Monday, 26 July 2010

More on the subject of one syllable...

Additional to my recent comments on the longest word with only one syllable .....

I found an article suggesting those most commonly cited are screeched (nine letters), scratched, scrounged, scrunched, and stretched. Other sources suggest Oxford English Dictionary also has scraughed, scrinched, scritched, scrooched, sprainged, spreathed, throughed, and thrutched. It includes, too, a single instance of the ten-letter word scraunched, from the 1620 English translation of Don Quixote, a novel by the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. Yet I cannot see how the suffix -ed can be anything but a syllable in its own right. Thus I suggest the plural nouns straights and strengths (nine letters) are the longest.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

More on the subject of no vowels....

Additional to my recent comments on the longest word without a vowel .....

Words without vowels
A large number of Modern English words replace the 'ee' or 'eye' sound with the letter Y, such as try, sky, why, gym, hymn, lynx, myth, myrrh, pygmy, flyby, and syzygy. The longest such word in common use is rhythms, and the longest such word in Modern English is the obsolete 17th-century word symphysy. (If archaic words and spellings are considered, there are many more, the longest perhaps being twyndyllyngs, the plural of twyndyllyng.)
In the computer game The 7th Guest, one of the puzzles involves a vowelless sentence,
Shy gypsy slyly spryly tryst by my crypt.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A Matter of Opinion

Never fails to amaze how two people can read the same book and come to completely different conclusions. A reviewer of my Black Country Ghosts from The History Press purchased the book through and later posted a review:

However across the Atlantic a second customer purchased the book through and later gave a different opion:

Two things come to mind. Firstly it is a pity the two reviews cannot be linked to appear on the same page whether views on or .com. And of course there is also a greater likelihood of a review for those who are dissatisfied. Thus budding authors, while taking comments on board, should also balance any criticism with the knowledge that there is probably a very satisfied and unseen reader out there.

Incidentally the dissatisfied customer who bought Black Country Ghosts in the UK may not have been quite as unhappy with my work as it seemed, for he later purchased another of my books. While they also went on to write a bad review of that second book, it did raise the point as to why a second book was purchased by the same author - unless, as I suspect, it was simply to give a bad review.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Mispronounced Place Names

As an author with an interest in place names it is often interesting to see the differences in pronunciation - a good example was Shrewsbury, discussed in my blog of November 2009. There are many other place names which are mispronounced ostensibly because, as with Shropshire's county town, the name was created at a time when the vast majority of the population were illiterate and the English dictionary did not yet exist. Hence those few individuals who could read and write were free to spell however they saw fit and not until the population were literate was the name read by those who had never heard it said (or who did not recognise the name) and therefore mispronounced. (Note these are examples of accepted pronunciation and nothing to do with local pronunciation or regional accents, which is an entirely different subject.)

Among the many (English) place names often mispronounced are:
Beaconsfield in Berkshire - which should be said 'beckon's-field'
Fowey in Somerset - is pronounced 'foy' (as in toy)
Alnwick in Northumberland - should be said as 'annick'
Alrewas in Staffordshire - should be 'allrus' (rhymes with walrus)
Tonbridge in Kent, Honiton in Devon, and Romsey in Hampshire - Tunbridge, Huniton, Rumsey
Derby and Derbyshire - it is 'darby'
Berkshire - is 'barkshire'
Towcester - is 'toaster'
Wymondham - 'windum'
Iwerne Minster and Iwerne Courtney - the basic name is said as 'yew earn'.
Todmorden - 'tod-muh-dun'
Mousehole - 'mow (as in how) zel'
Belvoir - 'beaver'
Leominster - 'lem-ster'

As I have stated several times, place names are rarely created by the occupants but by the neighbours - most are simply descriptions of the place. To those who live there it is simply 'home'. A couple of years ago I spoke on the subject of place name origins in the village of Parwich in Derbyshire. Not wishing to mispronounce the name and upset the locals before I'd even started I asked the audience how they pronounced it. While many outside Parwich pronounce it as 'pah-rich', those present responded with both 'pah - wich' and 'porrich'. This immediately brought some surprised looks and was something I found most interesting for it shows how the residents never used the name of the place when speaking to one another.