Why does the letter “Q” always appear in the English language followed by the letter “U”?

Here is one view on the subject.

Apparently it’s because the alphabets from which the Greek and Roman ones were derived had a separate letter for the ‘kw’ sound; the languages/words retained the sound, but not the letter.



A listing of words that start with “Q” that do not have the letter U.

Sure; there are bigger lists than that, too, but the OP specifically mentions English words; whilst those on the Hasbro list are in the English dictionary, they’re all fairly obvious imports (mostly recent) from middle eastern languages.

Because all the words in the English vocabulary with “Q” in them are followed by “U”. Q.E.D.

I posed the question because I was once asked by someone overseas if Australians spoke English: after all, our national airline is called “QANTAS” and does not have a “QU” combination in the word. (“Queensland and Northern Territory Air Service” being the etymology for those who don’t know.)

Interesting, does anyone know if the gutteral k sound as mentioned in that article is the same as the Scottish ch as in loch ?

I’m sure there is a Scot on this board but as an Englishman I’ll offer my own view.

When pronouncing Qatar (stressing the first syllable) I articulate a hard k as in killer (also stressing the first syllable).

I pronounce the ch in loch with a marginally softer k sound, as in Christ. Try it yourself and you will notice a difference. (I can’t think of another word ending in ch which is pronounced in the same way as loch, although there probably is one.)

I certainly don’t pronounce the ch in loch as in which.

I realise I should get out more but I’ve spent the last 10 minutes looking in my dictionary for words beginning with k, ending with k, or both, or beginning with ch (as in Christ) or ending in ch (as in loch) and pronouncing them out loud. I have therefore decide that:

I kick ass when I attack and kill a king in a khaki colored kayak in a loch in Qatar at Christmas with a kukri.

Am I kinky?

Um, no. The sound you describe, /x/ (in the International Phonetic Alphabet) is neither guttural nor all that much like a /k/ sound. The Arabic letter that corresponds is qoph, which is (if memory serves) a pharyngealized velar stop, which basically means it’s like /k/ except you’ll never pronounce it right. /x/, as in the Scots loch, is not a stop but a fricative.