Date: Sat, 7 Jan 1995 16:24:02 -0300
From: Chris Brooks chris[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]HSCC.KUNIV.EDU.KW
Subject: Euphonizing (?) proper names
Is there a name for (there MUST be!) proper names which are pronounced
differently from the way we would pronounce them according to their
spellings (sorry)--because spelling pronunciations would result in an
embarrassing, low-class, or objectionable word?
For example, my British colleague says that the family name De'ath,
spelled in apostrophe-less 'standardized' or bureaucratic fashion which
would be pronounced like "death," is pronounced "dee-ath."
And the family name "Sidebottom" is pronounced "siddy-bottOME." Really.
Hey, my colleague swears this is the case--in Britain.
I remember the Family name "Saint John," rendered as "sin-jin." Here
it seems to be avoiding something overtly religious or presumtuous.
Apparently there is a BBC sit-com where a Mrs. Bucket, a middle class
women with aspirations stronlgy resists the common-sounding normal
spelling pronunciation, insisting that people say "boo-kay" . . .
A similar phenomenon has happened to the word "harrass," where stress
on the last syllable has been judged to be too evocative of the
ordinary term for a person's behind. Actually, I just checked
Webster's and HARass is given as the second pronunciation.
Do you know of any other perhaps deliberate mispronunciations
of names to avoid the sound of an objectionable word? And what would
you call these?
Chris Brooks / Kuwait University