So is it a basci-NET or a basci-NAY and does it really matter?
The archeres myghte no more schete;
Men off armes the swedes outbrede;
Balles out of hoodes, soon they pleyde.
Swylke stokes they hem geve,
That helm and bacynet al to-reve,
That on the schuldre fel the brayn.
The Crystene men slowgh hem with mayn.
The foote folk and sympl knaves,
In hande they hente ful good staves;
Ther was no Sarezyn in that flok,
But, yiff that he hadde had a knok,
With a staff well i-sett
On helm, other on bacynet,
That he ne yede doun, sauns fayle,
Off hys hors, top on tayle.
Soone, withinne a lytyl stounde,
The moste party yede to grounde.”1
So unless they dropped the entire rhyming convention of the over 7,000 line poem, bacynet rhymes with -sett, and therefore, as used in Middle English, should be pronounced with a hard T in this instance. So I think it fair, that if you’re speaking English, when you say the word ‘bascinet’ or any of the other ‘-et’ armor words, you’re saying an English word, and should consider pronouncing it as such. I’m usually confronted with ‘But it’s a French word!” In reality, it’s also been an English word for 600+ years. When you take into account the Italian word for the bascinet, it is bacinetto in which case the T’s are not only pronounced, but emphasized as represented by the double consonant. The word has made it into several languages, each with their unique pronunciation. This is why I think it makes the most sense as an English speaker to use an English pronunciation of the word that’s been part of the English language since the Late Medieval period. In the end, who really cares as long as the meaning is mutually intelligible? But I thought some folks would find this interesting.
1. Ramsay, G. Metrical Romances of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. 1810. George Ramsay and Company.