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'?
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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?