Very soon we will be taking a trip to Scotland, a chance for my husband, Dougie, to reconnect with his homeland.
We thought we would go now just in case he needs to apply for a new passport to cross the border after the referendum.
As usual, there will be gales of laughter when I try to pronounce the Scottish place names. The last time we visited, Dougie hooted (well, Scotsmen do have a tendency to hoot) when I pronounced the town Milngavie as milungavee instead of millguy. “Why on earth have they got a ‘v’ in it?” I blustered.
Further hilarity was caused by my total demolition of the county name Kirkcudbrightshire. How was I to know it was pronounced kirkoobreesher rather than how it looks phonetically, kircudbrightshire.
Or how about Rutherglen, an area of Glasgow, which sounds thoroughly menacing when my husband says it, yet when I change the ‘uth’ to ‘ooth’ it becomes a heathercovered valley more at home in Brigadoon.
I can’t really blame this inability to pronounce places on being English, as I make similar mistakes nearer home. Like most newcomers to South Holland,
I struggled with the emphasis within the word Ayscoughfee and wasn’t sure if the second syllable was a proper cough or whether it should sound like plough, rough or dough. That’s before I attempt to spell it.
I cringe thinking about a meal I once had in the now sadly demolished pub, Ye Olde Dun Cow, Cowbit, asking for a cowbit pie instead of a cubbit one. The waitress was very kind when she corrected me on my butchered pronunciation.
Further afield, come on, admit it, no one has ever correctly articulated Belvoir Castle for the first time as beaver.
I also have it on good authority that Godmanchester in Cambridgeshire is pronounced gumster but have carefully avoided having to say the name for fear of looking a fool (which wouldn’t be difficult).
Only recently I discovered, via a TV news item, that Cley next the Sea in Norfolk is pronounced klie. Do you think this is just how the local dialect has changed the word over the years? It certainly sounded very peculiar spoken by a newsreader with a Home Counties accent.
I discovered something else about Cley next the Sea. Its windmill, which has just been treated to a whole set of new sails, was formerly the childhood home of singersongwriter James Blunt. It was inherited in 1934 by his grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Hubert Blount.
So let me get this straight. His name is really Blount. Not Blunt.
Someone else needing to sharpen up their pronunciation?