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OT: YAEPT: Sound changes in English place names

From:David McCann <david@...>
Date:Friday, March 28, 2008, 16:40
Tristan wrote
> rs -> s was completely regular in a dialect that contributed some to > American English e.g. burst -> bust, curse -> cuss, arse -> ass.
Actually, you've got two different things here. The loss of "r" in "arse" is part of the general loss in SE England, New England, and the Old South. But in those dialects "burst" was /b@st/ by the 17th century, and "bust" appears in the USA in the 18th with the "wrong" vowel: it's obviously a slang form recreated on the basis of the spelling, as is "cuss". Worcester is an odd case. Most special pronunciations of placenames are local, but the dialect of Worcestershire retained the /r/. If you like weird placenames, try Norfolk: Wymondham /windm/, Cley /klai/, Stiffkey /styuki/, etc. A lot of that has gone now, sad to say. I was brought up (50s) to say /sisit@/ for Cirencester, but when I went there (70s) the townspeople said /sai@rnsester/ and the upper classes familiarly /sair@n/.