Apparently, Tarquinia is not the only town to stage a nativity play (see last week’s blog). According to this BBC article, “[a] nativity play with a difference has taken place on a village green” in Horsmonden, Kent: “[t]he production (...), which is held every Christmas, recreated the stable scene with three kings arriving accompanied by a camel”. (Very similar to what we’re going to see here in Tarquinia in the next few days, except that we’ve got three camels coming this year, not just one!)
This article in particular made me think about the pronunciation(s) of place names in English. As you know, names of people and places can sometimes have very unexpected pronunciations. For instance, how do you pronounce Horsmonden? Both LPD3 (p.387) and CEPD (18th edition; p.238) have ˌhɔːzmənˈden for BrE, although the latter also notes
“old-fashioned local pronunciation: ˌhɔː.sən-“.
And what about Derby(shire), which also features in the text? Here BrE and AmE vary somewhat, with GA usually tending to reflect the orthography more closely: thus BrE ˈdɑːbi, GA ˈdɜ˞ːbi. The CEPD (18th edition; p.134) also comments in one of its usage boxes:
“Note: American pronunciation sometimes uses US ˈdɑːr- for British references”.
A frequent question I get from my students is the correct stressing in the name Manchester. Does the stress always fall on the first syllable? Is it right to say Manˈchester, as some Italians pronounce it? All the pronouncing dictionaries I have show this word with initial stress, although in LPD3 (p.486) we also find it with secondary stress on the second syllable: ˈmænˌtʃestə. I suppose one of the reasons some EFL students think Manchester has main stress on the -chest- syllable is because they sometimes hear native speakers pronounce it with a full vowel e – or ɛ if you like – instead of (the perhaps more usual) ɪ or ə. A syllable with a full vowel tends to be clearer and thus may be perceived as strongly stressed by some non-native speakers. Obviously, much also depends on the rhythm of the utterance in which the name is contained.
Those of you interested in this topic might like to know that the new edition of the CEPD now includes a glossary of terms used in phonetics and phonology. Among them, there’s a section (p.570) entitled “names of people and places”. In it, you can find some useful information concerning difficult pronunciations of proper names and towns/cities, including notes on tendencies within BrE and AmE.
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Happy Christmas, everyone!
Even native English speakers interpret "full" vowels as indicating stress when they don't. English people frequently pronounce actor Rhys Ifans's (/ˈivans/) surname with the stress on the final syllable, which I'm convinced is partly because he pronounces the syllable as [a], not as a schwa. Of course, they also pronounce the first consonant as /f/, as if the spelling were English, so they're obviously not paying very close attention at all to how he says it.ReplyDelete
Merry Christmas, AlexReplyDelete
Many thanks, John!ReplyDelete
I live in the village and we say it like this--ReplyDelete
horse-mon-den, with less emphasis on the den.
I have always been baffled by the prescription of /mæntʃɪstə/ in pronunciation dictionaries. The residents of Manchester definitely say /mæntʃestə/ and I'm sure that most people outside the city pronounce it this way as well. It is usually said as /mæntʃestə/ when discussing the two football teams on the BBC, although I'm not sure whether football journalists have the same respect in RP as political journalists do.ReplyDelete
It's possible that things have changed in the 15 years since I lived in England, but I would say that the RP pronunciation is definitely /ˈmæntʃɪstə/.
Do "most people outside the city" pronounce it with an unstressed DRESS vowel? Definitely, if you include Americans. However, If the electorate were restricted to England, I'd put my money on /ɪ ~ ə/. I grew up in Birmingham and, although I don't myself have a Brummie accent, I knew plenty of people who did. I remember being struck for the first time by the DRESS vowel in"Manchester" when I first started to meet people from that city, which was when I left Birmingham to go to university.
@ vp: I'll defer to you on the pronunciation of the name "Manchester" in Birmingham but, most times when I hear the name on the BBC, it is with a DRESS vowel.ReplyDelete
Have a look at this video! The woman's voice sounds RP to me, yet she uses the DRESS vowel at 0:17.
As I've mentioned on John Wells's blog before, I've always struggled with the concept of a received pronunciation for a place-name. Don't the residents of the place know best?
She has a Scottish accent, not RP.
@ vp: You're right actually. Now that I listen again, I notice the lack of a FOOT-GOOSE opposition and the retention of a WINE-WHINE distinction. It's certainly an accent that's been very heavily influenced by RP though.ReplyDelete
Dju tu its cejotic speliŋ, inɡlix pleis neimz r ən esouteric noliж əveiləbl ounli fr ði inixieitid (or fr ðouz laic mi, hu oun ð Loŋmn Prənφnsieixn Dicxnri). Ai ricol ðt it tuc mi ə lot əv taim t faind ðt ð siti wer mai mφðrz ɡranmφðr ceim from, wz [Dφrəm] (morouvr ai risiivd it houli distortid þru mai non inɡlix spiiciŋ famili). Ət liist ðis pleis folouz ə sort əv ireɡiulr ruul, bt ðr r φðr laic , , , , n huuz prənφnsieixn (Lestə, Wustə, Woric, Glamz, Tuuson n Grenik) ju hv t lωrn ðm laic kainiiz aidiəɡramz: bai hart. Inɡlix raitiŋ dəz not fulfil its pωrpəs əv ɡiviŋ aciurət infrmeixn əbaut hau t prənauns ð wωrdz.ReplyDelete
djuː tu ɪts keɪˈɒtɪk ˈspelɪŋ, ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ ˈpleɪs ˈneɪmz ər ən ˌesəʊˈterɪk ˈnɒlɪdʒ əˈveɪləbl̩ ˈəʊnli fə ði ɪˈnɪʃɪeɪtɪd (ɔː fə ðəʊz ˈlaɪk miː, huː əʊn ðə ˈlɒŋmən prəˌnʌnsɪˈeɪʃn̩ ˈdɪkʃənri). ˈaɪ rɪˈkɔːl ðət ɪt tʊk miː ə lɒt əv ˈtaɪm tə faɪnd ðət ðə ˈsɪti weə maɪ ˈmʌðəz ˈɡræn ˌmʌðə keɪm frɒm, wəz [ˈdʌrəm] (mɔːˈrəʊvə ˈaɪ rɪˈsiːvd ɪt ˈhəʊli dɪˈstɔːtɪd θruː maɪ nɒn ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ ˈspiːkɪŋ ˈfæmɪli). ət liːst ðɪs ˈpleɪs ˈfɒləʊz ə sɔːt əv ɪˈreɡjʊlə ruːl, bət ðər ər ˈʌðə ˈlaɪk , , , , and huːz prəˌnʌnsɪˈeɪʃn̩ (ˈlestə, ˈwʊstə, ˈwɒrɪk, ˈglæmz, ˈtuːˌsɒn ənd ˈɡrenɪtʃ) ju həv tə lɜːn ðəm ˈlaɪk tʃaɪˈniːz ˈaɪdɪəɡræmz: baɪ hɑːt. ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ ˈraɪtɪŋ dəz nɒt fʊlˈfɪl ɪts ˈpɜːpəs əv ˈɡɪvɪŋ ˈækjʊrɪt ˌɪnfəˈmeɪʃn̩ əˈbaʊt ˈhaʊ tə prəˈnaʊns ðə ˈwɜːdz.ReplyDelete
Well, in English, there are many instances of unstressed but full vowels. Merriam-Webster is good at listing this sort.ReplyDelete
This usually happens when the unstressed syllable is closed. I can recall the following words.
pos-TER-i-ty > po-STER-i-ty
No need to be baffled, it's just typical of the obsolescent/obsolete RP pronunciation given in dictionaries. Here you can hear HMQ saying [ˈmæntʃɪstə] at 00:25. The displacement of [ɪ] by [ɛ] is almost certainly a spelling pronunciation.
@ Geoff Lindsey: I think that the people of the city have always pronounced it with [ɛ]. Old and young Mancunians pronounce the city in the same way, as far as I can tell.ReplyDelete
I'm pleased to see one reference for [ɪ] though. The Queen counts for something :)
Just had a quick listen to some Mancunians in the IDEA dialect archive (the subjects say where they're from after reading a passage). A male born 1967 has [ɪ] or [ə] (or no vowel) in the middle syllable, as does a "female, twenties", but another female born 1983 has [ɛ]. In this clip celeb scientist Brian Cox varies between a reduced syllable and [ɛ]. I suspect [ɛ] is more recent, a spelling pronunciation.ReplyDelete