Do you know how to say these strange Suffolk place names correctly?

PUBLISHED: 09:44 04 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:09 05 October 2020

How many of these Suffolk place names do you say correctly? Picture: ARCHANT

How many of these Suffolk place names do you say correctly? Picture: ARCHANT


It is not always wise to say what you see, as many villages and towns in Suffolk are not pronounced how they are written.

Charlie Haylock is an expert of the Suffolk dialect. Picture: FRIENDS OF THURSTON LIBRARYCharlie Haylock is an expert of the Suffolk dialect. Picture: FRIENDS OF THURSTON LIBRARY

Visitors to Suffolk – and even some locals – are often left baffled at how to pronounce place names in the county, such as Grundisburgh and Dunwich.

Here’s a list of some the most commonly mispronounced place names, with a guide of how they should be said. Do you say them correctly?

• Grundisburgh is pronounced ‘Gruns-bra’• Hollesley is pronounced ‘Hoze-lee’• Wenhaston is pronounced ‘Wenner-st’n’• Debach is pronounced ‘Debbidge or Debbich’• Gisleham is pronounced ‘Gizz-l’m’• Thorpe Morieux is pronounced ‘Thorp M’roo’• Hoxne is pronounced ‘Hox-un’• Onehouse is pronounced ‘One-uss’
• Wenhaston is pronounced ‘Wenuston’• Bromeswell is pronounced ‘Broom-sw’l’• Dunwich is pronounced ‘Dunn-idge’• Pettaugh is pronounced ‘Petter’• Ellough is pronounced ‘Ella’• Blythburgh is pronounced ‘Bly-th-bruh’• Monewden is pronounced ‘Mon-dun’

Charlie Haylock, a master of Suffolk dialect, said there is a lot of confusion over a number of place names in Suffolk.

He said the English language started here in Suffolk, referring to the Anglo-Saxon heritage of Sutton Hoo.

“The Suffolk pronunciation is closer to the Anglo-Saxon pronunciation than standard English,” he said.

“In the 1700s when the dutch cartographers were employed they were paid by the letter, so they added extra letters in to place names. That’s why ‘Drinkston’ became Drinkstone and ‘Edwardston’ became ‘Edwardstone’.”

Mr Haylock explained that ‘W’ is an English invention, that’s why August for example is written as Avgvst in Suffolk churches.

“There has never been an official standard English so there is no consistency,” explained Mr Haylock. “The only consistency is how inconsistent it is.”

He added: “The Suffolk dialect is a very ancient pronunciation of place names, but then standard English sadly took over.”

He said Sudbury is pronounced ‘Subbree’ by locals, Long Melford is pronounced ‘Long Melfort’ and ‘Lowstoff’ is used by people who live in the town instead of Lowestoft.

‘Kesgraf’ is the Suffolk way of saying Kesgrave, explains Mr Haylock.

His latest book, ‘In a Manner of Speaking’, looks at the evolution of language we all speak today and discusses why we have so many dialects, why it is that we don’t all speak standard English and how our history has shaped our native tongue.

You can find out more about Mr Haylock and his new book here.

Which Suffolk villages and towns do you often hear people getting wrong? Let us know in the comments below.

MORE: Do you recognise these old Suffolk words and phrases?

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