The English language has been derived from many languages which have never been returned to their source. Through the Middle Ages it had numerous changes due to the fact that people stayed very close to the place where they were born. Hence we have many dialects that grew up in the English countryside together with their own words and sayings. As these people were short in literacy, in both reading and the written word, writing and spelling tended to be phonic. They were lazy in the spoken word, almost a form of spoken shorthand, as an example:
Today we would ask, "May I ask where you are going to?" The question would have been. "Where be to?"
This shorthand speech can still be found in Newfoundland and the Southwest of England. The New England States of America have traces of Elizabethan English and pronunciation of that time. The same can be said of the French spoken in the province of Quebec as being of a strong Breton origin.
This section will give you a cross-section of words that are quite often mispronounced in today's speech. Here are a few to start with:
To avoid confusion of the word "Shire," when it is used as a suffix of a county it is pronounced "Shear." On the other hand, when used collectively as in the phrase, "Where in the shires do you hail from?" it stands on its own as written.
Leicester is pronounced Les-stir not as Lie-ces-ter
Worcestershire is pronounced Woo-stir-shear not as
Berkshire is pronounced Bark-shear not as Berk-shire
Gloucester is pronounced Glos-stir not as Glow-ces-ter
Socrates is pronounced Sock-ra-tees not as So-cra-tees
Buoy is pronounced Boi not as Boo-ee
Trafalgar is pronounced Tra-fal-gar not as Trafal-gar
Towcester is pronounced Toaster not as Tow-ces-ter
Throughout England, you will find many places that end in "Ham". A ham is a low-lying area found usually beside a river or brook. Here also you may find a loose collection of houses or farms, hence the name "Hamlet" Some of these hamlets are given names that end in ham as in the name for instance Cookham. When pronounced properly you drop the "h" in ham as in Cookam and not as many do, as "Cook-ham".
Other words will be added from time to time. Or, you may write and ask the pronunciation of any word that you choose and we will add it to the list.