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English as she is spoke and writ

Last night our girls were listing the schools they attended as part of their local knowledge project.  One of the schools has a name pronounced 'Beaverdale' and the girls were telling each other how it should be written.  Only if you live in Leicestershire would you know that the word pronounced 'beaver' is actually spelled 'Belvoir'.  But then only if you live in Northamptonshire would know that 'Nene' (the local river) is pronounced 'Nen' (as in 'men') or the village spelled Cogenhoe as 'Cookno.'  And only if you live in Scotland or have a mother who grew up in Glasgow do you stand a chance with Milngavie (~Mulguy) or Strathaven (Straven).  What chance does anyone have?

Anyone want to add any oddities?!


  • Okeford Fitzpaine is apparently "Fippeny Ockford" to the locals.

  • Wymondham [Windum] Happisburgh [Hazeboro] Stiffkey [Stookey] and Costessey [Cossee] in Norfolk come to mind immediately.

    When we lived in SE London, there was a road, built at the time of the Indian Raj, "Benares Road". I referred to it as "Ben- Arr- Eese" and was told off by the locals - who insisted they called it Ben Airs!

  • Blackfordby (Bluffaby) - spiritual home of Mark Goodacre, if you check his Christmas day blog on Resident Alien.

    Whitwick (Wittick) - fairly typical

    Kilwardby Street - (Kilwardby Street) defies the logic of the previous example and used to trip up newcomers like me.

    Shibboleth - depends where you come from. How would they say that in Dibley?

  • Or Kirkby. In the north west it is pronounced 'Kirby' and in the the midlands as 'Kirkby'

    Or Bury. 'Berry' as in Bury St Edmunds or 'Bu-ree' as in Greater Manchester.

    And Heysham of course, but Andy and I know how to so that one!

  • Not forgetting Loughborough of course...

  • The more of these I read, the more I'm reminded of Hebrew and (of course) postmodernism.

    In the case of English place names you have to know how the name is pronounced before you can read it properly.

    In the case of Hebrew, it seemed as if you had to know what the text meant before you could translate it accurately.

    So is Heysham a picnic to which the signposts provide a spelling and the inhabitants provide a pronunciation?

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