Place names

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at ic.ac.uk
Tue Feb 6 11:42:18 EST 2001


>On Mon, 29 Jan 2001, Laurel Lamme wrote:
>
>> You give life savor,
>> Bring out each flavor,
>> So one thing's clear, dear,
>> You're my Worcestershire, dear!
>>
>> So does Worcestershire really come out rhyming with clear?  And how
>> many syllables does it have?
>
>Three syllables: Woos ter sheer.

Not "sheer"! Surely no one says that? I have only ever heard "shire" (as
written) or a sound approximating to "shuh".
Incidentally, I had always thought it was Worcester sauce, but a quick check
in the kitchen cupboard has proved me wrong after all these years.
Rosie

I say something close to "sh'r", [1] I think most British people would do
something like sh-schwa (Rosie's "shuh", I think) or sh-vowel-r, where the
vowel is short and could be schwa, i, (like "in", not like "I", or ee- a
very short ee that's not far from i. I've never heard anyone over here
saying "shire", as written, [2] unless they were talking about Shire Horses
or something, or saying "sheer" pronounced like "sheer stockings", it isn't
given that much weight when used at the end of a county name. [3] But
certainly that's how it needs to be pronounced to fit into the song, and
everyone would understand it just fine.
I think everyone calls it Worcester sauce, anyway. 

We will now, having made confusion worse confounded, return you to your
normal programming. Does anybody know if dwj is thinking about writing any
more "children's" stuff? (I don't know what DLoD and YotG count as, maybe
YA, but she doesn't seem to have written anything like, say,  the
Chrestomanci books for a while.) 

Jenny
[1] The ' isn't a glottal stop, just a way to separate syllables that
doesn't imply a pause like - would.
[2] Anyway, not where I've lived. A fun way to spot Americans who'd lived
around Nottingham for a long time was how they stopped saying
"Nodd-ing-ham-shire" and started muttering "No*'ng'm'sh'r" like the locals.
(* is a glottal stop, this time.)
[3] I'm trying to think what I'd do over a bad phone line- it would come out
as "shuh", I think. "YORKSHIRE! I SAID, YORK-SHschwa!"
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