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English placenames

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gerontius grumpus
75617.  Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:37 pm Reply with quote

This could have gone in the English language thread but I thought it deserved a thread of its own.

They are the delight of the english but a minor irritation to visitors from overseas. English placenames seem to obey even fewer rules of pronunciation than other words.
Here in the north east we have a few well known anomalies like Alnwick and a few not so well known like Prudhoe (pronounced 'Prudder')and places ending in 'ingham' (pronounced 'ingjam') like Bellingham and Ovingham..
Also GH at the end of a word is usually pronounced like an F as in Redheugh or more predictably Broomhaugh. The surname Waugh is pronounced up here as 'Woff'. The village of Ulgham is pronounced 'Uffam'.

The great thing about it is that every region has its own special peculiarities in placenames.

Quaintly Ignorant
75654.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 3:51 am Reply with quote

There is a place down here called Wymondham. Which is pronounced 'wind-dam'. In fact there are one or two places here in East Anglia like that... hmmm..

75655.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 4:07 am Reply with quote

Why is Berkshire (my home county) pronouced barkshire?

75656.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 4:09 am Reply with quote

Why is Towcester pronouned toaster?

75660.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 4:28 am Reply with quote

Iwerne (Minster or Courtney) is pronounced you-earn.

There used to be a local radio dj who always referred to it as eye-were-nee.

Strange that nobody at the station ever thought to point it out to him.

75663.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 4:56 am Reply with quote

Now here's a thing. When I Googled "Saughall" to try and nail down once and for all how it's pronounced (it's probably Sudh-l [with a voiced 'dh', like the 'th' in 'feather'] or South-all, but I really don't know), there were too many results to wade through.

So I tried 'Saughall' and 'pronounced' as two search terms, and that didn't come up with much helpful material, especially as it included such phrases as 'a pronounced tendency to..' and so on.

So I keyed in 'Saughall' and 'pron.', expecting such phrases as 'the town of Saughall (pron. Sudh-l)' or suchlike, but what came up was a blizzard of hits, all with the word porn highlighted.

Now I'm used to Google asking me, at the top of the results page, this kind of thing:

Did you mean: computer beak?

- but I don't recall its ever having auto-"corrected" a search term like this, and the fact that it automatically assumes that any user keying in 'pron' is a pornography enthusiast with an inability to spell is worrying.

75671.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 5:50 am Reply with quote

Well typing is more difficult if only using the left hand ...

Moving swiftly on, this link

says that Saughall is pronounced "Sawg-ul", and comes from a member of the Family History Society of Cheshire.

Just to make it confusing, apparently Soughton - a few miles to the west - is pronounced "Such-ton" (that's a Welsh "ch" - in fact the Welsh spelling "Sychdyn" makes it clearer.)

As for Norfolk, those guys must do it on purpose. Wy(mo)ndham has already been mentioned, but there is also Hunst(ant)on, Le(theri)ngsett, Gar(boldi)sham and Ha(pp)isburgh to name just four. I've absolutely no idea why this silliness occurs so maybe a person of Norfolk could enlighten us. Over to you, Mr Fry!

75676.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:00 am Reply with quote

I'm going to Hunst(ant)on in August - thanks for the tip!

75677.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:05 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Just to make it confusing, apparently Soughton - a few miles to the west - is pronounced "Such-ton" (that's a Welsh "ch" - in fact the Welsh spelling "Sychdyn" makes it clearer.)

I lived for years near Soughton, and still have relatives there, but I have to say I never heard anybody pronounce it with a Welsh 'ch' - the first element was pronounced exactly as in the word 'sought'.

'Sychdyn', on the other hand, is always pronounced in the Welsh manner, which is approximately Sukh-din.

Unfortunately, the sound of the Welsh name is very close to "Sych dy din", which means 'wipe your arse'.

I actually lived in the nearby town of Yr Wyddgrug - a beautiful name for a place whose English name is, most unfortunately, Mold.

75679.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:08 am Reply with quote

We studied The Boy With a Cart at school, so 45 years later we visited the village where it's set - Steyning.

And it took all of those 45 years to discover, upon getting there, that its name is pronounced 'Stenning'.

75682.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:34 am Reply with quote

Ah yes, Steyning - very picture-skew.

We have a rather similar one in Kent in the form of Teynham (Tennum), as well as Meopham (Meppum) and Wrotham (Rootum).

A couple of years ago, a small Hertfordshire village was in the news because there had been a murder there. It's called Furneux Pelham, and you like me like the BBC probably thought the first word was "Furn-uh". But no, it's "Furn-ucks" - my husband's brother lives in nearby Bishop's Stortford and is adamant on the fact.

These English ...

75685.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:50 am Reply with quote

Yr Wyddgrug

How is that pronounced?

75687.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:52 am Reply with quote

I fear that most of the inhabitants pronounce it "Mold"...

75691.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:58 am Reply with quote

samivel wrote:
Yr Wyddgrug

How is that pronounced?

Urr (as in 'hurry') with (as in 'wither') grigg.

75693.  Tue Jun 20, 2006 7:05 am Reply with quote

Thank you. :)


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