I got into a discussion with my long-time friend Michael Hutchinson, in the UK, via Skype – if you don’t know Skype, you’ve missed the boat – and we exchanged strange pronunciations of words. You might know that the place name Leicester is pronounced – by the English – as “Lester,” and Worcester becomes Wooster” when spoken. Michael provided these:

Family names:

Cholmondley – "Chumley"

Featherstonehaulgh – "Fanshaw"

Colquhoon – "Cahoon"

Beauchamp – "Beecham"

Place names:

Leominster – "Lemster"

Milngavie – "Mulguy"

Gateacre – "Gattacka"

Kirkcudbright – “Kirkoobrey”

Strathaven – “Straven”

Mousehole – “Mowzel”

Fowey – “Foy”

Colleges in Cambridge:

Caius and Magdelene – "Keys" and "Maudlin"

And both a place and a family name:

Beaulieu – "Bewley"

The best part is that Michael headed his list: “Here is a list of names and how they are pronced” and signed it, “Mial.”

These English...