This morning Sky News TV has despatched an intrepid reporter to Marlborough in Wiltshire to report live on the snowy weather conditions there. Since early morning he has been interviewing a string of locals about the disruption the snow is causing. Without exception they have pronounced the name of their town as ˈmɔːlb(ə)rə. Despite this, the reporter has persisted in using the spelling pronunciation ˈmɑːlb(ə)rə, and he uses it every few minutes.
Perhaps he is a smoker, or ex-smoker, and is influenced by the American brand of cigarette, Marlboro, which does usually seem to be pronounced with ɑː.
Mind you, just why the usual BrE pronunciation of Marlborough — town, duke, college, street or house in London — has ɔː rather than ɑː is a question to which I don’t know the answer. Etymologically it was the hill or mound either named after a man called *Mǣrla or because gentian grew there, OE meargealla.
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A correspondent who shall remain nameless has sent me a number of emails in recent weeks asking various fairly elementary questions. I have been patiently answering him, but yesterday I finally ventured to suggest that instead of sending me emails he should buy LPD, since the information he is looking for can easily be found there or in other published works. Indignantly he replies today that he has the CD version of the dictionary, and asking if the printed book contains something that the CD doesn’t. The answer is no: but a more important point is that the CD is not sold independently of the printed book. That means that if he has the CD but not the book then his CD must be a pirated copy. By using a pirated copy he is indirectly depriving me, the author, of income. I shall not waste any more time answering his emails.