----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Odegard
To: phoNet@egroups.com
Sent: Monday, April 24, 2000 2:06 AM
Subject: Re: [phoNet] English by the book.

Well, the spelling of British placenames may reflect the pronunciation used at the time the Domesday Book was compiled. Cholmondeley was Old English Ceolmundes Leah, abbreviated phonetically over the centuries. One could say that far from being a crime against English, the pronunciation "Chumly" sums up a millennium of historical development and its striking divergence from the fossilised spelling only reminds you of the awesome historical depth of English as a written language. Being an antiquarian at heart, like most historical linguists, I can't help sympathising with the British and the perverse pride they take in traditional pronunciations that don't match the spelling at all. But even British traditions sometimes yield an inch (not to say centimetre) or two. Quite a few spellings have caught up with the pronunciation (Beorhthelmes Tun is now spelt Brighton, not Brighthelmston, though I've seen something like the latter on some eighteenth-century maps); still more often the pronunciation has been reformed to fit the spelling (Pontefract is no longer pronounced "Pumfrit" even locally).

Quirky British realizations of place and proper names are are source of transpondential humor. The classic is how the Marquess of Cholmondeley realizes "Cholmondeley" ('chumly'). The realization of 'Featherstonehaugh' as 'fanshaw' is another one.
... Getting back to my thesis,  I can say that the 'by the book-ness' of American English reflects to some degree my own English. If a word has a letter, that letter should be pronounced. Words like 'knot' are slightly disturbing, while words such as 'balm', 'calm' are quite disturbing to one's linguistic maps. Doing "Cholmondeley" as 'chumley' strikes us as a crime against the language.