On names, changing them, and pronunciation

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 5 15:00:03 EST 2003

--- Philip.Belben at eme.co.uk wrote:
> > 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...
> Philip.
A quick check on the net reveals that the term Black
Maria was also used for police vehicles in the US at
once stage (with the same rye pronounciation as the
english), it was certainly the pronounciation that
came to my mind when I saw the title (and has stayed
there ever since). I always grew up calling them
(police waggons) Paddy waggons (and still do) as in
NSW at least they are blue, but was very familiar with
the UK use from brit crime shows on TV (still have
fond memories of Z cars although there for some reason
they called police cars pandas iirc). I did know that
name for the card game but only in an obscure way - I
always called in Black Lady or sometimes Hearts, and
just assumed that had the same pronounciation - does


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