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How many syllables are in the name Coleridge - two or three?

I.e. is it [koʊləɹɪdʒ] or [koʊlɹɪdʒ]?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

From Coleridge himself, we have

Parry seeks the Polar Ridge, Rhymes seek S.T. Coleridge,


Could you stand upon Skiddaw, you would not from its whole ridge
See a man who so loves you as your fond S. T. Coleridge.

so either put the schwa in, or leave it out, depending on which way fits the meter.

UPDATE: Coleridge seems to have settled the matter decisively himself in this note where he says his name is a "trisyllabic amphimacer," so [ˈkoʊləˌɹɪdʒ]. But maybe not. From Google Books, I found

"A gentleman, who was perhaps more intimate with S. T. Coleridge than any one now living, informs me that, in ordinary conversation, the poet would certainly have called himself Cole-ridge, and would so have pronounced the word, if he had been officially asked to give his name. My informant never heard the word pronounced as a trisyllable, either by Coleridge himself or by his friends.

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Interesting argument. I don't know enough about him to know, but do you think either one of those rhymes could be a playful poetic gesture, the other being the "real" pronunciation? A thing to consider is that the l is lengthened before d in any case, resulting in a long sound: it's actually quite hard to hear whether there is a schwa or merely a long l... – Cerberus Jun 21 '11 at 4:34
@Cerberus: I don't know enough about him, either. – Peter Shor Jun 21 '11 at 4:38
Now I'm not sure any more. My source (in my answer) says all older dictionaries say coal-ridge, but your quote from the man himself looks convincing as well. Could it be that he was speaking is jest in that quote? We'd need to get a hold of the letter to check the context... – Cerberus Jun 21 '11 at 5:14
+1 for the sheer effort you put in over a humble schwa. That is dedication. ^_^ – Robusto Jun 21 '11 at 12:51

It appears there are several schools: cōl-ridge, cō-lĕ-ridge, and cŏ-lĕ-ridge. It seems his name was pronounced cōl-ridge in his own time; there is no schwa after the r, and it has only two syllables: "coal-ridge" (in IPA: /'kəʊlɹɪdʒ/ or /'koʊlɹɪdʒ/).

Dictionary.com has [kohl-rij]. Wikipedia has /ˈkoʊlrɪdʒ/.

Dictionary.com also has a link to pronunciation (American) in sound, as do Howjsay (British) and Forvo (British and American).

The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations: The Complete Opinionated Guide for the Careful Speaker by Ch. H. Elster (2006) explains that his name is often mispronounced:

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The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary disagrees. – Peter Shor Jun 21 '11 at 3:59
that's a great book. I looked at some of the other entries in it. Anyway, I think we can at least say that collar ridge is wrong. – Peter Shor Jun 21 '11 at 5:16
It appears that at times in his life, Coleridge didn't like his first name, so he wanted to be called S.T. One possibility is that Coleridge didn't like the way his parents pronounced his last name, so he decided to pronounce it differently. This would mean that both pronunciations could be right (for various senses of right, of course). There do seem to be contemporaries of Coleridge who attest that his name was generally pronounced coal ridge: – Peter Shor Jun 21 '11 at 12:31
@PeterShor: Hmm that could be it: perhaps cōl-ridge didn't sound as high born as he liked... – Cerberus Jun 21 '11 at 23:54

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