Re: interesting SIL-document

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Wed Feb 04 2004 - 05:50:13 EST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: interesting SIL-document"

    On 04/02/2004 02:13, Andrew C. West wrote:

    >On Tue, 03 Feb 2004 10:53:40 -0800, Peter Kirk wrote:
    >>There are minimal pairs at the
    >>syllable level between the British pronounciation of Birmingham (silent
    >>h, stress on first syllable only) and many similar -ingham names, and
    >>(rarer) place names like Odiham (Hampshire) - although I suspect the h
    >>tends to be silent in the latter.
    >Pronounced "odium" locally. Offhand I can't think of any English placenames with
    >a -ham suffix that don't have a silent "h" (Farnham, Fareham, Wokingham ...),
    >although "h" is generaly pronounced in other common placename suffixes such as
    >-hampton and -hurst.
    I guess you are right, except of course for West Ham etc where -ham is
    not a suffix but the main word. (No doubt the h in Westham, Sussex is
    silent.) Well, the West Ham locals probably don't pronounce the h as
    they drop all h's, but it is pronounced in the football reports.

    The h in -ham doesn't even affect the pronunciation of a preceding s or
    t, which usually remains [s], [z] or [t]. Contrast Witham, Essex, [wɪtm̩]
    , with the river Witham in Lincolnshire [wɪðm̩], but this may not be the
    -ham suffix at all. (Or maybe it is local dialect; Grantham, Lincs also
    has an interdental fricative [θ] but this is probably originally Grant-ham.)

    As for Birmingham, I like the idea of analysing it as a monosyllable
    [bəmŋm] although I would tend to think of the eng and the second m as
    syllabic, but there is then a near minimal pair with the interjection
    [mhm] meaning "no".

    Peter Kirk (personal) (work)

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