From: Peter Kirk (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Feb 04 2004 - 05:50:13 EST
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (personal) email@example.com (work) http://www.qaya.org/
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