Tuesday, July 14, 2009


It is spelled "GLOUCESTER," but it is pronounced, "GLOSTER."

British spelling is certainly confusing for most Americans, and perhaps it works the other way too. One explanation for the difference in spelling and pronounciation is that England, when it standardized its spelling in the 1800's, opted for the Norman or Anglo-French spellings.

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That might explain the differences in spelling, but what about pronounciation? I am not sure, but I have a guess. Walking around listening to English as it is spoken in different parts of the country, I notice a wide variation in pronounciation. (Shades of My Fair Lady and Henry Higgins.) I also notice a tendency to contract words when pronouncing them. Even Shakespeare did this. (Look at the quote of the Earl of Gloucester in a previous blog.)

Here is a concrete example. The word "bedlam" was originally the word "Bethlahem." "Bedlam" is how it was pronounced. "Bethlahem" hospital or "bedlam" (as it was pronounced) was the name of a lunatic asylum where, as you might 'ave guessed, things were a little crazy.

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