I've been keeping up with a show called "The Next Food Network Star", in which a number of cooks compete for their own show on the food network. In one of the episodes the contestants had to create and market their own pre-packaged food product. One of the contestants chose to make a chocolate sauce containing cherries and cognac, and marketed it as "Cherri-gac", pronounced ˈtʃeɹiˌjæk. What I thought was interesting about the spelling is the perception of the "g" and /j/, even though it comes before the "n". The original French pronunciation would be koɲɒk, with a probable American phonemicization of kɒnjæk, unless the speaker really has a palatal nasal in their idiolect.
Thus the "gn" sequence in "cognac" is interpreted as a phonetic [nj] sequence, and apparently it didn't bother this contestant that the [j] sound comes after the "n" while the orthographic "g" comes before the "n". I thought this was rather strange because (if I can try to remember back before I started being interested in orthography and pronunciation) I think my original interpretation of "gn" sequences in French and Italian was that the "g" was silent, and the palatalization of the "n" was just a quirk of those words in those languages. Clearly this is not the only way people view that digraph. Since he associated the "g" with [j], it made sense to him to spell his product as he did.
Jerome Stueart interview (pt. 3)
4 years ago