Hough… How? Huff? Hocht?

There was an item on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning about the pronunciation of names. Many people are familiar with the Cholmondeley-pronounced-Chumley, Mainwaring-pronounced-Mannering and Featherstonhaugh-pronounced-Fanshaw, and there are a many other examples! Sometimes names are pronounced differently because they come from a Welsh or Gaelic name, Dalziel, for example is pronounce Dee-ell, Colquhoun is pronounced Cahoon, Menzies pronounced Ming-is.

Some English names, the programme reported, change pronunciation depending on where the family live. The name Hough, for instance, is pronounced How by people living in the south, Huff by people living in the Midlands, and Hocht by people living in Scotland. This change has obviously happened through people speaking with different regional accents.

Some people though, change their names to avoid being made fun of, the most famous I would guess in England is the fictional Hyacinth Bucket, pronounced Bouquet! However, my dad, Donald knew someone whose name was written Sidebottom, who inserted an ‘h’ and changed the pronunciation to Siddy-bo- tham. Then there was my sister’s friend called Jane Onions, a teacher at the school insisted on calling her O’Nions, another friend who was quite happily called Death, but whose parents insisted on De Ath, and the schoolboy who before the holidays was Leppard (pronounced leopard like the creature) who returned in September with his name spelled the same way but pronounced L’pard

I don’t have many people finding difficulty with my surname, but Lois… Lewis, Lo-eese, Loys, Loze… I thought a four letter name would be simple!


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