Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 10 January 2006

On the pronunciation of 'Menzies'

There has been quite a lot of comment in the past few days about the correct way to pronounce this name, because of the possibility (probability?) that Sir Menzies Campbell MP may become the next Leader of the Liberal Democrats, to replace Mr Charles Kennedy MP who resigned from the position last week as the culmination of a long period of doubts raised within his Party about the continuing wisdom of him remaining.

I have not commented in this blog before, and I am not going to start now, about what is a matter solely for a Party which is (in my opinion) highly unlikely ever to achieve power in the whole of the UK during my lifetime, even should I succeed in living for several more decades.

This BBC article does, however, contain quite a lot of interesting information about the ways some names such as Menzies can be pronounced, and why. It ends with an amusing poem, which I quote in case you do not see the article yourself:

A lively young damsel named Menzies
Inquired: "Do you know what this thenzies?"
Her aunt, with a gasp,
Replied: "It's a wasp,
And you're holding the end where the stenzies."

- it illustrates quite neatly a lot of the pitfalls awaiting speakers of modern English when confronted with words based on old English or Scots.

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