pronunciation: Greenhalgh

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Macunaíma, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. Macunaíma

    Macunaíma Senior Member

    Um ninho de mafagalfinhos
    português, Brasil
    I found this article on Wikipedia that baffled me: list of names in English with counterintuitive pronunciations. All I thought I knew about the pronunciation of English names of towns, for example, went down the drain. I was growing accustomed to 'oddities' like Worcestershire, Shrewsbury, Hereford, Greenwich, Grosvenor, Arkansas, etc., but the pronunciations of place names like Barnstaple, Cholmondeley, Leigh, Loughborough, Mildenhall, Wymondham, etc. were just too much for me to handle! But leaving place names aside and moving to people's names, I came across this one that intrigued me: Greenhalgh is the family name of a Brazilian politician that's quite often in the news and here his name is pronounced like greenhall (as close to an English pronunciation as possible). The article says, though, that it's pronounced by English speakers (to the extent that they can agree on such unusual pronunciation/spelling) as greenhalge (a as in bad and ge as a French or Portuguese j) or greenhalsh. I'm curious to know from native speakers of English is what pronunciation they would use for this name.

    Thanks for your reply

  2. xqby

    xqby Senior Member

    Oxnard, CA
    English (U.S.)
    I'd pronounce it with the "gh" silent as well, it's certainly the logical assumption.

    Anyways, telling British people that we'd love to visit "Warchester-shire" just to watch them cringe is sort of a national sport; mispronouncing weird names isn't exactly surprising among native speakers. Knowing that you're supposed to pronounce things like that as "-halsh" is something you'd have to be told. I'd certainly tell people about "that Greenhall fellow" until someone asked me what I was going on about.
  3. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    Greenhalgh is a very common surname in Lancashire where I come from. (There's a small chain of bakers of that name in the North West: they make the most divine cheese and onion pies.) To me it's green-olsh /'gri:nɒl/, though if I was being very careful I'd pronounce the h in the middle.
  4. Macunaíma

    Macunaíma Senior Member

    Um ninho de mafagalfinhos
    português, Brasil
    I think that the pronunciation of proper names in English are determined more by tradition (how it's been pronounced over the years/centuries) than by their spelling. How else could you explain that there are two towns in England named Cambridge, each pronounced differently ( Cam- as in name and Cam- as in ham). Or perhaps it's not their pronunciation that is counterintuitive, but the reverse: the spelling is counterintuitive. I would never ever guess that green-olsh was actually Greenhalgh if I heard someone say it.
  5. spb Senior Member

    As Ewie says, Greenhalgh originates from the Lancashire region, so I won't argue with the correctness of his pronunciation. But when I was being brought up to speak the Queen's English (rather a long time ago!) in the south of England we would have pronounced it 'Greenhalj' with the j soft like it is in French - and definitely with the h pronounced.
    It would be nice if a Greenhalgh could tell us how they pronounce it!
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello to spb - and a warm welcome to WordReference :)

    I phoned one.
    Just as ewie explained in post #3 though with a very definite h - ewie in a careful moment.
    I phoned another.
    I remember one that I used to work with:
    I looked up
    ... now there's a cunning plan :)
  7. Herbert Thornton

    Herbert Thornton New Member

    I grew up in Lancashire, near Garstang. Everybody there pronounced the personal name Greenhalgh as green-olsh. However, at the north end of Garstang there are the remains of what was was once a castle called Greenhalgh Castle. Everbody in Garstang called it "Greener" Castle and I assume they still do.

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