While it’s certainly managed to position itself as the access language to the rest of the world over the years, with a total of 378 million native speakers and 743 million non-native speakers currently dotted across the globe, there’s no denying it’s a tricky one to pick up.
This 1,400 year old West Germanic language – with close to 50 regional dialect variations in just the UK alone – gives even native speakers many a chance to slip up in their pronunciations from time to time.
Nothing illustrates this more perfectly that the pronunciations of place / location names.
Here in Greater Manchester, our ten boroughs are filled with place names that commonly get mispronounced by anyone other than local residents, so we’ve picked out 10 that are most likely to catch people out.
Let’s set the record straight.
This area of Bolton is often known to catch even some of the borough’s residents out themselves, so don’t worry if you’re confused by it.
While many would presume it’s ‘dawb-hill / dowb-hill’, it’s actually closer to /dobble/.
Another one where you’ll need to ignore the way it’s spelled if you want to pronounce it correctly, as it’s not ‘black-ly’ like the colour.
It’s /blake-ly/ instead.
This pronunciation may be a little easier to have a crack at first time round if you’re familiar with other similar words and place names across the country.
Think Keswick, Warwick, Alnwick and so on.
Basically, the ‘w’ is silent, just forget it’s there – it’s pronounced /bez-ick/.
If we take this Oldham place name, most of us not from the area would likely split the word into two and presume it’s pronounced the same as ‘green’ and ‘acres’ – but we’d be wrong.
In reality, locals tend to pronounce it as /grin-ickers/.
This one’s a pretty common word name in the Manchester borough.
Whether it’s used for the area of Hulme itself, or as a suffix to other areas such as Levenshulme, Davyhulme, Cheadle Hulme and so on, people often have trouble pronouncing it.
If you want to get it right, you’ll need to ignore the fact there’s an ‘l’ in there, as it’s silent.
It’s pronounced more like /hewm/.
If we’re talking about pronunciations that don’t make sense, this one’s got to be up there.
The affluent Trafford town attracts crowds from far and wide, and those crowds probably all pronounced the name incorrectly on the first try.
That ‘ch’ sound is actually pronounced as ‘g’.
So rather than it being ‘Altrin-ch-am’ or ‘Altrin-kam’, the pronunciation is actually closer to /oltrin-gum/ instead.
We’re convinced they stuck the ‘u’ in this place name for fun as a way to trip people up when they try to pronounce it.
For some reason, it’s actually just pronounced /bag-ly/.
8. Whalley Range
No, we’re not referring to the second word in this particular place name, luckily that’s pronounced exactly as you’d expect.
Whalley, on the other hand, can cause some slip-ups as it’s another case of a silent letter creeping into a spelling and confusing matters, so you’ll want to ignore the fact there’s a ‘h’ in there, and pronounce it closer to /wall-y/.
This isn’t to be confused with the neighbouring Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge either, as that one’s pronounced /wayl-y/.
9. The Haulgh
Yet another Bolton place name that catches even the best of us out.
By looking at the spelling of this one, it’d be easy for most of us Northerners to presume it’s pronounced ‘halsh’ thanks to the popular local bakery chain Greenhalgh’s – which is also a common surname – but again, we’d be wrong.
It’s pronounced the /hoff/.
We had to stick one that’s a bit up for debate on this list, didn’t we?
In the case of this Greater Manchester borough, the pronunciation of the name is very much open for interpretation depending on who you ask, and whoever you ask is likely to be very adamant that their pronunciation is correct too.
It’s either /burry/ or /berry/ – and if we’re honest, the latter is more commonly used.
BONUS – Godmanchester
Okay, so this one isn’t in Greater Manchester at all, it’s actually a little town that lies in Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, but we obviously don’t need to explain why we’ve chosen to stick it on the end of this list.
What we do need to explain is how it’s pronounced, though.
Us Mancunians only need to take one look at this place name to presume it’s pronounced /god-man-chester/, like our wonderful city, just with ‘god’ added in front, but we’d couldn’t be further from correct.
It’s actually pronounced /gum-ster/.
Why it’s pronounced that way is simply down to regional dialect and nothing else – we can’t really explain it.
Drivers could be fined for using common ‘thank you gestures’ on UK roads
Motorists are being warned that some common unspoken rules of the road could actually see them hit with a hefty fine.
Given that us Brits are known for our manners and being polite, it has become common practice for drivers across the country to use a number of popular gestures to say thank you to our fellow road users when they give way to us, let us into a junction or lane, or just generally do something to help us out on the road.
A quick wave, thumbs up, or a flash of the headlights takes just a second to do, but the kindness goes a long way and helps to keep the peace.
In fact, when another driver doesn’t say thank you, we tend to think it’s pretty rude.
To prove this point, a new study of UK drivers was conducted by National Tyres and Autocare, and it found that one in five drivers choose to flash their headlights to say thanks, while one in three like to give a classic wave, and then one in six opt for a simple thumbs up.
But did you know that some of these gestures are actually in breach of the Highway Code and could end up landing us in a bit of trouble and see us have to fork out money if we’re caught in the act?
In some cases, fines can rack up as high as £1,000.
When it comes to flashing our headlights to say thank you, rule 110 of the Highway Code actually states that we should “only flash headlights to let other road users know that you are there”, and we should not do not flash them to “convey any other message or intimidate other road users”.
Using hazard lights is another common way to say thank you, but again, according to rule 116 of the Highway code: “You must not use hazard warning lights while driving or being towed unless you are on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and you need to warn drivers behind you of a hazard or obstruction ahead.”
It’s stated that we should only use hazard lights “for long enough to ensure that your warning has been observed”, and nothing more.
By far the most common way to say thank you on the road during the daytime is to give a classic wave or thumbs up, but according to rule 160 of the Highway Code, once moving a vehicle you should “drive or ride with both hands on the wheel or handlebars where possible as this will help you to remain in full control of the vehicle at all times”.
It adds: “You may use driver assistance systems while you are driving but make sure you use any system according to the manufacturer’s instructions.”
The latter of these common thank you gestures is the one that could land drivers in the most trouble if caught, as not only can fines rack up to £1,000, but being in breach of having proper control of your vehicle could also mean discretionary disqualification, and three penalty points on your licence as well.
A Manc photographer is taking beautiful on-the-spot portraits around the city
There are about a hundred and one brilliant photographers taking pictures around the city centre every day, but most of them tend to focus on the macro scale of things — snapping our lovely architecture, long shots of our rain-soaked streets, parades of morning commuters and so on.
So, when we stumbled across this lovely little TikTok account showcasing some of the most simple but beautiful portraits you’ll see anywhere online, all taken around the streets of our beloved city, it understandably caught our attention.
Manc photographer Scott James, or ‘certigrammer‘ as he goes by online, makes his living doing everything from weddings and commercials shoots to music videos, taking photos for Sheffield United and more, but we happened to come across a more recent pastime of his: taking pictures of strangers.
People are clearly chiming with his casual, understated and fundamentally wholesome style. So are we, and it’s not hard to see why.
Perhaps most impressively, it seems like he’s only been at this particular kind of photography for a little over a week and is already pulling in thousands of well-earned views across his social media.
As you can see, there is a very candid nature to his approach; he snaps people just going about their business and even when he stops people on the spot and asks if they’d be willing to pose, he still manages to capture that impromptu and organic vibe.
From happy couples and randomers on the street, to complimenting an old boy on his style, he photographs people from all walks of life.