Londoners are used to hearing American (or other overseas) visitors struggling with what to us are very familiar names such as Leicester ˈlestə(r). We fail to realize how far from transparent the spelling is in such cases.
Sometimes, though, it’s we Brits who are caught out by American names whose spoken form is just as surprising, in view of the spellinɡ. We may know about Houston and even Poughkeepsie pəˈkɪpsi — but I was brought up short recently by Ashtabula, Ohio.
Given the antepenultimate stress of nebula and fibula, not to mention tabulate, I think I might be forgiven for expecting this name to be stressed on the tæb syllable. But it isn’t: it’s actually ˌæʃtəˈbjuːlə. (Thanks to Michael Ashby for this one. I’d better add it to LPD.)
I wonder if anyone can tell us how Temecula, California, is pronounced.
A British name that caught my attention recently is that of the village of Wadeford in Somerset. In a news report about flooding I’m sure I heard a local refer to it as ˈwɒdɪfəd. The BBC Pronunciation Unit tells me, however, that
according to the parish council clerk, that is an older local pronunciation which isn’t used quite as much now; most locals prefer ˈwɒdfəd.Anyway, it’s certainly not the *ˈweɪdfəd that the spelling would seem to suggest.