven't heard that, interesting though the theory is. But on a related topic I have heartd it suggested that the Castillian pronunciation of the letter Z, as "th", was due to one of the Spanish kings having a bad "lisp" and all his courtiers - and subsequently all his subjects - adopted the different pronunciation (unlike those in Catalunya, Andaluz, etc).

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          • #6
            @Laury that is basically the same thing, but just changinf the sound referred to (J for Z)!!! Great!!! And you heared that in England? A lot, I mean, is a kind of popular saying or something? Never heard talkingabout other sounds (for ejample, some Polish weird /s/ sound)?
            www.lingostan.com

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