Vegan. Why is it a hard 'gee' when vegetarian is a soft 'gee'?
August 12, 2013 4:21 AM   Subscribe

I couldn't answer this when my Polish friend asked me why the letter changed sound, does anyone else know?
posted by dash_slot- to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Because 'veejan' sounds weird, I'd guess. It's a neologism, from 1944.
The word vegan was coined in England by Donald Watson in 1944. He, along with several other members of the Vegetarian Society in Leicester, England, wanted to form an alliance of nondairy vegetarians as a subgroup of the Society. When their proposal was rejected, they ventured to start their own organization. They prospected what to call themselves, and, after evaluating a range of ingenious possibilities, agreed that "vegan" (decisively pronounced VEE-gn, with a long "e" and hard "g") was best. It was derived from the word "vegetarian" by taking the first three letters (veg) and the last two letters (an) because, as Donald Watson explained, "veganism starts with vegetarianism and carries it through to its logical conclusion."
posted by MuffinMan at 4:27 AM on August 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I made a Metafilter post in part on this very subject!

In the link, you can read scans of the early editions of the Vegan News in which the word was coined (the pronunciation issue is discussed in issue 1 or 2 from memory). Essentially, it was given a hard g because Donald Watson and Elsie Shrigley decided they wanted to pronounce it that way.
posted by dontjumplarry at 4:31 AM on August 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This pronunciation also follows the general rule relating to the vowel that follows the "g." In most cases, a "g" is soft when followed by an "e," and hard when followed by an "a."
posted by Dolley at 7:02 AM on August 12, 2013 [17 favorites]

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