Date: Sat, 7 Jan 1995 16:24:02 -0300


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" . . .

alias "bouquet"!

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