"Lich", pronounciation

Johan Landgren   Friday, January 02, 2004, 23:06 GMT
I'm having a little argument with my brother regarding the pronounciation of the word "lich". Thought I'd get a few opinions from native English speakers (being Swedish myself). How do you pronounce the word? I would say "litsh", while my brother suggests "lish", without the "t" sound.

The word is not to be found in any of the dictionaries I've tried, by the way.

Does anyone know where this word comes from? I guess it's got a complicated history like the one I read about the word "wraith" in a book concerning the Lord of the rings by JRR Tolkien...
mjd   Sunday, January 04, 2004, 08:25 GMT
I know it says "MJH," but just to set the record straight, I did not write the immature post above.

If I were asked to pronounce the word "lich," I'd probably pronounce with the German "ch" sound (I don't know how to represent this using English sounds)....perhaps similar to what Johan wrote "litsh." It looks like a German or Scandinavian word, so I wouldn't apply English pronunciation to it.
mjd   Sunday, January 04, 2004, 08:27 GMT

"I'd probably pronounce IT with the German......"
Johan Landgren   Sunday, January 04, 2004, 14:17 GMT
I guess it's an old English word. I've heard it pronounced (by native English speakers) with a "t" sound (the ch in "lich" being pronounced like the ch in which).
Jacob   Sunday, January 04, 2004, 14:38 GMT
Everyone I know pronounces lich to rhyme with rich. I don't think I've ever seen the word used outside of the Dungeons & Dragons world, though.

The fact that the plural is formed with "-es" seems a good clue that the "ch" isn't supposed to represent a hard "ck" sound or a gutteral sound like the end of "Bach."
mjd   Sunday, January 04, 2004, 18:42 GMT
I had never heard of the word before I read this thread.
Jim   Monday, January 05, 2004, 03:06 GMT
Nor had I but like Mjd I'd have pronounced it like "loch" (just changing to vowel). This is probably because "Liechtenstein" is what first springs to mind when I see the word or maybe it's because it looks foreign: I never knew that such a word existed, what does it mean?

There is no symbol for the unvoiced vecular fricative (this "ch" in "Bach" and "loch") in Antimoon's phonetic alphabet but I suggest using /K/. So /litS/, /liS/, /lik/ or /liK/ ... don't ask me: I don't frequent the Dungeons & Dragons world.
A.S.C.M.   Monday, January 05, 2004, 06:11 GMT
How about representing the unvoiced vecular fricative (this "ch" in "Bach and "loch") with /X/, since that's the symbol used in the Cyrillic/Russian alphabet?

Therefore, /loX/ /ba:X/ /liX/
Jim   Monday, January 05, 2004, 06:16 GMT
Yeah, that would work too. Didn't they get it it from the Greek alphabet? This (Greek letter chi which looks like "x") is the one they use in the IPA too. So, I think it would also be a good choice but why capitalise it? Why not /x/ thus /lox/, /ba:x/ & /lix/? Using lower case saves pressing the shift key.
Simon   Monday, January 05, 2004, 08:53 GMT
Dungeons and Dragons. Don't do it, kids!
Jaro   Monday, January 05, 2004, 19:53 GMT
Yes, Cyrilic does come from the Greek alphabet. It was created by the aprentices of Cyril (Konstantin) and Metod, who were invited by the king of Great Moravia - Konstantin to create an alphabet for Slavs. They arrived in 863 AD and during their route they created an alphabet called hlaholic (this is my guess, we call it hlaholika) which was based on the small greek letters. They also translated bible to "starosloviencina" (ancient slavic language) so church services could be lead in this language. After the death of Cyril and Metod their aprentices were expelled from Great Moravia. They went to Serbia, Russia and they created an alphabet from capital greek letters called today Cyrilic. After their expulsion, Great Moravia used modified Latin alphabet till its downfall.
That's how Russians got to Cyrilic :)
Johan Landgren   Saturday, January 10, 2004, 23:36 GMT
The word lich is used quite frequently not only in D&D but also in many fantasy computer games, for example.

Regarding the name Bach:
A common mistake among people whose first language is English is to pronounce the vowel in the name with a long "a" sound (a:). In German it's actually pronounced with a short "a".
I wonder what the name Bach might mean; it's also used as a part of names like Goldbach and Merkelbach....
Clark   Sunday, January 11, 2004, 00:33 GMT
What? You are kidding, right? I have never heard any English-speaker pronounce "Bach" with an "a" sound like in "cape." I have not heard all English-speakers say this word, mind you, but I have heard many English-speakers and never have they pronounced Bach like you said they do.
Jim   Tuesday, January 13, 2004, 06:49 GMT
The vowel in "cape" is not the "long 'a' sound (a:)" that Johan mentioned. He meant the first vowel in "father".

"Father" is pronounced [fa:TH..(r)] but apparently [ba:x] ([ba:X] or [ba:K]) is a common mispronunciation for "Bach".
Doug   Saturday, January 24, 2004, 00:21 GMT
Hello, I am a professor of linguistics at the University of California at San Diego, and am also a huge D & D fan. I can definitively say that the word "lich," which in the realm of D & D and other fantasy worlds means a powerful undead mage, is pronounced the same as the word "like," and in to be fond of something.
Douglass Fischer, PhD