A Conversation for Gloucester, Gloucestershire, UK

pronunciation of British place names

Post 1

Martin

The introduction of this page reminds me of something that I REALLY wish someone would write about: the proper pronunciation of British place and family names. Maybe Brits take all of this for granted, but as a Canadian (ie., as someone who uses mostly American spellings, but finds a "zed" rather than a "zee" at the end of the alphabet), I've always had a particular interest in sorting out how the locals would pronounce "Gloucester", "Worcester", "Marlborough" or "Buckinghamshire". I've wished for an authoritative guide to this issue ever since I heard Stephen Fry on TV explaining that "Fotheringay" is really pronounced "fungee" (with a hard "g"). Or maybe he was pulling my leg.

Anyway, has this been attempted yet?


pronunciation of British place names

Post 2

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

I'll have a go, although I can't promise anything, as I live in Portsmouth, mysteriously pronounced Pompey by the locals, of which I am but one example.
Gloucester, as previously discussed is gloss-ter ; if you are from the west country, you would probably add a few extra 'r's on the end.
Worcester, promounced woos-terr (woo as in woof). Famouse mainly for it's sauce.
Marlborough is pronounced in various ways, of which the most consistent appears to be maul (as in Paul) burrah (bu as in bus)
and Buckinghamshire (shortened on addresses to Bucks) starts with Buck, as in what the americans call their strangely all-the-same-colour-and-size currency, ing as in Ding, ham as in cured pig, and shire with stress on the i, pronounced eye, sort of buck-ing-ham-sh-eye-are. Some might pronounce it buck-ing-ham-she-are.

Wonderful thing the English language. What do you expect from the language that brought you such classic words as Quay and Knot.


pronunciation of British place names

Post 3

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

...and by the way, what the ??? is a fotheringay?
Are they dangerous?
Being english, I expect foreign folk expect us to have them lying about all over the place. Luckily, we can get rid of them by selling them to tourists.....


pronunciation of British place names

Post 4

GVM

I live in a place called Portglenone. Its in northern ireland. It is not on the coast as it is or was a river port on the river Bann. I can pronounce it but I cant explain. good luck


pronunciation of British place names

Post 5

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

Do tell, my guess would be Port-glenn-ow-en, but I might be getting mixed up with welsh (or something even stranger) there.


pronunciation of British place names

Post 6

Martin

Many thanks to all of you for your help, thought I know there are plenty more that baffle me completely. And I haven't even begun with Welsh names. I really think this might make a good Guide Entry, one of those that lots of people contribute to. (Now who would I suggest this to?)

I know "Fotheringay" mostly as the title to an old Sandy Denny album. Though I think it may have started as an old English family name, or perhaps the name of some grand estate somewhere. When I saw Stephen Fry talking about this, he was introducing a TV broadcast of an episode of the "Jeeves and Wooster" series (of which I am very fond), and I believe he was discussing old aristocratic family names. And now that I think of it, a character in the Jeeves stories is named Fotheringay-Phipps, nick-name "Barmy". All together then, pronounced with great relish, "Barmy Fungee-Fipps".


pronunciation of British place names

Post 7

GVM

The best i can do it is "Port-glen-own". as in i own this hat. Of couse it is better said with a Ballymena acent. However i am an engineer so not good at spelling and english.


pronunciation of British place names

Post 8

Crescent

The English names are more or less managable, some Scottish ones are tough Kirkcaldy and Acharackle are two that most furiners find difficulty with smiley - smiley Until later.....
BCNU - Crescent


pronunciation of British place names

Post 9

Martin

Well? How DO you pronounce Kirkcaldy and Acharackle? I'm guessing the first one goes something like "kurr-kaw-dee", but the second baffles me completely.


pronunciation of British place names

Post 10

Is mise Duncan

What about Irish names...Dun Loaghaire is pronounced "dun leery".
There seem to be a few rules to Irish place names, but are there actually any rules to English place names or are they on a case by case basis?


pronunciation of British place names

Post 11

Martin

Well, with Irish names, you're venturing into another language altogether. Something like Dun Loaghaire would be the (supposedly) Anglicized version of the name in its original Irish (or Irish Gaelic). And so far, the proper pronunciation of Irish escapes me completely. This is something of an embarrassment, as several of my friends speak fluent Irish, and assure me that there is a clear logic to the proper pronunciation of printed Irish words. Anyone know of a good Irish primer?

But regarding English, I've always assumed that much pronunciation, especially of place or family names, must be determined on a case by case basis, as you suggest. As with "Fotheringay", detailed above.


pronunciation of British place names

Post 12

Steve Gardiner

For place- and surnames, try https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_names_in_English_with_counterintuitive_pronunciations
It's a quite comprehensive list of the peculiarities of English pronunciations.


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