Date: Mon, 21 Feb 1994 20:39:23 -0600
From: PETER GINGISS PJGingiss[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UH.EDU
The question of the origins of Houston had come up before on the Linguist list
as a side issue to the discussion of differences between /yust[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]n/ and /hyust[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]n
pronunciations. According to Norval Smith:
The funny thing is that the place that is ultimately the source of
the name Houston - whether the place in Texas gets its name from Sam
Houston or not - Houston in Renfrewshire, Scotland, is pronounced
[hust[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]n]. It is a Scots name, hoose (i.e. "house") + toon t[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]n (i.e.
"town" (actually rather "settlement")).
And Rosta of the U.K. wrote:
I have always pronounced _Houston_ as if the first syllable is that
of _who_ rather than that of _hue_. I wasn't arguing about URs in any
theoretical sense. There may be a British/American difference here.
Webster's 3rd lists /(h)yu:st[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]n/ - which conforms to your
expectations. _Houston_, being a proper noun, isn't in the OED or
other British Dictionaries I have to hand. But both Webster & OED
have _houstonia_, named after a scottish botanist. Webster gives
/(h)yu:'stouni[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]/, with alternatives /hu:-/ and /hau-/, but OED has
only /hU'st[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]Uni[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]/ (I reinterpret OED 1st edition pronunciation into
more conventional form). I've asked three other English people with
non- regional accents, and they all say _Houston_ with 1st syllable
as in _who_.
I hope those who wrote to the lInguist list in 1991 do not object to my
requoting their words; I found them most interesting.
Peter Gingiss PJGingiss[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]uh.edu
Department of English (713) 743-2947
University of Houston
Houston, Texas 77204-3012