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
Anstruther PN
ˈeɪnst ər
ˈænst rʌð ər
Town in Fife, Scotland
Auchinleck Sc PN OCH-in-leck Scots trad: IPA: /æf ˈlɛk/
usually /ˈɒχ (or ɔːk) ɪn lɛk/
A village - from which comes a surname. Sir Claude Auchinleck (1884-1981), Field Marshall, was nicknamed 'The Auk'.
Affleck Sc T affLECK IPA: /æ ˈflɛk/ See previous. Alexander Boswell, Lord A (title of Scots judge) (1707-1782), father of James Boswell, spelled his name as above, pronounced it as here
Beaufort SN BOH-fort IPA: /ˈbəʊ fert/ There is a a place in S. Carolina (*USA)
pron /ˈbjuː fert/.
Beauchamp SN BEE-cham ˈbiːtʃ 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 BEE-ver IPA: /ˈbiːv ər/ .
Bicester PN 'bister' IPA: /ˈbɪst ər/) Bister [b-eye-sister] IPA: /ˈbaɪst ər/ has also been heard.
Blenheim PN BLEN-em [blen-EEM] IPA: /ˈblɛn ə (or ɪ)m/ [IPA: /blɛn ˈiːm/] The 2nd pronunciation is for a street in Hull.
Cadogan SN, used as PN (London) k'-DUG-an IPA: /kə ˈdʌg ən /
Caius PN; SN keys IPA: /kiːz/ As the familiar name of 'Gonville & Caius' College, Cambridge; family name.
Roman praenomen Caius (or Gaius) realized in English as 'KYE-us' /kaɪ əs/ or 'CAY-us', /keɪ əs/.
Cheyne PN CHAIN-y [chain, cheen] IPA: /ˈtʃeɪn ɪ/ [/ˈtʃeɪn/, /ˈtʃiːn] Cheyne Walk in London, home of famous writers Thomas Carlyle, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and George Eliot.
Cholmondely SN chumly IPA: /ˈtʃʌm lɪ/
Cirencester PN s-EYE-ren-ses-ter [sister] [IPA: /ˈsaɪr ən sɛs tər/] The traditional 'sister' is little heard these days.
Cliveden PN CLIV-den ˈklɪv dən Scene of the Profumo scandal of 1963
Cockburn SN (Sc) COE-burn ˈkəʊ bɜːrn Don't confuse with
Colborne, /ˈkəʊl bɜːrn/
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: /kə ˈleɪn/ Castle in Ayrshire.
Dalziel Sc SN dee-ELL [dalZEAL] IPA: /di ˈɛl/, IPA: /ˈdæl ziːəl/ 2 branches of the family; 2 pronunciations. (The '-z-' is a form of yogh.)
Daventry PN DA-ven-tree [DAIN-tree] IPA: /ˈdæv ən trɪ/ [IPA: /ˈdeɪn trɪ/] 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: /ˈfæn ʃɔː/ LPD records 3 other pronunciations:
/ˈfɛð ərst ən hɔː/; /ˈfɛst ən hɔː; /ˈfiːst ən heɪ/.
Frome PN froom IPA: /fruːm/ Town in Somerset
surname more commonly written
Froom or Froome
Glamis PN, T glahmz IPA: /glɑːmz/ One of the titles of Macbeth;
birthplace of Elizabeth II's mother
Gloucester PN, T gloster IPA: /ˈglɒst ər/ .
Grosvenor SN; PN GROW-v'ner IPA: /ˈgrəʊv ən ər / Family name of Dukes of Westminster, who built the G. estates in London, Cheshire and Scotland
Name from le gros veneur, 'fat huntsman': Hugh Lupus, huntsman to William the Conqueror
Happisburgh PN HAZE-b'ruh IPA: /ˈheɪz bərʌ/ Village in Norfolk
Hawick Sc PN hoik IPA: /hɔː ɪk/, IPA: /hɔɪk/ .
Haworth PN HA-e(r)th IPA: /ˈhɑː əθ/ (IPA: /ˈheɪ wərθ/) Home of the Brontës. 2nd is a public house (pub) in Hull.
Heathcote SN HETH-c't IPA: /ˈhɛθ kət/
Holyhead PN HOLL-I-hed IPA: /'hɒ lɪ ,hɛd/ A town and port in northwest Wales. Although the adjective ‘holy’ is pronounced with a long ‘o’ (IPA: /'həʊ lɪ/), when the word forms the first part of a place name, the ‘o’ is short, as in ‘Holywood’ (a town in Northern Ireland), Holywell (a street in Oxford), and Holyrood (an area of Edinburgh).
Kirkcaldy Sc PN Kirk-CAWD-ie IPA: /kɜr ˈkɒd ɪ/ Town in Fife (E Scotland)
Kirkcudbright Sc PN kirk-COO-bry IPA: /kɜr ˈkuːbr ɪ/ Town in SW Scotland.
Lechlade PN LETCH-laid IPA: /'lɛtʃ leɪd/ Town in Gloucestershire
Leicester PN, T lester IPA: /ˈlɛst ər/ .
Leominster PN LEM-[']-ster IPA: /ˈlɛm stər/ The UK pronunciation; the place in Massachusetts is LEM-in-ster, /ˈlɛm ɪn stər/.
M(c)Donald Sc SN mac-DON-ald IPA: /mək ˈdɒn əld/ May be confused with next
MacDonnell (1) Sc SN mac-der-NELL IPA: /mək 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 əll See previous
M(a)cLean Sc SN macLANE IPA: /mə ˈkleɪn/ Some, (e.g. toothpaste company) pronounce it 'clean' (IPA: /mə ˈkliːn/).
M(a)cKay Sc SN mac-EYE IPA: /mə ˈkaɪ/ Many rhyme it with 'say', /mə ˈkeɪ/
M(a)cKenzie Sc SN mac-KENZ-y IPA: /mə ˈkɛn zɪ/ The traditional (and obsolete) pronunciation was 'mac-KING-y IPA: /mə ˈkɪŋ ɪ/. See yogh.
M(a)cLachlan Sc SN mac-LOCH-len IPA: /mək ˈlɒχ lɪn/ M(a)cLoughlin is an Irish equivalent.
M(a)cLeod Sc SN mac-CLOUD IPA: /mə ˈklaʊd/ Many changed the spelling to match:, 'MacCloud'
M(a)cPherson Sc SN mac-FER-son IPA: /mək ˈfɜːrsən/ Not, please, in UK 'mac FEAR-son' IPA: /mək ˈfiːrsən/.
Marjoribanks SN MARSHbanks IPA: /ˈmɑːrʃ bænkz/ (LPD, less commonly /ˈmɑːrr ɪ bænkz/
Marlborough PN, T MAWL-b'ruh [MALLb'ruh] IPA: /ˈmɔːrl brʌ/
ˈmæːl brə
The second is local, in e.g. local pron. of Marlborough Avenue in Hull.
Masham PN, SN 1) MASS-em
2) MASH-em
ˈmæs əm
ˈmæʃ əm
1) is the place in Yorkshire;
2) is alternative used by some branches of the family.
Menzies Sc SN MING-iss IPA: /ˈmɪŋ ɪs/ Usually pronounced 'MEN-zis' (/ˈmɛnz ɪz/) in England.
Milngavie Sc PN mill-GUY (locally 'mull-GUY') IPA: /ˈmɪ(or ʌ)l gaɪ/ Well-known trap for visitors to W. Scotland.
Onions SN 'uhn-EYE-ens'
IPA: /ən ˈaɪ ənz/
/əʊ ˈnaɪ ənz/
/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/, /pɪps/ or /ˈpɛp ɪs/ Samuel (1633-1703), diarist & Sec. to Navy is PEEPS; others use various.
Pontefract PN PONtyfra(c)t [pom-fret] IPA: /ˈpɒn tɪ frækt/ [IPA: /ˈpʌ (or ɒ)m frɛt/] 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: /ˈrɪv ən/ Place in Aberdeenshire, + family.
" " (2) Sc PN RUTH-ven IPA: /ˈrʌθ vən/ Place in Grampian; Loch.
Salisbury PN, T SAULz-b'ry IPA: /ˈsɔːlz bərɪ/
Scrope PN SCROOP IPA: /skruːp/ Family seat at Masham pronounced 'MASS-em', /ˈmæs əm/
Shrewsbury PN, T shROHz-b'ri [shrOOzberri] IPA: /ˈʃrəʊz bər ɪ/ [IPA: /ˈʃruːz bər ɪ/] The 1st is more RP; 2nd is how many locals say it
Southwell PN SUTH-ell
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: /sɪn ˈkleɪerr/ 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 one syllable; some in England have two.
Towcester PN toaster IPA: /ˈtəʊ stər/
Urquhart Sc SN ERK urt IPA: /ˈɜːrk ərt/
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: /ˈwuːst ər/ .
Yeats Ir SN yates IPA: /jeɪts/ Famous Irish poet W.B. (1865-1939) & painter brother Jack (1871-1957)