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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1185  Friday, 13 June 2003

[1]     From:   Joachim Martillo <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 12:30:40 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

[2]     From:   John-Paul Spiro <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 14:24:09 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

[3]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 15:57:26 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 16:32:50 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

[5]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 17:39:07 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

[6]     From:   Sam Small <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 21:56:01 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

[7]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 17:18:51 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

[8]     From:   Tom Rutter <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jun 2003 09:07:10 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joachim Martillo <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 12:30:40 EDT
Subject: 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

>It's a perfectly standard British contraction.  When I lived in
>Birmingham (aka Brum) I had a flat in a building called Warwick
>Towers.
>Cab drivers never knew where I wanted to go until I learned to
>stop
>saying 'War-wick' and start saying 'Wark'.  I'm not an historical
>linguist, however, so I can't tell you when Leicester became
>Lester.
>
>Regards,
>Arthur Lindley

It is not so much a standard British contraction (we use it in the US as
well) as a requirement of English orthography.

Many English place names are the sites of old Roman forts (castra,
castrum singular), but the hard c has softened.  To maintain the
etymology but indicate the softening to an unvoiced sibilant castrum ->
cester.  If the hard "k" sound develops into ch as in church, castrum ->
chester.  If the original hard "k" sound remains castrum -> caster.

But why are there three possible ways for castrum to develop?

Joachim Martillo

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John-Paul Spiro <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 14:24:09 -0400
Subject: 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

I always thought the pronunciation of "Leicester" and similar names
comes from where you divide the syllables.  If you see the word as
"Lei-ce-ster" or "Lei-cest-er," you think it has three syllables.  If
you see it as "Leice-ster" (that is, "less-ster"), you see two syllabus
and you pronounce it correctly.  Likewise "Gloucester" as "Glouce-ster,"
"Worcester" as "Worce-ster," etc.

By the way, "Gloucester" is spelled "Gloster" in some early Lear texts.
Why did the weird spelling get preference?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 15:57:26 EDT
Subject: 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

Excuse an ignorant Yank-- is Cirencester really pronounced "cister"? and
does Towcester rhyme with Gloucester or Worcester? [Those don't rhyme do
they? one is Gloster and the other somewhere between Wooster and Wuster,
right?]

I know an Englishwoman who retains a trace of the D in her pronunciation
of Wednesday. Instead of just saying Wensday she says something more
like Wedinsday although that d is =almost= swallowed. I don't know if
this is typically English or not.

I can however correctly pronounce Llanelli !

Bill Lloyd
aka Gwylim ap Iago Gwylim ap Tomas ap Dafydd ap Sian

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 16:32:50 -0400
Subject: 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

>This is a thoroughly mysterious question!  How else could Leicester be
>pronounced?

The fact that Mr. Briggs is mystified by the question shows how
ingrained the disyllabic pronunciation now is -- in England.  An
American sees it trisyllabically.  I was visiting London many years ago
and was stopped on the street by a tourist who asked me for directions
to "Lie-sester Square."

That this phenomenon is peculiar to particular words, rather than all
"cester" endings generically, is illustrated by a story an English
friend told me about getting lost in the north country when he was told
to make a left at the turn off to "Toaster" and he didn't recognize the
sign to Towcester.

There are instances in the first tetralogy of Gloucester scanning
trisyllabically.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 17:39:07 -0300
Subject: 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

John Briggs asks,

>How else could Leicester be pronounced?

It could be pronounced "LYE-chess-tuhr" or "LEE-chest-uhr".  Leaving in
a whole syllable when writing, but not pronouncing it, strikes me as a
little odd.

Of course, Lester Pearson's first name was pronounced "Mike", so there's
always the possibility of being arbitrary.

Yours,
Sean.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Small <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 21:56:01 +0100
Subject: 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

Jan Pick writes:  The same reason Wednesday is pronounced Wensday!  It
just is and always has been.  A quirk of the English language, I
suppose!

But is it?  Those guardians of English pronunciation, the BBC, through
their newsreaders, now say Wednesday is pronounced Wensdee!  Is this
another deliberate shift or a Jan Pick quirk?

SAM SMALL
spawned and dragged up in Portsmouth

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 17:18:51 -0400
Subject: 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

Leicestershire/Leicester became "Lestershur"/"Leicester" the same way
"Gloucestershire"/"Gloucester" became "Glostissher/Gloster." (My mum was
born and bred in the latter, and I have good friends who still reside in
the former.)

Why is "Arkansas" AR-can-saw, and "Kansas" KANZ-is, or "Arab," Alabama
AY-rab (A hard as in hate), or "Fayetteville" Fett-vull?

When you're in Lima, Peru (as opposed to Lie-ma, Ohio), do you eat
lee-ma beans?

Why do Brooklynites marry the "oil," but "berl the earl"?

And how DOES one pronounce "Joe Btlfspk"? ("Very carefully," has always
been my answer.)

Why do Southerners put the AC-cent on the wrong sylLABLE (as in
UM-brella, and IN-surance)?

And how do the maitres d'/hostesses answer the 'phone at the Vietnamese
restaurant (there really is one!) called "Phat Phuc"?

Mysteries, all.

Best,
Carol Barton

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Rutter <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Jun 2003 09:07:10 +0100
Subject: 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1176 Re: Pronouncing Leicester Correctly

The Q1 title page of King Lear refers to 'the vnfortunate life of Edgar,
sonne and heire to the Earle of Gloster', indicating the Jacobean
pronunciation of 'Gloucester'. This might suggest that 'Leicester' was
similarly contracted. (There is doubtless a better source, perhaps a
dictionary of place names or something, but this was the first thing
that came to mind).

Tom Rutter

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