On names, changing them, and pronunciation

Philip.Belben at eme.co.uk Philip.Belben at eme.co.uk
Wed Mar 5 13:00:38 EST 2003

> And that in turn links back nicely to a pronunciation/name changing obDWJ.
> How do people in the States pronounce the name of the eponymous villain in
> 'Aunt Maria'? When it was published as 'Black Maria' in the UK the name
> punned on the nickname for the old black police vans known as Black Marias
> (pronounced so as to rhyme with 'liars'). Following that cue I always
> pronounced Maria in the same way - which I think of as the more
> old-fashioned way, as is appropriate for the character. But I don't know how
> well-known the term Black Maria is in the States, and in any case for PC
> reasons it was published there (and maybe elsewhere too?) under a different
> name. So perhaps there it's pronounced to rhyme with 'Dutiful Farseer'?

Wow!  This has been quite a thread.

"Black Maria", as the title of a book by Charles Addams, I pronounce -RYE-,
because it has a picture of a paddy wagon, sorry, police van on the cover.  (BTW
Addams was an American, so I assumed that this was an American term)

"Black Maria", as the title of a book by DWJ, I pronounce -REE-, because that is
how I pronounce the woman's name anyway.

FWIW, Mig actually tells us that they call Aunt Maria "Black Maria" after the
card game.

Kyla - are you _sure_ that DWJ's "Black Maria" tells us how to pronounce it?
I've never spotted this, and I was looking for a clue the first time I read the
book.  (After that, I knew it was the woman's name, so I pronounced accordingly)

Phenomena related to the post-vocalic R are not uncommon in British accents -
adding one where it's not required, dropping it where it's not essential, and
other peculiarities.  I particularly dislike the spurious R between vowels, and
I have tried to train myself not to say it (have you ever heard a poorly-trained
British choir sing "Hosanna in excelsis"?) but I now find myself dropping Rs
where they ought to remain, as in "fouR and twenty".  And I, too, was born in
Bristol (the place name comes from Bridge + Stowe + post-vocalic L)

Just my half-groat's worth...


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