Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Of "icks" and "burras"

My mom is the queen of mispronunciation. Losenges become “Louse-enges”, Statistics become “Stastisticks”, and Worcestershire sauce is “War-chesester” (or something similar).  I think sometimes she just doesn’t care (which is ok), but I know I even had trouble with pronunciation when I moved to England.
Here are some examples that may help to alleviate some of your angst upon landing in the UK.
Worcester is pronounced “Wooster”, Leicester is pronounced “Lester,” and Gloucester is pronounced “Gloster”. I guess our English ancestors even had trouble with pronunciation and finally just gave up! 
Things that end in “wick” are normally pronounced with a silent “w”.  So Keswick becomes “Kesick” and Chiswick becomes “Chisick”.  Berwick Upon Tweed is now “Berick Upon Tweed”.  Warwick is “Warrick”.  You get the picture.
If a place name ends in “burgh” or “borough” it's usually translated to “burra”.  Edinburgh becomes “Edinburra”.  Knaresborough is “Knaresburra”.
What about “wich” as in Greenwich?  Again, the “w” is silent, but the double e is shortened and you now have “Grenich”.  Just as Norwich is “Norich”.
I lived in a town called “Harrogate” which is really pronounced “Harrigut”. And I had trouble forever with Glasgow which is really pronounced “Glazgo”.
If there’s a town ending in “ham” you’d typically drop the “h”.  So Birmingham becomes “Birmingam” and Nottingham is “Nottingam”.
There are some crazy one-offs as well like Belvoir (pronounced “Beaver”) and Mousehole, Cornwall which is pronounced (Mowzel).  Oh, and by the way, Cornwall is pronounced more like “Cornwll” (the a is barely if ever heard).
Do not even get me started on Welsh place names!  I would have to be hauled away in a paddy wagon!
I was thinking of ending this piece with a limerick (even though we aren’t discussing Ireland at the moment).  Just take care to practice your “icks” and “burras” and you should do just fine! 
There once was a girl from Nantucket
Who pulled the UK from her bucket (list)
But when visiting a town
She made a terrible frown
And when trying pronounce just said… dang it!

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