Pronunciation of "Gill Sans"

More than a decade ago, I audited a typography and graphic design class at a local university. The professor teaching the class pronounced “Gill Sans” as “Gee Sahh” (hard g). Since “Gill Sans” is a word that you seldom hear spoken outside of typographic-related venues, I have no idea whether the prof was correct, or just being pretentious; I usually pronounce the typeface name as it’s written, not as if it’s a French term.

So, how is “Gill Sans” pronounced?

The “sans” is from the French (without) referring to sans serif. However, Eric Gill was British (Wikipedia) and so almost certainly pronounced his name the same as fish breathing apparatus. I think some people pronounce “sans” as it looks phonetically in English, not sure what the convention is in the font world.

All the (U.S. American) graphic designers I know pronounce the “sans” in sans-serif like “sanz” (a-sound like in “cat”).

I’ve mostly heard “Gill Sans” as “GILL SAENZ.” (I very occasionally will hear “sans” as “SAHN” or “SAHNS”). Even if your teacher is trying to affect a French pronunciation, you should still hear an “n” at the end of “sans.”

As has already been noted, Eric Gill was British, and his surname had nothing to do with anything French.

That doesn’t help - how the hell do you pronounce “saenz”? Is that the diphthong long-i sound?

Sorry. No diphthong. I was using “ae” to represent the “a” sound as in “man” or “cat” or “apple.” “Sans” rhymes with “man’s” and “tans.” Technically, I should have written it as “ӕ.”

I think “sans” counts as an English word too. Shakespeare used it. Admittedly it sounds a bit old-fashioned and pretentious these days, but you still hear it occasionally outside of the typographical context, pronounced the English way.

It’s because Gill Sans is a sans serif font. Most graphic types that I know of would pronounce it as “sans” to rhyme with “man’s” rather than the French pronunciation.

I guess if I were going to pronounce it I’d do the same, but I just write it on the spec sheet.

“Sans” is fully an English word. My AHD lists it as coming from Middle English (and Old French before that).

I don’t share the perception that it sounds old-fashioned or pretentious. I hear it fairly frequently in casual conversation. Just do a google for “sans any”.

I’ve always heard it pronounced “Gill” like the fish. The “sans” is almost like “sands,” since most Americans don’t really say that “d” anyway.