Odd pronunciations of proper names - examples

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The Type column contains abbreviations: PN means that the word in the first column is a Place-name; SN means that it is a surname; and FN that it is a forename or first name. T indicates that the word is a PN used, sometimes, as a title, as in Prince of Wales. Sc shows that the name is Scottish; W that it is Welsh; and Ir that it is Irish. These Celtic languages have their own spelling systems. No effort is made to show how they are pronounced.


Written form Type Pronunciation(s) - re-spelt Pronunciation(s) - IPA Notes
Auchinleck Sc PN och-in-leck IPA: /ˈɒχ ɪn lɛk/ A village - from which comes a personal title pron. as next.
Affleck Sc T affLECK IPA: /af ˈlɛk/ See previous
Beaufort SN b-OH-fort IPA: /ˈbəʊ fət/
Beauchamp SN bee-cham IPA: /biːtʃ əm/ Some Bs - e.g. conductor Sir Thomas - write 'Beecham'
Beaulieu PN BEW-ley IPA: /ˈbjuː lɪ/ in Hampshire

(The same initial syllable as 'beautiful'.)

Belvoir PN beaver IPA: /ˈbiː vər/ .
Bicester PN 'bister' IPA: /ˈbɪstər/) Bister [b-eye-sister] IPA: /ˈbaɪ si stər/ has also been heard.
Blenheim PN BLEN-em [blen-EEM] IPA: /ˈblɛn əm/ [IPA: /blə ˈniːm/] The 2nd pronunciation is for a street in Hull.
Cirencester PN s-EYE-ren-ses-ter [sister] IPA: /ˈsaɪ rən ˌsɛ stər/ [IPA: /ˈsɪstər/] The traditional 'sister' is little heard these days.
Cheyne PN CHAIN-y [chain, cheen] IPA: /ˈtʃeɪ nɪ/ [/tʃeɪn/, /tʃiːn/] Cheyne Walk in London, home of famous writers Thomas Carlyle, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and George Eliot.
Colquhoun Sc SN ca-HOON IPA: /kə ˈhuːn/ An English pronunciation is 'col-kwe-HOON'. Scots call this an error. In defence, some spell it Cahoun.
Culzean Sc PN cull-AIN IPA: /kəl ˈeɪn/ Castle in Ayrshire.
Dalziel Sc SN dee-ELL [dalZEAL] IPA: /diː ˈɛl/, IPA: /dælˈziːl/ 2 branches of the family; 2 pronunciations. (The '-z-' is a form of yogh.)
Daventry PN DA-ven-tree [DAIN-tree] IPA: /ˈdæv əntr ɪ/ [IPA: /ˈdeɪntr ɪ/] 2nd pron. [in brackets] is traditional but obsolescent.
Donne SN dun (as in done) IPA: /dʌn/ Famous English poet John (1572–1631)
Featherstonhaugh SN FANshaw IPA: /ˈfæɔn ʃɔː/ LPD records 4 other pronunciations
Gloucester PN, T gloster IPA: /ˈglɒ stər/ .
Grosvenor SN; PN GROW-v'ner IPA: /ˈgrəʊv nər or ˈgrəʊv ər / Family name of Dukes of Westminster, who built the G. estates in London, Cheshire and Scotland
Hawick Sc PN hoik IPA: /hɔɪk/, IPA: /hɔːɪk/ .
Haworth PN HAW-e(r)th IPA: /ˈha or ɑʊ ərθ/ (IPA: /ˈheɪ əθ/) Home of the Brontës. 2nd is a public house (pub) in Hull.
Kirkcudbright Sc PN kirk-COO-bry IPA: /kər ˈkuː brɪ/ Town in SW Scotland.
Kirkcaldy Sc PN Kirk-CAWD-ie IPA: /kər ˈkɒd ɪ/ Town in Fife (E Scotland)
Leicester PN, T lester IPA: /ˈlɛ stər/ .
Leominster PN LEM-[']-ster IPA: /ˈlɛm ə stər/ The UK pronunciation; the place in Massachusetts is LEM-in-ster, /ˈlɛm ɪn stə/.
M(a)cLean Sc SN macLANE IPA: /mə ˈkleɪn/ Some, (e.g. toothpaste company) pronounce it 'clean' (IPA: /-ˈkliːn/).
M(a)cKay Sc SN mac-EYE IPA: /mə ˈkaɪ/ Many rhyme it with 'say'
M(a)cKenzie Sc SN mac-KENZ-y IPA: /mə ˈkɛnz ɪ/ The traditional (and obsolete) pronunciation was 'mac-KING-y IPA: /mə ˈkɪŋ ɪ/. See yogh.
M(a)cLeod Sc SN mac-CLOUD IPA: /mə ˈlaʊd/ Many changed the spelling to match:, 'MacCloud'
MacDonnell (1) Sc SN mac-der-NELL IPA: /ˌmæk dən ˈɛl/ Note: though Irish and Scots are both Gaels, they pronounce the same name differently
M(a)cDonnell (2) Ir SN mac-DON-el mək ˈdɒn əl See previous
M(a)cPherson Sc SN mac-FER-son IPA: /mək ˈfərs ən/ Not, please, 'mac FEAR-son' IPA: /mək ˈfiːr sən/.
M(a)cLachlan Sc SN mac-LOCH-len IPA: /mək ˈlɒχ lən/ M(a)cLoughlin is an Irish equivalent.
Marjoribanks SN MARSHbanks IPA: /ˈmɑːtʃ bæŋks/ (LPD, less commonly /ˈmɑːʃ bæŋks/ .
Marlborough PN, T MAWL-b'ruh [MAL-b'ruh] IPA: /mɔːl bər ə/ or {{IPA|ˈmɑl bər ə The second is local, in e.g. street name in Hull.
Menzies Sc SN MING-is IPA: /ˈmɪŋ ɪz/ Usually pronounced 'MEN-ziz' (IPA: /ˈmɛn zɪz/ in England.
Milngavie Sc PN mill-GUY (locally mull-GUY) IPA: /mɪl ˈgaɪ/ or IPA: /mʌl ˈgaɪ/ A well-known trap for visitors to W Scotland.
Onions SN uhn-EYE-ens (UHN-yens) IPA: /əʊn ˈaɪ ənz/

(IPA: /ˈʌn jənz/)
Some of this name don't sound like the vegetable, being Irish O'Nions.
Some do, including lexicographer C.T.: his family was Welsh Einion.
Pepys SN peeps (or pips or pepiss) IPA: /piːps/ (IPA: /pɪps/ or IPA: /ˈpɛp is/) Samuel (1633-1703), diarist, was PEEPS, others use various.
Pontefract PN PONtyfra(c)t [pom-fret] IPA: /ˈpɒnt ɪ ˌfrækt/ [IPA: /ˈpɒm frət/] Traditional pron. [in brackets] now obsolete
Ralph FN rafe IPA: /reɪf/ IPA: /rælf/ Traditionally pron. with no 'l', and the vowel of 'say'. Often now has an '-l-' and the vowel of 'cat'.
Ruthven Sc SN, PN RIVen IPA: /ˈrɪ vən/ Place in Aberdeenshire, + family.
" " (2) Sc PN RUTH-ven IPA: /ˈrʌθ vən/ Place in Grampian; Loch.
Salisbury PN, T SAULs-b'ry IPA: /ˈsɔːlz bərɪ/
Shrewsbury PN, T shROHz-b'ri [shrOOzberri] IPA: /ʃrˈəʊz bərɪ/ [IPA: /ʃrˈuːz bərɪ/] The 1st is more RP; 2nd is how many locals say it
Southwell PN SUTH-ell
SOUTH-well
IPA: /ˈsʌð əl/
IPA: /ˈsaʊθ wɛl/
The 1st is more RP, and the BBC's preference;
2nd is how many locals say it
St Clair SN SIN-clare IPA: /ˈsɪŋ kleɪər/ The Scots spelling is Sinclair
St John SN SIN-jen IPA: /ˈsɪn dʒən/ - surname Place and Saint are both normal - IPA: /seɪnt ˈdʒɒn/
Strachan Sc SN straw-n [stra-can] IPA: /strɔːn/, IPA: /ˈstræ kən/ Traditional Scots say it as monosyllable; some in England have two.
Urquhart Sc SN ERK urt IPA: /ˈɜrk ɜrt/
Villiers SN VILL-erz IPA: /ˈvɪl ərz/ Traditional RP realization; now less heard than
the trisyllabic spelling pronunciation 'VILL-i-erz', /ˈvɪl ɪ ərz/
Wodehouse SN wood-house IPA: /ˈwuːd haʊs/} Famous writer P.G. (1881–1975)
Worcester PN, T wooster IPA: /wʊ stər/ .
Yeats Ir SN yates IPA: /jeɪts/ Famous Irish poet W.B. (1865–1939) & brother Jack (1871–1957)
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