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#1
Old 02-19-2000, 04:08 AM
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Why are a few English surnames pronounced so differently than they are spelled? I’m thinking of names such as Churmondley (pronounced Chumley), Mainwaring (pronounced Mannering), and Featheringstonehaugh (pronounced Fanshaw). Stephen Fry mentioned these names in the afterword of a “Jeeves and Wooster” episode (he was commenting upon the pronunciation of P.J. Wodehouse’s name), but he never explained how or why their pronunciations had diverged from their spellings.

Were these names ever pronounced the way they were spelled? Or were they always pronounced the way they are now and the extra letters just thrown in later on a whim?
#2
Old 02-19-2000, 04:35 AM
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I've got nothing to add except that I've also wondered why Taliaferro is pronounced as "Toliver."
#3
Old 02-19-2000, 05:16 AM
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I'd always thought that the name pronounced 'Chumley' was spelt 'Cholmondley'. Give or take a letter or two.
#4
Old 02-19-2000, 09:56 AM
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This phenomenon must be related to the peculiar process that renders English names so strangely, e.g., Wooster for Worcestershire, etc.
#5
Old 02-19-2000, 11:01 AM
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A WAG with no support: if you pronounce those names as they are spelled over and over agin rapidly, they start to sound like the current pronunciations. Seems to work. I don't know if the British are known for being "fast-talkers"; there was a scene in an episode of "I Love Lucy" to that effect (that's good enough for me!), but I don't notice it in recent Britcoms, my only source for hearing British speakers.
#6
Old 02-19-2000, 11:42 AM
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I know of one man with the name of Raymond Luxury-Yacht, yet it is pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove".

curious, indeed.

Phouchg
#7
Old 02-19-2000, 12:08 PM
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My mother's maiden name Wrisley (which rhymes with grizzly) apparently was spelled Wriotheseley at one point.
#8
Old 02-19-2000, 05:02 PM
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FINUCANE=fi-NOO-kun
BEAUCHAMP=BEE-chum
An American in London had this conversation with a Bobby:
TOURIST: How do I get to Cholmondeley?
BOBBY: Cholmondeley? Never heart of it.
TOURIST: You know: C-h-o-l-m-o-n-d-e-l-e-y.
BOBBY: Ah yes. Chumley!
(A short conversation follows, ending with
BOBBY: I am planning a holidy to America, and I must be sure to see Niagara Falls.
TOURIST: Niagara Falls? Never heard of it.
BOBBY: You know: N-i-a-g-a-r-a F-a-l-l-s.
TOURIST: Ah, yes. Nuffles!
#9
Old 02-19-2000, 05:05 PM
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Excuse me: the line in the middle should have said "ending with this:"
#10
Old 02-20-2000, 01:05 AM
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Nuffle that.

But what is a featherstonehaugh? My dictionary says 'haugh' is Scottish English for 'a low-lying meadow in a river valley'. Is an FSH such a valley with light-weight stones?

Ray (not heavy into petrology)
#11
Old 02-20-2000, 01:18 AM
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Lots of possibilities. I'd guess that all the names were spelled the way they were pronounced at the time they were fixed in form (since that's typical). As time went on, the pronunciations of longer names changed to make them easier to say.

The names may also have gotten their spelling through a folk etymology. Fir instance, "Churmondley" could have come from the French (something like Charminlé). Later the pronunciation changed.

Around here, I knew a Featherstonehaugh who did pronounce her name the same way it's spelled (though not with the gutteral it obviously originally had).

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#12
Old 02-20-2000, 01:40 AM
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Mark my words, before this thread is successfully over a guy named Bill Caxton will appear.
#13
Old 06-02-2017, 11:46 PM
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English abbreviated name pronounciation

I think they are elisions...old renderings of older words by a populace whose pronounciations/speech/accent etc. simply shortened them. Like Mousehole is "mowzal" and St. James is "Sinjin"...I don't know this for a fact. One would need to know how they were pronounced by their "creators". Also, very often words descended from other languages and in translation the pronounciation became confused. In "Ye Olde Shoppe", "Ye" is pronounced "the" because " Y" looks like the Greek Theta (which is "T" in modern language). In old English, the symbol for theta was used for the "t" sound...hence, "Ye". The third thing is that standardization of spelling is a fairly recent phenomenon. Shakespeare spelt his own name in varied fashion.
#14
Old 06-03-2017, 12:02 AM
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I discovered P. G. Wodehouse books as a young'un, and as a basic midwestern American kid, assumed the names were pronounced "normally". One book was full of 'Cholmondley's.. pronounced Chall-MON'-do-lee, of course. And that's how these names were voiced in my head for decades.

Until the saving power of audiobooks: "I say, Chumley! Let's pop down to the pub, wot?"

Oh, and I was confused why a character would ask a separate question ("What?) at the end of so many sentences. The audiobook put that in perspective, too, as an quaint lilt.

So big thanks to Tony Britton and Jonathan Cecil, who read so many great Wodehouse books. And of course Fry and Laurie for being THE Jeeves and Wooster.
#15
Old 06-03-2017, 12:06 AM
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Wow, this must be close to a record for a zombie revival.

But I actually agree with our newcomer (welcome to SDMB, KSTV). Elision is a process of skipping over letters or syllables in words or names to make them easier to say. This happens without planning or regulation but becomes commonly accepted as they gain greater usage, and then become the standard. The long written version comes first, and then people get tired of trying to say all that, and it gets shortened over time.

Nitpick: "Sinjin" is the elided form of "St. John" not "St. James."
#16
Old 06-03-2017, 12:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSTV View Post
In "Ye Olde Shoppe", "Ye" is pronounced "the" because " Y" looks like the Greek Theta (which is "T" in modern language). In old English, the symbol for theta was used for the "t" sound...hence, "Ye". The third thing is that standardization of spelling is a fairly recent phenomenon. Shakespeare spelt his own name in varied fashion.
Not quite. The Y is a substitute for the rune letter thorn, þ, which was not used in mainland Europe and so wasn't in the typsetting fonts. The appearance has slowly changes to be open at the top so it resembled a y and that type was substituted. Thorn is still used in Icelandic.
#17
Old 06-03-2017, 12:14 AM
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French helpfully drops the printed end of every word.

So there.
#18
Old 06-03-2017, 03:26 AM
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Originally Posted by dougie_monty View Post
FINUCANE=fi-NOO-kun
That's an Irish name that reflects the Irish pronunciation, albeit its spelling has been anglicised.

Some of the other examples are reflections of similar interchanges over the centuries, e.g., between Norman French or Danish and Anglo-Saxon.
#19
Old 06-03-2017, 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by digs View Post
And of course Fry and Laurie for being THE Jeeves and Wooster.
I beg to differ ...IMO Dennis Price and Ian Carmichael were THE Jeeves and Wooster.
#20
Old 06-03-2017, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Rysdad View Post
I've got nothing to add except that I've also wondered why Taliaferro is pronounced as "Toliver."
That one, at least, must be a regional thing, because SF radio icon Ray Taliaferro pronounces his name the way it is spelled.
#21
Old 06-03-2017, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Phouchg View Post
I know of one man with the name of Raymond Luxury-Yacht, yet it is pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove".
You are a very silly man and I'm not going to interview you.
#22
Old 06-03-2017, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Bones Daley View Post
I beg to differ ...IMO Dennis Price and Ian Carmichael were THE Jeeves and Wooster.
Michael Horden and Richard Briers were THE Jeeves and Wooster. Stephen Fry was too young, and Ian Carmichael was too old.

As a rule Americans tend to pronounce words exactly as they are spelt. Which won't get you very far here, try finding Leicester or Gloucester that way.
#23
Old 06-03-2017, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Ken001 View Post
You are a very silly man and I'm not going to interview you.
Considering he hasn't been on in 13 years, you probably wouldn't have had a shot anyway.
#24
Old 06-03-2017, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Yeah View Post
This phenomenon must be related to the peculiar process that renders English names so strangely, e.g., Wooster for Worcestershire, etc.
Let me be the first to nitpick here, a short 17 years after the fact.

Worcester is pronounced "wooster."

Worcestershire is is pronounced "wooster-shur."
#25
Old 06-03-2017, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by NanoByte View Post
Nuffle that.

But what is a featherstonehaugh? My dictionary says 'haugh' is Scottish English for 'a low-lying meadow in a river valley'. Is an FSH such a valley with light-weight stones?

Ray (not heavy into petrology)
That's a tuff one.
#26
Old 06-03-2017, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by robby View Post
Let me be the first to nitpick here, a short 17 years after the fact.

Worcester is pronounced "wooster."

Worcestershire is is pronounced "wooster-shur."
To nitpick your nitpick: Not when the subject is the fermented anchovy condiment - Worcestershire sauce is pronounced 'wooster sauce'
#27
Old 06-03-2017, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
To nitpick your nitpick: Not when the subject is the fermented anchovy condiment - Worcestershire sauce is pronounced 'wooster sauce'
But isn't that just a nickname for it? Wouldn't it formally be pronounced as woostuhshur sauce, or however you want to spell it out? (ETA: For example, here there are samples of four native UK speakers, and they all say it the full way. Or maybe you're making a funny?)

Last edited by pulykamell; 06-03-2017 at 01:19 PM.
#28
Old 06-03-2017, 01:21 PM
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It's woosta-sheer.
#29
Old 06-03-2017, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonySinclair View Post
That one, at least, must be a regional thing, because SF radio icon Ray Taliaferro pronounces his name the way it is spelled.
"Tolliver" for "Taliaferro" is a British pronunciation of an Italian name which has had a change in spelling.* It's not exactly a regional thing, because there is a family that emigrated from England to Virginia ( I think in the 17th century) who spelled their name " Taliaferro" and pronounced it "Tolliver". Descendants of that family still pronounce it "Tolliver" and Taliaferro county, Virginia is pronounced "Tolliver". However, many people in the US named Taliaferro are not descended from that family and do not use the "Tolliver" pronunciation.



* The original name is "Tagliaferro" and the Italian pronunciation is closer to "Tolliver" than it would appear.
#30
Old 06-03-2017, 02:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSTV View Post
[...]"Ye" is pronounced "the" because " Y" looks like the Greek Theta (which is "T" in modern language).
Theta is Θ or ϴ, and tau is T. While we're at it upsilon is Υ.
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#31
Old 06-03-2017, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robby View Post
Worcestershire is is pronounced "wooster-shur."
The town in Mass is "whuh-stuh."

Quote:
Originally Posted by doreen View Post
"Tolliver" for "Taliaferro" is a British pronunciation of an Italian name which has had a change in spelling.* It's not exactly a regional thing, because there is a family that emigrated from England to Virginia ( I think in the 17th century) who spelled their name " Taliaferro" and pronounced it "Tolliver". Descendants of that family still pronounce it "Tolliver" and Taliaferro county, Virginia is pronounced "Tolliver". However, many people in the US named Taliaferro are not descended from that family and do not use the "Tolliver" pronunciation.
Robert Heinlein wrung this dichotomy (double dichotomy? quatomy?) dry in a late novel, where the pronunciation and spelling of a man's name was a red herring.
#32
Old 06-03-2017, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSTV View Post
In "Ye Olde Shoppe", "Ye" is pronounced "the" because " Y" looks like the Greek Theta (which is "T" in modern language). In old English, the symbol for theta was used for the "t" sound...hence, "Ye".

Others have handled the corrections, but, whew that's a remarkably high density of errors-to-words there.
#33
Old 06-03-2017, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by digs View Post
And of course Fry and Laurie for being THE Jeeves and Wooster.

Hugh Laurie was amazingly an exact manifestation of how I had always imagined Bertie when reading the books.

Stephen Fry was okay as Jeeves but not great. First, he looked way too young at the time. Second, he was supposed to be the straight man but he rarely delivered a straight line properly. He always signaled the joke with his facial expressions.
#34
Old 06-03-2017, 05:56 PM
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I was mistaken in the theta origin of Ye, it is from the old Norse, old english Thorn
#35
Old 06-03-2017, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
But isn't that just a nickname for it? Wouldn't it formally be pronounced as woostuhshur sauce, or however you want to spell it out? (ETA: For example, here there are samples of four native UK speakers, and they all say it the full way. Or maybe you're making a funny?)
I think you'll get a different answer when you ask these two questions:

Q1: How do you pronounce these words: Worcestershire Sauce?

Q2: What's in this bottle?

I don't know if that makes it a nickname, or not. I think the only thing that would definitively settle it would be an ad from the manufacturer saying it one way or the other, but unfortunately, I think they always refer to it by the brand only.

Last edited by Mangetout; 06-03-2017 at 06:15 PM.
#36
Old 06-03-2017, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
I think the only thing that would definitively settle it would be an ad from the manufacturer saying it one way or the other, but unfortunately, I think they always refer to it by the brand only.
I was wrong about this - they do name it, but that doesn't help, because they do not name it consistently:

In this ad, they call it 'Worcestershire'

In this one, they call it 'Worcester' (both in speech and actually in writing)
#37
Old 06-03-2017, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by robby View Post
Let me be the first to nitpick here, a short 17 years after the fact.

Worcester is pronounced "wooster."

Worcestershire is is pronounced "wooster-shur."
And I suppose Dorchester is 'dooster'?
#38
Old 06-03-2017, 06:39 PM
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I read A Little Princess as a girl, and it has a number of names like this.
The heroine sees a large family and invents fancy names for them, including, "Cholmondley", which of course I mispronounced in my head. It doesn't sound as fancy when it's "Chumly", anyway. (Note that the boy's actual name is "Donald".)

I was also confused by what "aitches" were. Sara worried that she might start dropping her "aitches" when she becomes poor. I thought they might be dishes, since she helped in the kitchen. (Of course, she meant "h's".)
#39
Old 06-04-2017, 02:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
And I suppose Dorchester is 'dooster'?
Are you suggesting robby is incorrect about how almost everyone pronounces Worcester and Worcestershire?

(allowing for some variation in his "-oo-" to include more of an "-uh-")
#40
Old 06-04-2017, 02:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
To nitpick your nitpick: Not when the subject is the fermented anchovy condiment - Worcestershire sauce is pronounced 'wooster sauce'
I have never heard this, or heard of it. It's "woo-ster-shur sauce," just like the county.
#41
Old 06-04-2017, 02:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
And I suppose Dorchester is 'dooster'?
No, "ch" is so much more distinctive a sound than a sibilant "c" that there's that much less risk of elision. </pedant>

Now, if you were talking about Slaithwaite or Shrewsbury..............
#42
Old 06-04-2017, 03:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
And I suppose Dorchester is 'dooster'?
No, it's pronounced "Casterbridge"

(only kidding - that's Thomas Hardy's fictionalised name for it - although it has become sort of currency for the naming of guest houses, etc in that town)
#43
Old 06-04-2017, 03:56 AM
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Originally Posted by JKellyMap View Post
I have never heard this, or heard of it. It's "woo-ster-shur sauce," just like the county.
Could be a regional thing perhaps. I'm very accustomed to hearing people call it as I described above.
#44
Old 06-04-2017, 04:06 AM
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Ok, so Worcester is pronounced "Wooster", Leicester is "Lester", and Gloucester is "Gloster".

Why, then, are cities like Manchester pronounced phonetically? Shouldn't it be called "Mooster"?
#45
Old 06-04-2017, 04:56 AM
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As Patrick London pointed out, there's one very obvious difference between the first three, and the last one....
#46
Old 06-04-2017, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by JKellyMap View Post
Are you suggesting robby is incorrect about how almost everyone pronounces Worcester and Worcestershire?

(allowing for some variation in his "-oo-" to include more of an "-uh-")
No, it's just an old joke. I lived in MA for a couple of years and can even pronounce Peabody correctly.
#47
Old 06-04-2017, 09:54 AM
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Well, all you non-Wooedhouse fans, how do you pronounce Psmith?
#48
Old 06-04-2017, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
Hugh Laurie was amazingly an exact manifestation of how I had always imagined Bertie when reading the books.

Stephen Fry was okay as Jeeves but not great. First, he looked way too young at the time. Second, he was supposed to be the straight man but he rarely delivered a straight line properly. He always signaled the joke with his facial expressions.
Exactly plus one. In my 30th year of re-re-reading Wodehouse, Hugh Laurie's portrayal is on the money.
#49
Old 06-04-2017, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
I think you'll get a different answer when you ask these two questions:

Q1: How do you pronounce these words: Worcestershire Sauce?

Q2: What's in this bottle?

I don't know if that makes it a nickname, or not. I think the only thing that would definitively settle it would be an ad from the manufacturer saying it one way or the other, but unfortunately, I think they always refer to it by the brand only.
It just sounds like a colloquial shortening to me. I'm sure we must have some example of this in American English, too, but I'm blanking.
#50
Old 06-04-2017, 10:32 AM
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On the bag of Walker's crisps, it's Worcester Sauce, indicating to me that it's a nickname or alternate name for the full Worcestershire Sauce. That is, it's not Worcestershire that is pronounced as Wooster in the sauce name, but rather that it is shortened to Worcester, thus the shortened pronunciation.
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