Pronunciation

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Mon Jan 17 13:13:01 EST 2000



Hi!

My boss caught me reading the list today.  Ouch.

Still, I've been trying to follow the pronunciation-of-real-first-names thread
that seems to have appeared over the weekend, and I have one or two things to
say.

* Myfanwy and Menolly.

Why bring these two together?  Well, we've had proposed

Muh-VAHN-wee, Mvonwee (I think someone spelt/spelled it) and me-NAHL-ee

The first thing that I see is that -von- and -vahn- probably sound (almost)
identical to most Americans (any Americans who disagree please say so).  To my
(British) ear, the main characteristic of what I consider an American accent is
the pronunciation of the short O as AH.  This is not the only characteristic -
some "upper class" British accents have a similar sound change, but to me a
"standard" British pronunciation makes a big difference.

When I saw "me-NAHL-ee" as a pronunciation for Menolly, my first reaction was
Ugh.  But in fact this is how I would pronounce it if I had an American accent,
if you see what I mean.

(Britta may be able to comment further:  By contrast, some East German accents
go the other way, and pronounce the short A - nearer to English AH than to an
English A - as O.  Some of the tapes for our German course have a character from
Weimar who says Stodt for Stadt, etc.)

FWIW I see (hear?) the main characteristic of southern-hemisphere accents as
what I think would technically be called "raising of the front vowels" - the
short A becomes a short E, short E becomes short I.  Australians tend to leave
it at that; South Africans tend to move all the vowels towards EE; New
Zealanders have one other characteristic sound change that (I'm ashamed to say)
really bugs me: the short I becomes O-umlaut.  I don't know why it should bug me
so, but it is for me one of those things that is fine until you notice it, and
then you can't un-notice it ever again!

* Piemur

I don't think I've been very consistent.  PYEH-muhr is probably my most usual
pronunciation, although I thought of changing it to PIE-muhr when I first found
out about his love for berry pies...

* Walk ends in -ork (Dogsbody)

Someone said that Americans don't put the r into Walk.  Nor do we!  We British
drop our Rs in words like Fork and Cork, so they are all pronounced -awk in
British.  ORK is the most natural way for a Brit to write that sound, even
though we (well, some of us) know words like Auk.

* Megan etc.

I have heard both Meggan and Meegan for this; I think Meggan is more
authentically Welsh.  I have no idea about Tegan, although I would tend towards
Teegan; I would also tend towards Reegan for Regan, although I think I correctly
guessed that it ought to be pronounced Raygan, or do I mean Reagan?

* Raederle

Loved the McKillip anecdote, whoever posted it!  I can see that Britta might
just see a straight German spelling there, but I will admit to saying REH-dairl

But the name with which I have most difficulty is probably Ralph.  DWJ takes
some effort in making sure readers of Lives pronounce this as Rafe, which I
_know_ is authentic, but _cannot_ bring myself to say...

*******************

For those who read British books with an American (or anywhere else) accent
sounding inside their heads, I read American books with a British accent, so I
think we're quits there!

Philip.


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