Saturday, 17 July 2010

I name this child... erm...

I had to laugh the other day while listening to 'Sally Traffic' on BBC Radio 2 drive time programme that was hosted by Dale Winton some time last week on the way home from work.

She said that there'd been an accident on the A165 at a place she said she couldn't pronounce - Skirlaugh. Skirlaugh is a small village in East Yorkshire and the name is pronounced by locals as 'Skir - la.'

We don't make it easy for people do we? There is a street in Hull named Belvoir Street. Now anyone with a modicum of French at school would pronounce it something like 'Bell-v-waar'. No - locals here call it 'Beaver', like the animal.

Now this is apart from anything like trying to pronounce people's surnames. As we travel along the road to more diverse communities and ethnic origins come from around the globe, it is getting more difficult. You only had to listen to the commentators in the World Cup to see how occasionally they struggled, and that's with practice and a pronunciation unit to back them up.

Now this, of course is nothing new. Take the BBC classic comedy series, Dad's Army. The man in charge (allegedly) was Captain Mannering. Except his name was actually Main-Waring, hyphenated, yet it's pronounced 'Mannering'. How does that work?

The funniest (sorry Vincent) is the argument about poor Van Gogh and how to say his surname properly. Phonetically you can hear Van Goff, Van Go or Van Gock. In fact according to the Dutch (it is after all their language), his name is pronounced like its ending with a Scottish Loch, Van Gokh.

Don't worry if you're none the wiser, we can't even agree how to say Tutankhamun, is it Toot-an-car-mun or Tootan-car-mooon? Who cares, he
won't mind, he's been dead 3,342 years!

The last one that comes to mind for now was highlighted in the film, Night at the Museum (1 & 2) with the famous native American Indian tracker, Sacajawea, and the characters certainly had fun with that one.

Lets stick to the name theme for today's story.

A young native American Indian boy was speaking to his father and asked why their tribe always had such descriptive and illustrative names.

"Well," said his father, "When your brother was born, I walked out of the tent after the birth and saw an Eagle soaring high above, so I called him Soaring Eagle."

"When your sister was born, I walked out of the tent after the birth and saw a deer running across the prairie, so I called her 'Running Deer.' Why do you ask, Two Dogs Screwing?"

Chat soon



  1. There is a Belvoir pronounced beaver where I live too x

  2. Hi Auntiegwen, I've tried to find out why - dead end :(

  3. years ago when hubby started bus driving in Barnsley ( he's from worksop) people kept asking to go to 'bart green' , he looked on his list and said sorry we don't go that way, but they kept insisiting that he did, anyway they wanted 'baraugh green' !
    Josie x

  4. It extends to names too.

    I have an unusual first name for a Yorkshireman. André. I get called Ondray, Andray, Onjay, and sometimes, Tonj. And err...Thingy.

    I prefer to be called Dray, so much easier for everyone - as in rather large flat-bed cart carrying beer-barrels behind a massive horse. Apt :)

    Nowadays, if someone pronounces André correctly, I think, uh ho. What have I done? :)

  5. Hi Josie,
    excellent example of total confusion, how on earth do they get to 'Bart' from 'Baraugh' (which I'm guessing is pronounced 'barra!') Thanks for the great example

    Hi Wheelie,
    I know where you're coming from. I am only called my full first name if I am in trouble with my wife. Now here's the thing: do we become honest and say 'please spell that for me' or do we just take a best guess? I'd rather people get it right, saves confusion later. Thanks for the example - good one.

  6. D'know Spotted, since I have fairly common surname, (and it's not Smith, which is a relief - no offence meant to anyone called Smith) the combination of the vaguely exotic and the common usually gets the head-cocked-to-one-side, "How did you end up with that" expression. Answer - I've no idea, I was too young to protest :)

    It's a great conversation starter. They never forget you! Take a best guess? Hmm. I rarely get out of Yorkshire, and they will always mangle it.

    Ooh, gotta go - Victorian Pharmacy is on - well into that :)