Leftenant or Lootenant?

  m800afc 22:21 01 Jul 08

Lieutenant, is pronounced Leftenant in the British army, so I have been told. It is Lootenant in the US. Can anyone enlighten me as to how the difference originally came about, and if possible why? Any connection with the german 'Loytnant'?

  Mr Mistoffelees 22:42 01 Jul 08

Take a look at click here

  bluto1 22:46 01 Jul 08

I doubt any connection with "Loytnant" and as far as Lootenant is concerned I'd say that came about through the "Lieu..." spelling. Probably the closest the Americans got to pronouncing a European word correctly. Origin French.

  Forum Editor 23:29 01 Jul 08

is actually the wrong one - Lieutenant is a French word, meaning 'place holder' and as far back as the 14th century English people were mispronouncing it. The american pronounciation is far closer to being correct.

Strangely, we wouldn't dream of saying "I'll accept payment in lef of my holiday entitlement"

We get it right, and say '...in lieu (loo) of my holiday entitlement' and we should really be saying 'lootenant' like the americans.

  Bingalau 10:25 02 Jul 08

American spellings and pronounciations are more likely to be correct than our English versions. I'm not too sure about the word aluminium though?

  UncleP 10:47 02 Jul 08

English is a very widely used language, and variations in spelling, pronunciation and meanings are only to be expected. In the absence of a universally agreed standard, none of these are 'wrong' or 'incorrect' - common usage determines what is acceptable at a particular time or in a given country. I'd agree of course that, with some words, it is difficult to follow the evolutionary trail from the original to the current version.

  Covergirl 13:06 02 Jul 08

Sorry, it doesn't paste accurately from Wiki but I need a translator for that !

  Bingalau 16:02 02 Jul 08

fourm member. Hey have you been taking lessons in disrespect from Brumas?

  Grey Goo 22:07 02 Jul 08

Whenever I hear loo tenant I seem to imagine someone sitting on the Karzi.

  Forum Editor 23:27 02 Jul 08

Interestingly, when we refer to 'the loo', we might be using a corruption of the French word for water - L'eau.

One theory is that the word derives fom the habit people had in times past, when hygienic sewage disposal was but a distant dream, of chucking the contents of their chamber pots out of the bedroom window of a morning. As a token show of concern for the people walking in the street below the chucker would call out "Gardez l'eau" (mind the water!), although the English pronounciation was more prbably 'Gardyloo' - from which eventually came 'loo'.

  UncleP 00:44 03 Jul 08

You miss my point, which was that neither version is universally correct or wrong, as stated by Bingalau and the FE. The similarity to the original European pronunciation has long since lost any relevance, and today 'left-tenant' is generally accepted in the UK, and 'loo-tenant' in the States, and both are hence correct in their respective locations.

Languages are flexible structures, evolving according to the whims and requirements of their users, and I see no point in making value judgements on local variations which crop up during this process. Which brings us back to the original point of this thread - when did the British Army adopt the original European word and why did they modify it in such a distinctive way?

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