Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Useful tidbit

As I don't have a TV, occasionally I risk mispronouncing names or peculiar words that I have only seen in written form. So I am relieved to have discovered (before making a gaffe) that Sir Menzies Campbell's name is pronounced "Mingis" (via Harry's Place):
Blame the "yogh", a letter in old English and Scots (see image, right) which has no exact equivalent today.
Pronounced "yog", it used to be written a bit like the old copperplate-style "z" with a tail, which helps explain the discrepancy between the spelling of Menzies and the pronunciation.
The rise of printing in the 16th Century coincided with the decline of the yogh, and so it tended to be rendered in print as a "z", and pronounced as such.
Amazingly, getting the pronounciation exactly right is even more difficult: read the rest of the explanation!

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