View Full Version : How do you pronounce 'England' ?

Tin Kicker
13th Dec 2001, 22:29
My mate insists on pronouncing the 'E' in 'England' like the 'e' in 'bed'. He claims that this is the proper fashion and that anyone who pronounces it like 'ingland' is just corrupting the language.

Personally I think he's making a fool of himself -- I think that although the word is spelled with an 'E' the origins are such that it's actually correctly pronounced like an 'i'...

...so who's right? :confused:

tony draper
13th Dec 2001, 22:52
Well the pronunciation will vary depending on where you are.
Yer cockney would say, Hingerland.
Yer native of Belfast would say, Ongerlond.
Yer poshy nonce southener Ingarlarnd.
Now your Geordie would pronounce it correctly, in the same way Good Queen Bess and Willy Shakespeare would have voiced it, Inglind. ;)

13th Dec 2001, 22:53
For what it's worth, here's what Websters thinks (OK, so it's a US dictionary - what would they know?)...

Main Entry: En∑gland
Pronunciation: 'i[ng]-gl&nd, 'i[ng]-l&nd

Clearly, the 'I' pronunciation is in the lead! :rolleyes:

13th Dec 2001, 23:02
"Over yonder" always worked well for me.

13th Dec 2001, 23:14
Correct Sanjosebaz

Chambers Dictionary - English (inglish) belonging to England or its inhabitants.

The Oxford English Dictionary - English (inglish) - official language of Britain

So I think Tin Kicker, the I's have it - your friend is being rather precious methinks.

14th Dec 2001, 00:17
Sorry Draper, you are on dodgy ground here. Shakespeare was after all from the West Midlands, so the oeuvre should properly be delivered in a Yammy accent.

Dr. Johnson was from Lichfield, so he probably sounded pretty Brummie as well.

tony draper
14th Dec 2001, 00:26
Shakespeare being assosiated with the theatre
probably spoke with a lisp and had a funny walk. ;)

Distinctively Geordie and Northumbrian words are more than 80 % Angle in origin, compared to standard English, where the figure is less than 30 %. Modern English words by comaprison are predominantly of Latin origin because modern English derives from the dialects of southern England which were continuosly influenced by the Latin and Norman French favoured by the educated classes of Oxford, Cambridge and London.

Geordie words should not therefore be seen as sloppy pronounciation or a poor use of language, as they are in fact of great antiquity. Indeed many old words and phrases commonly used in the old works of Chaucer and Shakespeare which are no longer used in other parts of Britain have survived as common usage in the North East.

Of course some Geordie words are of more recent origin or are corruptions or words borrowed from other regions, but often the similarities between Anglo-Saxon and Geordie can be quite surprising. For example Geordies in the same way as the Anglo-Saxons use the word `WIFE' as term for a woman whether she is married or not, while the Anglo-Saxon word ALD (OLD) is similar to the Geordie (AAD). Thus in Anglo-Saxon ALD WIFE literally meant `Old Woman' .

Sometimes a Geordie may appear to be using words incorrectly , but this may not always be the case. For example a Geordie may say Aaal Larn yer (meaning I'll teach you) as in the Anglo Saxon Laeran which meant teach. Other Geordie words of Anglo Saxon origin include Axe (ask) from the Anglo-Saxon Acsian, Burn meaning stream, Hoppings meaning fayre andGan which is the Geordie and Anglo saxon word meaning to go.

The unique way in which Geordies and Northumbrians pronounce certain words is also often Anglo-Saxon in origin. Thus Geordie words like Dede, Coo, Cloot, Hoos, Wrang, Strang and Lang are in fact the original Anglo-Saxon pronounciations for Dead, Cow, Clout, House, Wrong, Strong and Long.

These old words have survived in the North East for a number of reasons primarily associated with the region's historical remoteness and isolation from southern England. The turbulent border history of this region was also a major factor in discouraging outside influence although some Viking words have crept into the local dialect from the neighbouring Viking settled areas of Yorkshire, South Durham and Cumbria.

14th Dec 2001, 00:31
The pronunciation of english has changed markedly over the centuries due to immigration and cross-over from other languages. It has been asserted that the accent that mostly purely reflects that spoken in shakespearean england is that spoken in Australia. That would make for an interesting version of Romeo and Juliett.

Strewth!!, What light through yonder window breaks............

Perhaps we can get Dame Edna to star.

tony draper
14th Dec 2001, 01:35
I once watched a Shakesperian play performed by a Scotish group if I remember correctly, it was performed in English in the way and accent as near as anybody can reproduce it, would have been performed at the Globe, believe me it sounded more like a Rab C Nesbit than any Australian.
As I understand it the Australian accent reflects more the dialect spoken in ninteenth century Engand.
I can never detect any regional variation in the way Australian English is spoken, but Australian folks tell me there is. ;)

bubba zanetti
14th Dec 2001, 01:42
O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy fatha , an refuse thy nyame ;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn me love,
An I'll ne longer be a Capulet.

My mother says "Hing gland"

[ 13 December 2001: Message edited by: bubba zanetti ]

14th Dec 2001, 01:51
Or how the American version:

New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/lastword/answers/713communication.jsp?tp=communication1

It is often assumed that accents in countries that see large-scale immigration will diverge from the accents of the settlers' original country. The reverse may be true, however. The original accent can remain in the country now occupied by immigrants, while the accent in the nation of origin develops along new lines. This has occurred in the development of American English.

English immigrants to North America settled in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, while 13 years later the Pilgrim Fathers landed further north at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language by David Crystal tells us that these two settlements had different linguistic consequences for the development of American English. The Jamestown colonists came mainly from England's West Country and spoke with the characteristic burr of these counties. This pattern can still be heard in some of the communities of the Jamestown region, especially Tangier Island in Chesapeake Bay. Because of the relative isolation of this area, this "Tidewater" accent has changed only slightly in 400 years and is sometimes said to be the closest we will ever get to the sound of Shakespearean English.

The Plymouth colonists, by contrast, came from eastern England. These accents dominated in what is now New England, and their speech patterns are still the main influence in this area.

An outline of the development of English in all its forms can be found on the BBC website www.bbc.co.uk/routesofenglish. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/routesofenglish.)


tony draper
14th Dec 2001, 02:07
There was a Australian guy on TV a few weEks ago can't remember the prog now ,he was compaining that among some of the younger generation the accent is becoming more pronounced, the example he gave was, "OH NO".
this has become "OY NOY".
The accent that my area was famed for has become very diluted in my lifetime, lots of words in common usage are not heard now.
The street kids around here, The Charvers as they are called (sp)seem to have developed a
strange sing songy whinning type of variation on the local dialect,.

Heard a guy reading Chaucer in the original idiom on a open university prog,it was possible to catch the odd word here and there but to all intents and purposes it was a foreign language to me.
Facinating thing language.

14th Dec 2001, 03:11
ORAC, you are kidding, aren't you?

Firstly, that the brethren who set sail in the "Mayflower" came largely from the West of England is indisputable. To claim that they spoke English in the Shakespearian manner is a nonsense.

It is to be doubted whether Shakespeare himself would have spoken English with an accent from the Midlands, since he spent so much of his life in London... but either way, one man's pronunciation does not validate English the world over. At school I was forced to learn Middle English when reading Chaucer - a friend of mine at University suffered similarly and, when drunk, would sit in the college bar reciting Beatles songs in Chaucerian pronunciation. But it doesn't make it correct.

Next, the Australian accent is generally accepted to be the offspring of a Cockney accent, since a huge number of the transportees were from the East End of London. Listen, for example, to Sid James in either the "Carry On" films or in any "Hancock" episode. In many it is impossible to tell whether he was a Cockney or an Aussie.

My own view is that English is very much a "live" language. It is continually developing and evolving, and does not suffer nearly so much as French from those who would bottle it and preserve it in formaldehyde.

I like regional accents. I've moved around so much in the last 15 or so years that I'm convinced that English is enriched by all the regional slang, the variation, the weirdness of it all. To claim that any particular one is "genuine" is to deny the claims of the others to legitimacy in their own right.

tony draper
14th Dec 2001, 03:42
I think Sid was from South Africa origionly.
The South African English accent is a strange one, hard to say where that came from, doesn't sound like at all like a Dutch person speaking English.

14th Dec 2001, 04:31
Australia - no. The USA - yes.

The above is a quote from new Scientist cross-referred to the BBC. But also see:

and: http://pmi.itmonline.com/Series/story_of_english.htm

The Guid Scots Tongue
In the 7th century, Anglo-Saxons settled in southern Scotland, their numbers later bolstered by refugees from the Norman invasion. This program traces these lowland Scots to Northern Ireland, where they settled on land seized from Irish lords, to America, where they cultivated the frontier, and to Appalachia, where many Scots-Irish still live. The standard American accent, used by TV announcers and news anchors, is based on the Scottish version of English.

and: http://www.geocities.com/wizzo2/thomas.htm

One of the characteristics of the historical languages that is still found in Appalachian English today is subject-verb agreement patterns. They don't match the standard that is taught in schools. For instance, Appalachian English speakers might say People goes instead of People go. Another characteristic left over from early speech in the Appalachian area is pronunciation. For instance, where Standard English speakers might say it, Appalachian English speakers pronounce hit. Appalachian speakers also put an h sound in front of ain't, so we would get hain't. Also in Appalachian English, we sometimes hear the prefix -a before certain verbs, such as in That dog was a-howling all night long. The Appalachian variety of English has many such remnants from the language of the past.
Fish's purposes in presenting these examples are to emphasize the definable regularity of the Appalachian dialect as well as to recall the often forgotten fact, as Robert Hendrickson understands in his book Mountain Range, that "Mountain talk, more than any other dialect in America or even Britain, is the closest surviving relative today to the Elizabethan language of Shakespeare" (Hendrickson).

and others......

14th Dec 2001, 05:24
But ORAC, as Huggy so rightly said What is or was the language of Shakespeare. Even today the difference between a native Glaswegian and a Cornishman could make them virtually unintelligible to each other. They could almost be speaking in two totally separate languages.

Even between counties there is such variation in both phraseology and grammatical structure.

The following owes a debt to Bill Bryson
This is part of a Kentish dialect Lord's Prayer from around late 15thC

And vorlet ous oure yeldinges ase and we vorletep oure yelderes, and ne ous led nazt in-to vondinge, ac vri ous vram queade

William Caxton in his preface to Eneydos in 1490 relates the story of some London sailors who went down the 'Tamyse' and ended up in Kent - they went looking for food and 'axed for mete and specyally axyd after eggys'. The farmer's wife couldn't understand them for she 'coude speke no frenshe'. In her locale - eggs were 'eyren'.

At the time of Shakespeare, it was Latin and French that were considered civilised languages - English was for the common herd, not scholars. It was still a foreign language to many parts of Britain.

English has always been a flexible language - it seems to delight in word play such as

A for 'orses
B'eef or mutton
Seeforth Highlanders

F f' vescent

I'vor Novello

L f' Leather
M for sis
N 'velope
O for the Wings of a Dove

Q for a song
R f pound of sausages

T f' two
U f' me

W for quits

etc - can't remember them all - can anyone fill in the gaps

It would seem that political correctness in our language is not new. During the 19thC in America, a Capn F Marryat asked a young woman if she had hurt her leg in a fall. She replied that 'people did not use that word in America'. He apologised and asked what word would be suitable, as he (being English) was unfamiliar with American customs - 'Limbs' was the reply.

England too indulged in this orgy of prudery - It was during this time that conventional chicken terms were substituted with 'drumstick' 'white meat' etc and anything with 'cock' in it was considered beyond the pale - so haystack and rooster; bull was dropped in favour of sires or gentlemen cows. Buck and stallion were not used in mixed company.

Not quite as severe as Britain during 17thC when in 1623 an Act of Parliament was passed making it illegal to swear, culminating in the bizarre Act which made swearing at a parent punishable by death. Wonder if that one has been repealed yet.

14th Dec 2001, 05:33
I wonder if pronunciation has evolved like spelling has over the years. Until the late ninetenth century - spelling - was mostly a matter of what felt good to you and can you actually write it down. We have no audio recordings until the early part of the 20th century and have no idea what Abe Lincoln or Hannibal sounded like. I always answer the UK.

14th Dec 2001, 09:14
td... you missed yer calling mate! Ya shudda been a Geordie tour guide! :D

As for the rest of the discussion to date, there seems to be a belief here that William Shakespeare was just one person <jumps into fox hole> :eek:

[ 14 December 2001: Message edited by: OzExpat ]

14th Dec 2001, 13:13
Language is a fascinating subject, especially looking at the origins. Velvet quoted the Chaucer term for egg/eggs being ei and eieren. This comes from the Flemish influence rather like our modern use of the "en" ending for the plural of ox and child (kind/kinderen). The use of beck for a brook or stream also originates in this way. The English language is in fact a mixture which is still growing and evolving. Languages that are frozen for purity's sake are doomed to die.

tony draper
14th Dec 2001, 13:23
I read that the oldest words its possible to utter are "Eenee meenee minee mo", part of a very ancient counting sytem.

14th Dec 2001, 19:24
Was'nt saying it is the same - just that it is seen as the closest (least linguistic drift).

Words, love em. One of the best buy's I ever got was the OED - all 20+ volumes of it - from a toy shop for £400!

I like old job titles as well. Just were, for example, can you find a decent saggarmaker's bottom knocker these days?

[ 14 December 2001: Message edited by: ORAC ]

tony draper
14th Dec 2001, 20:10
I know, lots of Wheeltappers and Shunters on the dole now also. ;)

tony draper
14th Dec 2001, 22:29
Wow the OED in twenty volumes Mr O,my conflomberations at your trophalisumpitude. ;)

14th Dec 2001, 23:05
A serendipitous discovery leading to a copacetic conclusion.

If only one had an inamorata of callipygious rather than steatopygious aspect with which to share such a joy.

Gash Handlin
14th Dec 2001, 23:57
Fascinating stuff on the first page Mr D...
I don't suppose you know the origins of hoy, marra, spuggie and kets (throw, friend, sparrow and sweets to the un-initiated)

At work last week a scandinavian passport was handed in (cant remember which country). As with all good passports it had all the notes in English as well as the native language ;)

On the page for children it said "Bain ; Children" so I assume that's why we on the correct side of the Tyne call kids bairns.

(this is from memory so I've probably spelt Bain wrong before you Scands start correcting me :D)

bubba zanetti
15th Dec 2001, 00:11
Why you are all sounding like nothing more than a lot of boustrophedonic, engastrimyth and funambulic skimmingtons. Flibbertigibbets all.

[ 14 December 2001: Message edited by: bubba zanetti ]

tony draper
15th Dec 2001, 00:33
Lots of words in common use on Tyneside have disappeared in my lifetime.
Coin,- to turn
Dunsh,- to bump into.
Bool,- to free wheel unpowered motion.
Toddle,- to walk as a child.
Simmet,- Vest.
Oxtas,- armpits.
Pillock,- fool, or to take the mickey.
Plodge, - to walk in water or puddle.
Cacky, -err, number two's.
Screeve,- barrow or small horse drawn cart.
Charabang,- early omnibus.
Tich,- younger brother.

Wey wor tich, ya pilock yiv been plodging in the clarts agin and ya'r al claggy. ;)

Gash Handlin
15th Dec 2001, 01:02
how man, a still use af them words like, an a reckon am anly a third of yower age ya aad gadgie :D :D

15th Dec 2001, 01:18
anyone want to own up to being a slubberdegullion. I'm muliebrity, but fortunately have neither arachibutyrophobia nor crytoscopophilia.

15th Dec 2001, 01:30
Velvet. ok here we go.letters offered for your gaps but the ones in () are alternatives to yours:
C for yourself
D ferential
E'ave a brick
G'f of police
H cheer for the winner
J for oranges
K for huts (I do not understand this one)
(N) for eggs
P for a penny
(Q) for the pictures
(R)f a mo
'S for you
V ve la France
(W) for a bob
X for breakfast
Y for goodness sake
Z phyr breezes.

good eh? :rolleyes:

Charlie Foxtrot India
15th Dec 2001, 10:31
Maybe Queen Liz is the one who can be taken as the correct pronouncer of Inglish. Or the BT lady who does the recorded messages...or are they one and the same?

How about pronounciation of place names, should it be up to the locals how to pronounce it? My home town, Winchester, is often pronounced incorrectly, with the emphasis on the second syllable instead of the first. :mad: (but only by people from "north of the M4" *shiver*)
Here in Aus places that are named after English places are often pronounced differently, like Albany, Derby, things ending in -ham, like Rockingham, where the last syllable is pronounced "HAM: instead of "M" yet vistors from Ingland insist that the Aussies pronounce it wrong! Who is correct? And who knows how to pronounce GLENDALOUGH?

Aaaampshire borrrn, Aaaaaampshire bred, Strong in aaarm and thick in 'ead.

Kermit 180
15th Dec 2001, 10:38
Have some fush 'n chups and some mulk in inglund. Evrywon nos nu zelundas speek the best inglush. :p

tony draper
16th Dec 2001, 01:19
Il brilgue: les toves libricilleux
Se gyrent et frillant dans le guave,
Enmim'es sont les gougebosquex,
Et le momerade horgrave.


Nil nos tremefacit
16th Dec 2001, 03:17

Eenie, meenie, minie, mo is itself a corruption of eena, meena, mina, mo. Eena probably is one/un/ein etc.

Cf yan, tan, tetherum, petherum, pimp - Old Cumbric counting system still used into the sixties for counting sheep in Cumbria.

Fantom - K for huts is probably from kaffir huts. Kaffir, an Arabic word for foreigner, has been used in recent times in South Africa as a derogatory term for non-whites. Although kaffir can be pronounced phonetically it is often heard as keffir, kayffir, keffeer or kaffeer.

Chaucer spoke a middle English dialect as did Shakespeare (from Warwickshire not West Midlands as the new county is called). I recall non-Brummie Warwickshire dialects being spoken around Henley-in-Arden, Kenilworth, Bidford and Stratford in the early sixties. Brummie and it's associated Black Country/North Warwickshire variants may have share origins with Shakespeare's English, but it does seem distinct from the mid-Warwickshire words I recall. Anybody else say 'donny' for hand, 'batch' for bread roll?

16th Dec 2001, 06:42

Your Cumbrian counting system is as near as darn it, Welsh.

18th Dec 2001, 07:00
This is absolutely fascinating and long may it continue.
But where are the aeroplanes?
I would have written this in one of those regional dialects but, sadly, I don't know any.
I come from "oop north" and find it impossible to speak like a Londoner.
However, I have no problem being understood by the majority of people I meet around the World.
There is a middle of the road English, maybe influenced by Hollywood, maybe by the BBC, maybe by a need to communicate, which has led to a language which, more than any, allows us to understand one another across the Globe.
That doesn't mean that I don't get fun and enjoyment from regional accents that I more or less understand.
I am glad that my Cypriot wife, over our 27 years, has come to understand my playful use of local dialect and, yes, I know quite a bit of Cypriot Greek too.
Errrm you may detect a dichotomy between the the top and the bottom of my post.
I don't speak an authentic dialect but I know enough to tease my wife or to feel at home with my neighbours.