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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Say What?

Over at Bookfoolery and Babble, the Bookfool has a "new" book on English Country Houses. She mentions, among other things, that the name Chermondsley is pronounced "Chum ly," and I thought it would be interesting to know more about British pronunciation. Leicestershire is "Lester," Magdalene College at Oxford is (I think) "Mawd lin," and to my chagrin, after years of saying St. John (from Jane Eyre), I discovered it was pronounced "SinJin." I couldn't remember anymore, but if others know of words, especially names/place names, that sound drastically different from the way they are spelled, please share.

I have misplaced Tender at the Bone; where in my various stacks of books have I put it? Since I couldn't locate it last night, I started The Thirteen Tales and quickly found myself immersed in an alternate and fascinating world.


  1. Okay, I'm confused (big surprise)...Thirteen Tales or the Thirteenth Tale?

    I find British pronunciation fascinating as well.

  2. I think it is interesting, too, how some names are said completely different than how they look!! There is a place in Dublin with a long spelling (too lazy to look it up now), but is said Dun Leery! I meant to say the other day that the Reichl books look interesting--I have the first few of her books in my TBR pile!

  3. I've been ill,Carl, and have obviously not fully recovered! The Thirteenth Tale, of course. Shaking my head in dismay.

    Danielle - Oh, and the traditional Scottish Ceilidh (kay lee). I saw the most marvelous one in Edinburgh once and even thinking about it makes me want to dance.

    I've misplaced my copy of Tender at the Bone and am currently searching the house. Cannot imagine where I left it!

  4. I knew about St. John but not the others. I can see taking those long words and making them easier to say. It will be interesting to see what other words pop up.

  5. There's always leftenant which is a strange way to say lieutenant.

  6. I hate getting pronunciation wrong, but I'm so terrible at it -- I need lots of help!

  7. Framed - I only discovered the pronunciation of St. John a few years ago!

    Sherry - "Some sources state that the original French word lieu (i.e. "place", since "lieu tenant" literally means "place holder" in old French) had an alternative form spelt and pronounced lieuf, and that the most common modern form retains the former spelling 'Lieutenant' and the latter pronunciation, 'Leftenant'.

    It has also been speculated that it may have come from a fanciful etymology which associated it with the verb 'to leave', as the lieutenant only took up his duties once his superior officer had 'left'."

    Dorothy - So many words are a product of a localized pronounciation that we all have to have help!

  8. Holburn in London is pronounced Hoe-burn

    The county of Berkshire is pronounced Bark-sheer

    The city of Reading is pronounced Red-ing

    There are loads more, but these are the ones that stick in my mind from when I first moved to these shores in 1998 (from Australia)

  9. Kimbofo - Thanks for the new additions! The first two are new to me. We have a Reading, PA that must have retained the original pronunciation. If you think of more, please add them!

  10. Edinburgh - pronounced Edinburrer

    Beauchamp - pronounced Beecham

    There are lots more!!

  11. I think Belvoir Castle is pronounced "Beever." But we Americans also have some peculiar pronunciations. Quincy, MA, is "Quinzee," the h drops out of Amherst, and Peabody is pronunced "PEE-buddy." Then there's the New England R problem . . .


  12. emasl and Mary - Thanks for the additions!