Talk:List of names in English with counterintuitive pronunciations/Archive 2

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Help wanted - Manx names

There are a couple of Manx place names which have counterintuitive pronunciations. I would like to enter them but I don't know how to do IPA and other standard methods of spelling them out phonetically. Can someone who does please try and get them right.

Maughold pronounced Mackold Ballaugh pronoundce Balarf

Thanks Dabbler (talk) 15:15, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

Where's the stress? Can you be more specific as to what the vowels are? kwami (talk) 07:41, 19 December 2008 (UTC)


My grandfather always used to pronounce Bolsover "bowzoer". He claimed this was the way it was pronounced - it is a town near to Chesterfield, where he was from. I have no hard reference to this.EmleyMoor (talk) 11:22, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

Can you tell us which "bow" you mean? and where the stress is? kwami (talk) 07:39, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
I think your grandfather was making a joke about the people from Bolsover, who have accents and therefore the name of the town sounds different when they say it. Like saying that Southend is pronounced "Sarfend" because that's what it sounds like when a native says it. DJ Clayworth (talk) 14:57, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

clean up

General cleanup. Tagging cases where the two transcriptions don't match, or where stress is missing, & converting to standard IPA for wikipedia. Since I'm going over everything, I may be introducing some errors. (Hopefully not too many.) Would appreciate someone double checking. kwami (talk) 13:17, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

Done, single pass. kwami (talk) 07:31, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for taking the time copy editing the list! It seems like a lot of work, especially because you did it in small bits and pieces. About half the entries and most of the IPA and plain English pronunciation guides were my edits, but, unlike you, I am not a linguist and I'm sure there were a lot of mistakes and typos. I've got a few questions:
- The additions of a stress mark to single syllable words form a large part of your edits. To me that seems superfluous, if not plain silly, but there may be a reason for it.
Not all monosyllabic words have stress, but all proper names do, so yes, it is a bit superfluous. But it's also consistent with much of the rest of Wikipedia, and half the monosyllabic names already had stress.
- An other big chunk is the replacement of : with ː. In the introduction I had written to use : instead of ː because the latter used to look odd in Firefox (and Safari?), but this seems fixed now (either in the browsers or by the representation of the character). To save a lot of time, next time you could copy the page to your text editor, replace all : with ː with the replace function, paste back, and revert the few (if any) changes outside the IPA indications.
- Many if not most of the other changes reflect modifications of the wikipedia IPA help page since the IPA pronunciations were added to this article. Unfortunately, who knows if it is stable now? I'm skeptical about any wikipedia convention, not so much because they are likely to be altered or reverted, but because they often have an ad hoc origin; commonly, a random single lucky editor manages to sneak in his or her pet rule that then is quoted repeatedly and becomes law in due time.
The IPA key has been stable for some time now. (Two years?) The only common dispute is on ɨ vs ɪ, which can be changed by bot if the key is changed, since both symbols are extremely rare outside English IPA.
- Most of the above are compromises for vowels pronounced differently according to different standardized pronunciations like RP and GenAm. For example, you've changed all əʊ in British places with the (American) oʊ compromise. I don't see why a compromise needs to be made for places decidedly in the US or the UK. Isn't the locally (nationally) agreed upon pronunciation just the point?
Most of the transcriptions were not actually the local pronunciation, but the regional standard equivalent of the local pronunciation. Local pronunciations are fine, but they should either be accurate phonetic transcriptions (in [brackets]) or need to be linked to a description of the local phonology. AFAIK at present we're only set up to do the latter w national standards like RP and Australian.
- However, your changes are not consistently towards these "agreed upon" compromises. For example, you have introduced a lot of ɚ characters where the compromise is supposed to be ər, ɝ instead of ɜr, and ɪ replacing plain ə. From that, I think I should be able to tell where you're from;-) Your user page suggests American, fitting in with ɚ and ɝ, but most Americans say ə in unstressed syllables where Brits say ɪ. Hmmm, New England? Either in or just west of Lake Pocotopaug?
Yes, US, but I try to make distinctions in transcription I don't make in speech. The rhotic vowel symbols are mostly in UK names, as people seem to have less objection to rhotic transcriptions of UK names if those symbols are used. Both are covered in the key. But by all means change to one or the other if you feel it's appropriate.
- Besides the IPA, we had added a "plain old English" pronunciation guide to save all the people not familiar with IPA some time. I didn't and still don't think this needs to be an official representation scheme, as the IPA takes care of that. Rather than translating the pronunciation of Boisjoly to enPR bōzhəlā or bohzhəlay, it seems easier to indicate that his name is pronounced "Beaujolais" (as pronounced by Americans, rather then its native boʒɔlε). Same for Belvoir -> beaver, Leigh -> lie, Ausable -> aw Sable, Worcester -> Wooster. In almost all cases one can come up with an unambiguous way.
Often works, but I've come across a lot of "unambiguous" transcriptions that I can't interpret unambiguously, like when "bow" is used. Sometimes it's hard to know if the transcriber meant an English word, or a phonetic respelling.
- While making other, good edits, some editor changed all these common spellings for British place names to the American Heritage respelling system (somehow named enPR here), and I just haven't taken the time or sought out conflict to revert that. Since this "English Phonemic Representation" was a translation of the IPA indication, the IPA is more likely to be right when you indicate that there is a conflict. Afasmit (talk) 14:06, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
That scheme isn't used for much, so I doubt anyone would faint if you deleted / converted it.
By the way, I like the heading of this discussion page: "This article was nominated for deletion on 2008-07-21. The result of the discussion was no consensus." followed by "This article has been rated as High-importance on the importance scale."
Ha! I hadn't noticed. That's precious.
Also, the "respell" template introduces an inadvertent line break in both Safari and Firefox. Afasmit (talk) 14:12, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
It also happens in Explorer, at least for me. I don't think it's a browser issue. I note that the line break only happens on this page, not on the many other pages which also use the respell template. It also doesnt happen in the Edit Preview window even on this page. I'm more apt to think that there's some sort of bug in the code of Wikipedia itself, but as to what that is and whether it can be worked around, I can't even guess. Soap Talk/Contributions 15:35, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I don't know what's going on there. Occasionally the normal view displays properly in FF. I also assume it's a coding problem; I have no idea where to go to address this, but will shop around. Meanwhile, someone might want to comment out the respellings? (I won't judge whether it's better to have the info or a clean format.) <-- S.o. at the help desk debugged the template. kwami (talk) 23:25, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
BTW, I has *not* verified many of these transcriptions! I have attempted to make them conform to the IPA key, which is easy when the two transcriptions agree, but in general if the original was wrong, it still is. I've only made a few corrections using the articles, this talk page, or the dictionary as evidence. I just noticed that 'Newark' was wrong. kwami (talk) 21:34, 19 December 2008 (UTC)


There are two limericks here that seem to suggest "Carew" is pronounced not "Kerry" but "Carey" (i.e. to rhyme with Mary, not with merry or marry), but they're not entirely consistent. In the first, "Carew" rhymes with "fairy" and "scary", and in the second it rhymes with "dairy" and "hairy", but also with "berry". So it seems to be 4:1 for "Carey" against "Kerry". —Angr 06:17, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

I would take that to mean that the writer of the limerick was doing the best he could but couldn't find a perfect rhyme (note that it also rhymes tool with full). Also, some dialects in America actually do rhyme those words, although the site seems to be focused on British names. Soap Talk/Contributions 15:24, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I know; I merge Mary/merry/marry myself. But for the transdialectal phonemic transcription on this page, it's important to know how it's pronounced in non-merging accents. (As for "tool" and "full", they rhyme in Scottish English and Ulster English. However, in the limerick, the reference is to a gooseberry fool, so it doesn't rhyme tool with full at all!) —Angr 15:28, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Stresses in one-syllable words

I don't understand why we should waste bytes on those. They don't in dictionaries. See [1] The Other Saluton (talk) 05:27, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

Not all monosyllabic words have stress, though that makes no effective difference in a list of names, which all do. kwami (talk) 08:49, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
Any word has a stress if pronounced independently. The Other Saluton (talk) 10:10, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
That's prosodic, not lexical. Again, not really relevant for here. kwami (talk) 11:25, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
You're right, it's not relevant. So why was my edit reverted? The Other Saluton (talk) 12:37, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
As I said in the edit summary, precision doesn't hurt. No reason to remove it. Also, it's in line with other articles, which is a good thing. kwami (talk) 20:26, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

Who decides what is intuitive?

I'm not convinced this article can be NPOV. I see Edinburgh's in it, but to anyone from Scotland Edinburgh is pronounced exactly as it's spelled and Pittsburgh is pronounced counterintuitively. What process is being used for deciding what is an unintuitive pronunciation? (talk) 13:59, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

I agree. This article does not represent a neutral point of view. Perhaps a different title, something like "Guide to the pronunciation of names in English-speaking countries" or changing "counterintuitive" to "non-phonetic", would solve the problem? For example, very few place names on the UK list would be counterintuitive to people living in the UK but they are definitely non-phonetic, and I'm sure the same can be said for the other countries. Mehmet Karatay (talk) 22:09, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
The trouble with changing "counterintuitive" to "non-phonetic" is that "non-phonetic pronunciation" is nonsense; all pronunciations are phonetic. +Angr 20:59, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
I think we're talking about "non-phonetic" in the sense of that the spelling differs from pronunciation, more like with the literacy education method Phonics, not necessarily the technical definition of phonetic in that human speech sounds are being produced. --Kraftlos (Talk | Contrib) 21:37, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
Then, "List of names in English whose pronunciations do not comply with phonics"? +Angr 05:49, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Lol, that doesnt have the same ring to it. Anyway, I still think it is a correct use of "non-phonetic" --Kraftlos (Talk | Contrib) 06:38, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Hi, it was me who posted as 94.193... while logged out. The trouble with having an article about place names that don't comply with phonics is that in having such an article Wikipedia would be seen to endorse a particular method of teaching English spelling, and one that is not uncontroversial. As long as the article exists, whatever its title, someone (in Wikipedia's name) has to make a judgement about what is the correct/intuitive/phonetic/usual/etc., etc. way to pronunce, for example, "-ugh" in English. Is it -ugh as in cough? -ugh as in Slough? -ugh as in hiccough? -ugh as in thought? -ugh as in burgh? The list of ways those three letters can be pronounced in different English words goes on and on: none is phonetic, none is intuitive. English simply isn't a phonetically spelled language. The best we could do, while keeping the article, would be to call it "List of English place names whose pronunciation is counterintuitive to North Americans", which would: (a) be daft; and (b) demand the creation of more articles for place names that are counterintuitive to speakers of other forms of English, such as a Scottish English article that lists Pittsburgh as being counterintuitively pronounced Pittsberg. In my view, the only way to resolve the inherent POV problems with this article is to delete it.GideonF (talk) 13:57, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
No, I think that's going too far. We have a challenge with the title, and probably with the intro, and maybe some of the entries should go, but it's a very handy collection of information, not available anywhere else afaik, not to this degree of detail anyway. What I think we should be confining it to is cases where the pronunciation is completely unpredictable from the spelling. Ask a group of people who'd never heard of Poughkeepsie or Schenectady before, how the words are pronounced, and you'll get a variety of answers, none far wrong, maybe with the stress in the wrong place, or pronouncing Pough to rhyme with flow, that sort of thing. They'll all be roughly in the ball park. But show them Cholmondely, and not a single one will get remotely close. There's simply no way to know, without being told, that it's pronounced Chumley. Same for Featherstonehaugh = Fanshaw. Maybe we should strip it down to solely those totally unpredictable cases, and call it something like "List of names with unpredictable pronunciations". -- JackofOz (talk) 14:25, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

Hmm. You raise a very good point, 94.193. Having thought about it, I'd now even take issue with:

  • Excluded are the numerous spellings which fail to make the pronunciation obvious without actually being at odds with it: for example, the pronunciation /skəˈnɛktədi/ of Schenectady is non-intuitive but not counter-intuitive.

I can only echo your question: Sez who? For a better title, I think we have to get right away from any notion of compliance with anything. English has become an inherently malcompliant (?) language, with more exceptions for any supposed rule than any language I know. I like the idea of "Guide to the pronunciation of names in English-speaking countries", but not the use of terms like phonics or phonetics. These rely on the kindergarten teaching of how each of the 26 letters and a small group of letter-pairs (ch, sh, ph ...) is supposedly pronounced, which is ok for getting toddlers started, but for the real world (no offence, kiddies) is very inadequate in many cases. -- JackofOz (talk) 07:09, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

If you look in the archives you'll see that years ago, I suggested the title "List of names in English whose pronunciations are not easily deducible from their spellings", but conceded that that's a bit wordy. As for who decides what counts as counterintuitive/not easily deducible enough for inclusion in the list, I'd say COMMONSENSE combined with talk page discussion decides. User:Lancevortex said he started this page for names along the lines of Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley), and I agree that's in a quite different class from Schenectady or Poughkeepsie, whose pronunciations may not be blindingly obvious from their spellings but are also not really at odds with them either, the way Cholmondeley's is. +Angr 08:07, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
It is a useful list, but perhaps more useful if restricted to the truly unpredictable cases. Anyone coming across the name Schenectady is going to know that they're not getting the name exactly, and therefore might look it up, but they'd have no way of knowing that Featherstonehaugh isn't pronounced feather + stone + haugh, however they think the 'haugh' might be pronounced. It's worth listing names like that that are completely unparsable. kwami (talk) 18:51, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
We seem to be on the same page here, Kwami. See my earlier post above, saying virtually the same thing with more words. -- JackofOz (talk) 03:26, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

Survived AfD Once again - Plan Forward

Well, this list has survived AfD once again. In the time between the last AfD and this most recent one, it doesn't seem like there was any concerted effort to cleanup the article (perhaps it wasn't obvious before). Anyway, I think this article should be improved so we don't have to go through that again. Here are some thoughts and questions:

  • S Marshall suggested several books in the AfD does anyone have access to these? I could check them out from the when I have time.
  • We need a more rigorous definition of what qualifies as "counter intuitive". This would be greatly aided if we could get some references from books on the subject to form this definition rather than simply doing what seems to be borderline original research.
  • Many people stated the need for cleanup (myself included). However looking at the list, it seems impractical to simply remove everything that isn't sourced, at least at this stage. What exactly will our procedure be for cleanup? Or should we just start referencing everything and come back to cleanup later?
  • Eauhomme stated that the IPA pronunciation might not be the best format for this article, any thoughts about that? What should we do instead of that?

Anyway, I look forward to hearing your thoughts! Thanks everyone! --Kraftlos (Talk | Contrib) 07:04, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

The pronunciations themselves should be easy enough to source. There are plenty of dictionaries, both online and in dead-tree editions, that provide pronunciation info about place names and personal names. Bill Bryson's The Mother Tongue, mentioned in the AFD, however, cannot be considered a reliable source as it is a popular work written by a non-expert. As for Eauhomme's comment, "IPA is not necessarily the best way to present pronunciation", I can only say it may not be the best conceivable way, but it is better than any other method of presenting pronunciation invented so far. As for defining "counterintuitive", I'm reminded of the judge in the obscenity trial who said, "I may not be able to define pornography, but I know it when I see it." +Angr 09:12, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
Per the MOS, IPA must be used, even if it is used alongside some other system. Also, we definitely need an actual definition of counterintuitive. --Alynna (talk) 12:03, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Regarding definitions of counter-intuitive spelling, I have skimmed about forty scholarly papers in the fields of psychology, linguistics, and education looking for definitions of (counter)intuitive. I located these by searching Google Scholar for {orthography counterintuitive} and {counterintuitive spelling}, then retrieved as many of the papers as I could from my university's library. In every case I looked at, the scholars described their findings or their predictions as counter-intuitive from a pre-theoretical standpoint; none described spelling or reading practices themselves as counter-intuitive. I submit that we may need to re-name the article, or at least re-write the lead section. An over-long title might be preferable to one that is unsupportable, or supported only via synthesis. Cnilep (talk) 16:57, 11 August 2009 (UTC)


Quoting WP:MOS-P:

For English words, transcriptions based on English spelling ("pronunciation respellings") such as proh-NUN-see-AY-shən may be used, as may US dictionary-style transcriptions such as prō·nŭn′·sē·ā′·shən, but only in addition to the IPA. All of these should link to an explanation of the symbols, which are not likely to be universally understood.

Clearly, the homemade phonetic respellings that some have added to this page to not fit the criteria. Besides, none of the respellings indicate stress and can be interpreted differently.("calkly"), for example, was used as a respelling for the name Colcolough; some would infer a silent l, as a Southerner, I would infer a sounded l. If someone wishes to add real transcriptions from Wikipedia:Pronunciation respelling key or perhaps from a key from American-Heritage or some other dictionary, please do, but don't make up your own system, it isn't helpful. Teh Rote (talk) 16:09, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

If you can't read IPA, you are an uneducated hick who has no business reading or editing an article like this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Htahpoahf (talkcontribs) 20:52, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Re Kelowna and other British Columbia placenames

I don't know where this came from, which I "hid" - "Kelowna....formerly pronounced /kəˈlaʊnə/" - which is like saying that Vancouver was formerly pronounced Van-KOW-ver because somebody misread it, or Nana-EE-mo for Nanaimo. I also don't see why the given pronunciation of Keremeos is "counterintuitive" but if that's the case there are scores of BC placenames, mostly aboriginal, some French, that qualify; I'm not familiar with their IPAs or would add them to the list; I'll use quasi-English phonetics to give their pronunciations here but will come back with their IPAs where available:

That's all for now; IIRC there's another couple of French-origin ones that maybe will come back to me; most aboriginal names are idiosyncratic to start with i.e. in terms of anglicization.Skookum1 (talk) 14:52, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

I think that most of these should not be included, including Kelowna, which looks perfectly regular. Many pronunciations may not be the first to be guessed, but could come in second or third (especially with respect to stress).
These already are on the list:
    • Chehalis is on the US list. This pronunciation doesn't break any rules though and I would vote it off.
    • Osoyoos; but with the /ɒˈsjuːs/ pronunciation only. /ˈsjuːs/ is even weirder, as if someone misspelled Sooyoos as Osoyoos and it stuck.
      • That's exactly what happened; the original name in the Okanagan language is /ˈsjuːs/ - th "O" was added to "harmonize" the name with other O-placenames in the region (Omak, Oroville, Oliver, Okanagan).Skookum1 (talk) 04:23, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
    • Quesnel; an aborted marriage of French (silent s) and English (kw)
    • Sechelt;. I don't think SEE is anyone's second or third guess.
      • I eas more meaning the "ch", which is sh, not tsh.Skookum1 (talk) 04:23, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
    • Skagit is on the US list. It's pushing the limits, just like Puget.
    • Tsawwassen; as /təˈwɑːsən/; there is no mention of the proper pronunciations being /səˈwɑːsən/, which is perhaps not so weird.
      • Maybe; but habitually that first "s' is silent, completely; to use it sounds like an affectation, even though it's how it is in the original language (in this case, I think, it's North Straits Salish and not Hunquminum)
Four that I would vote in:
    • Shuswap for its "shwap"
    • Shalalth; /læθ/ seems nicely unlikely. If it is /lɑːθ/ less so.
    • Taghum; debatable, but /teɪ-/ seems odd enough
    • Johnstone Strait; if officially pronounced as "Johnson".
In Kanaka, Chopaka, the /æ/ may be unexpected but it shows a trend. British Columbia towns already on the list that probably should be removed are Kelowna and Summerland, Keremeos is also not so unlikely. Afasmit (talk) 19:25, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
      • Didn't notice taht Summerland was on there; like its neighbour Peachland the -land should be unstressed; lately imported/newbie newscasters have been stressing it, likewise Abbots-FORD, instead of ABBotsferd. What about Savona?Skookum1 (talk) 04:23, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

OH, what about Skidegate? SKID-eh-git or maybe SKID-eh-gEt where E-schwa. i.e. not Skied-gayt. Another native oddity is Tahsis, typically pronounced TAR-shish. OH, and Clayoquot, which is properly CLAH-kwat though earlier version of pages with that name had outsider-mistake-version "CLAY-kwat" as the primarych it's not (like saying "FRAY-zhyer" for Fraser); mostly it's that missing "o"....similarly Hesquiat is properly pronounced HESH-kwit but most people say HESS-kwee-at.Skookum1 (talk) 04:25, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

On deleting non-English names

Just a heads up. I'm all for a massive purging of this list, but the majority of surnames in it are not of English origin, and a large fraction of place names outside England (and even in England!) have the same "problem". They can be traced back to Romance, Gaelic, Scandinavian, Native American, etc. languages. This probably should not be enough reason to kick them from the list. The families and places with these names are in the UK, US, Australia etc. and it's the uniquely mangled pronunciation in English that gets them on the list. If lingerie (/ˌlɑnʒəˈreɪ/) were someone's surname rather than something else, it would make a perfect entry for the list, despite its undoubted French origin (where they innocently say /lɛ̃ʒəˈri/). Afasmit (talk)

Well, I know your point and I pondered it when adding the Canadian placenames of indigenous and non-English origin; because they're in standard, common usage in Canadian English (and even Americans do get them wrong sometime, like Kel-OW-na (sorry I don't know IPA well)...Cal-GAIR-y is another often-Americanism, though perhaps much more like the original Irish rather than how it's (supposed to be) said in Canada; In the same style Americans often pronounce, even when trying not to, the Fraser River as the "Fra-zhier" River and also habitually spell it, even today, as "Frazier"...the effect is something like Ore-GAWN. Nanaimo and certain other indigenous names (Chilliwack, though Chilly-wack does get heard, mostly jokingly) may be somewhat intuitive but I have heard it attemptively pronounced Nana-EEmo, but admittedly that was by a French Canadian girl on the train coming into Vancouver and whose first time in BC it was; she also took "Coquitlam" as "Co-KEET-lam", which is natural enough (for a francophone, that is). Kamloops and Tofino may also be intuitive, i.e. accent on the first syllable on Kamloops (rhymes with "oops"); Toe-FEE-no on Tofino; its neighbour Ucleelet's certainly not (both small but well-known places...there's kind of a slangy way to say Ucluelet- Ukeh-lu-let, something like Lily-wet for "Lillooet" or "cash crick" for Cache Creek, nor Kyuquot (Kai-YOO-kwat); and many spellings of Indian names work just fine in English, e.g. Penticton (which isn't in the list, nor Squamish though I did put Sechelt in there I think). And, without looking at the page, how would you say "Kootenay"?. Please note I didn't include any minor placenames of this kind, only the major ones. To some degree the proper way to say Newfoundland, by the way, is not all that intuitive - "rhymes with understand" as I was told long ago, adamantly, "Newfound-LAND, understand?"; not indigenous of course; similarly Vanderhoof, "Vander-HOOF" rhyming with "roof" (the Canadian way, not the US way, sorry again don't know the IPA). And Vanderhoof is a Dutch name, ultimately. Maybe List of placenames used in English with counterintuitive pronunciations could be a split-off or something; it's also when names in a given language aren't pronounced the way in English they are in French, e.g. Montreal, Portage La Prairie....Quesnel also is unlike its French pronunciation, among many others, from various languages (even Icelandic...).....Moriceville is from French, but the intuitive way to say it in English, I'd think is Mo-REES-vill rather than "M(E)riceville" - E as schwa and almost not there.Skookum1 (talk) 21:35, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

re rmv Fiennes

I realize that "fie" is pronounced intuitively that way, but "Fienens", until I was taught it correctly, I'd thought was Fee-ens, a French derivation though of course in French the 's' would be silent. And I'm not sure but I think "Rafe" (i.e. Ralph, also non-intuitive, at least for non-Britons) Fiennes may be a relation to Sir Randolph Twistleton Wykeham Fiennes, the modern aristocrat-explorer; I knew the crew of the .... can't remember the vessel's name, it'll come to me - the expedition ship when it was moored in Vancouver as part of the Transglobe Expedition, not via the actor's name, who I didn't know of 'til later. (I'm linking these out of curiosity to see if they have articles...) I'd say Fiennes should go back in the list, also with a note that the first name is also pronounced differently than in standard North American English - I wouldn't know about South African or Australasian, if it's even a common name there. Ralph as in Ralph Cramden, I mean (the Jackie Gleason character). It may be intuitive in British English, it's not across the pound, and perhaps not in the Antipodes.Skookum1 (talk) 21:35, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

The usual criterion for inclusion in this list is not so much "This name's spelling might suggest a different pronunciation from the actual one" but rather "This name's pronunciation is totally unexpected when compared to its spelling" (things like "Fanshaw" for "Featherstonehaugh". "Fines" might not be most people's first guess at a pronunciation of "Fiennes", but neither is it really counterintuitive. +Angr 21:44, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

Place names in Britain and Ireland

Based on local knowledge, [2] and other reading, I suggest adding the following Scottish places. Please can someone convert IPA to the US pronunciations, which I'm not familiar with?

Certes (talk) 01:00, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

Actually, Wikipedia's IPA convention for English is multi-dialectal, not specifically American, although it doesn't include Scottish English - see WP:IPAEN for details. As far as my understanding goes, all the above look ok to me already, except Grandtully should probably have final /i/ due to so-called "happy tensing". However, the best people to check these can be found at Wikipedia talk:IPA_for_English. Lfh (talk) 18:36, 10 December 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for the comments, particular the happy tensing which doesn't apply in my part of the world. I've added the above places with IPA (which I agree is international) but lacking United States dictionary transcription. Certes (talk) 19:07, 10 December 2009 (UTC)
IPA has priority over US-dict anyway, going by WP:PRONUNCIATION. However the US-dict versions should be (more or less) mechanically derivable from the IPA. I went to Anstruther a few months ago - I wish I'd known how to pronounce it! Lfh (talk) 09:55, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

Melbourne, Australia

The local pronunciation is [ˈmælbən, -bn̩], that is with a silent "r" and a very truncated "bourne". per main entry for Melbourne. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:21, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Who decides what is "counterintuitive"?

So "London" is somehow not allowed an entry on the list because it "normal English spelling conventions" (which it doesn't), but England, Beaconsfield and Berkshire are, altho' they probably have better claim to following any conventions. Unless someone can put citations or references to these conventions on the article page, then the whole article is subjective, i.e. fails WP:NPV massively, and should be deleted. Rapido (talk) 14:06, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Your point is a valid one, but your way of presenting it is inflammatory, unlikely to win any allies, and in violation of WP:3RR. I'm glad it finally occurred to you to come to the talk page.
I agree that "England" should not be in the list (although I won't remove it until others can bring up counterarguments): I think the value of the first vowel varies in regional pronunciation (I grew up with southern American English, and lack the "pin/pen" distinction, so it's all the same to me). The two different provided pronunciations of "Beaconsfield" are at odds; the former is "counterintuitive" because "ea" is seldom pronounced /ɛ/. "Berkshire" is counterintuitive in American English, but there are similar cases in British English, so I'll defer to someone with a better knowledge of that.
Whatever "rules" you may have found, the /ʌn/ pronunciation in "London" is common in English: "Monday", "from", "son", "ton/tonne" immediately come to mind. Just because the pronunciation of a word cannot be predicted, that doesn't always make it counterintuitive.--Curtis Clark (talk) 16:06, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree that it makes far more sense to remove England, Beaconsfield, and Berkshire (and probably a host of others) from this list than to add the eminently intuitive London to it. +Angr 16:10, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
There are useful facts and good arguments for both sides above, especially in #Who decides what is intuitive? and Cnilep's last paragraph of #Survived AfD Once again - Plan Forward.
In a phonemic orthography such as German or Spanish, where each letter (or digraph) has an almost unique pronunciation, this would be an easy list. In English, each letter has a group of alternative sounds. At the risk of original research, I suppose we should list names where any letter has a sound not in its group. The London question then becomes: "is /ʌ/ in the sound group for o?". Does anyone know of a reliable source listing such groups? Certes (talk) 16:42, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes. The Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (2nd edition, 2000, ISBN 0-582-36467-1) by John C. Wells includes a spelling-to-sound chart for every letter and every common digraph, indicating the most common ways the letters and letter sequences are pronounced. The entry for "o" includes: "Less frequently [than /ɒ/ and /oʊ/], it is /ʌ/, as in come /kʌm/ (especially before m, n, v, th)". +Angr 19:58, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Many of these words were originally spelled u, but changed to o because in the calligraphy of the time u was nearly illegible next to m n v. (I don't know about th. Angr?) So it was actually an orthographic convention at one point, perhaps never fully implemented, that /ʌ/ be spelled o when adjacent to these letters. kwami (talk) 00:01, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
The only words I can think of off the top of my head where o spells /ʌ/ before th, namely mother, brother, other, and nothing, have an etymological o, so the change to /ʌ/ might be phonological rather than orthographic there. +Angr 00:34, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
The LPD and/or the Cambridge Pronouncing Dictionary would be a great source to use for weeding some of the names and defending others. Let's see where we get. I do argue though that if/when a letter (or letter combination) is said to rarely represent some sound, this probably shouldn't make its pronunciation in such a way "intuitive". For example, the Cambridge Pronouncing Dictionary gives in their "Pronouncing the letter A" the default /æ/, /eɪ/, /aː/, and /e(ə)/ (before an r), the additional ɒ (as in swan) and ɔː (walk, warm) (both only after /w/, I think), and the rare ɛ (in "many"). Just because "many" is pronounced the way it is, the /ɛ/ in Thames doesn't suddenly strike me as intuitive. Likewise /ɑ/ for i and /eɪ/ for ie is still counterintuitive, despite the word lingerie, and nobody will think of pronouncing Leo as Louie (/luːi/), just because of geoduck. Afasmit (talk) 01:59, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
That strikes me as a reasonable approach. kwami (talk) 02:11, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree, but it would be nice to find a better edge case: "Thames" is clearly on one side of the divide (as is my favorite, "Refugio"), and "London" on the other side.--Curtis Clark (talk) 03:36, 31 December 2009 (UTC)