Re Place Names

Ven ven at
Mon Feb 12 13:52:48 EST 2001

Jennifer wrote

> 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. 

Uh, until this discussion started I'd never realised anyone 
pronounced it as anything but "sheer"................ But then my 
roots are in Hampshire and Wiltshire. There's not usually much 
emphasis on the sheer, its close to a schwa, but the long e is 
definitely there in those counties and hence, I guess, I put it in all 
of them (shires that is). That's the trouble with discussing English 
pronunciation, as in how things are pronounced in England, locality 
-- and class -- can make such a difference. Btw they're called 
Shires, pronounced as in fires, collectively especially by huntin' 
shootin' and fishin' types. 

I was well amused by your comments on Nodding-ham-shire, 
Jennifer. it reminds me that my Dad, Graham, was called
Grey-ham for years by an Indian friend of his (thats subcontinent, 
not American). 

I like Sally's pronunciation -- Wiss ter sher, of course. 


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