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I'm aware that the English county of Worcestershire is pronounced in Britain as ['wu:stəʃə], more or less. However, this is a non-rhotic pronunciation, and it feels very unnatural for me to use this pronunciation when speaking in my native dialect. There are three /r/s in the spelling, and it seems like at least some of those should be reflected in the pronunciation. What is an appropriate way for a rhotic English speaker to pronounce the name?

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Ehm, might it not be better if you asked about a possible way for a rhotic speaker to pronounce it? And are you specifically looking for local pronunciations, i.e. British? P.S. "My native dialect" sounds so funny, almost an inside-out perspective. –  Cerberus Dec 24 '10 at 1:55
    
Missed this post earlier, seen just now. Rhoticity apart, place names should preferably, (and names of people should necessarily,) be pronounced exactly as they are defined for the place (and by the person). I don't think you'd like someone pronouncing your name the way they believe it should be. –  Kris Dec 1 '13 at 6:15

5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Merriam-Webster (usually a good guide for rhotic US accents) gives \ˈwu̇s-tə(r)-ˌshir, -shər also -ˌshī(-ə)r\.  The OED doesn’t give a rhotic alternative at all, just /ˈwʊstəʃə(r)/.  Checking a few random other sources, I can’t find any suggesting that the first r should be pronounced.

I’d guess (fairly confidently) that a rhotic BrE speaker would say /ˈwʊstərʃər/ or /-ʃɪər/.  Using /-ʃaɪər/ (Merriam-Webster’s \-ˌshī(-ə)r\) for the suffix -shire is strongly marked as an Americanism, to my ear, though I don’t know a source to back this up.

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How dare you quote Merriam-Webster for a British word! :O –  Noldorin Dec 24 '10 at 16:34
    
@Noldorin: I wouldn’t have (or at least, not as the first suggestion) if I knew a good source which included any British rhotic pronunciations. :-P Anyone know of one, preferably but not necessarily online? –  PLL Dec 24 '10 at 22:23
    
I tease you. :) There are plenty of regional English accents (particularly West Country) that use a rhotic accent - perhaps a dictionary of regional British dialects? Not that I know any heh! –  Noldorin Dec 24 '10 at 23:18
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Ironically, a person from Worcestershire would most likely say something like /ˈwʊstərʃər/ - certainly someone from neighbouring Gloucestershire would. –  Marcin Apr 17 '11 at 16:38
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I'm American, and I don't think I have ever heard anybody pronounce Worcestershire sauce /ˈwʊstərʃaɪ(ə)r/. It's either completely mangled, like /'wɔrtʃɛstərʃaɪ(e)r/, or it's pronounced /ˈwʊstərʃi(ə)r/ or /ˈwʊstərʃər/. –  Peter Shor Dec 23 '13 at 13:41

The 'R' in 'Wuster' isn't so exaggerated but it could well be depending the individuals tone, if he/she leans more to the south (Herefordshire/Gloucestershire) or north (Birmingham). A typical example of exaggerating and including the 'R' would be "did you" and "did yerr" and "never" would be "neverr" using a rural twang. To people north and south of England while at University they thought of me as an especially lazy Brummie/Black Country talker and a local to Wolverhampton even though I live in Worcester City. The Worcester accent could be considered a lazy one in the sense we come across to people that we could probably formalise our tone if required and stop shortening words. "But it 'ent' that easy." 'Ent' for example is a local word I've not heard used elsewhere in the UK, it's used in our dialect for; ain't, isn't, hasn't (as if any of those words need shortening).

Hope this helps and apologies for my lack of IPA.

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I'm from Worcester, I was born in Worcester. Common Worcester is a hybrid dialect of rural West Country with a substantial hint of Brummie/Black Country. Locals including myself naturally exaggerate R's or include invisible R's at the end of many words. The prenounciation for locals and yourself should simply be 'Wuster'. (Wuss-ter) 'Wustershear'.

Easy. Simple as that.

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Is that r at the end of your pronunciation examples pronounced (exaggerated) or not? (One reason to use IPA: it makes it clear.) –  Andrew Leach Nov 27 '13 at 7:54

The pronunciations reported by the NOAD are /ˈwʊstərʃɪ(ə)r/, /ˈwʊstərʃaɪ(ə)r/. Having a friend who lives on Long Islang, I am used to the first pronunciation.

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I don't remember my phonetic symbols brilliantly so I'll try this (mostly) without - as a native Briton I can tell you it's (roughly)

Woostəshə

(the "oo" being that of "look" not "food" or "zoo")

or, less commonly, just "Woostə"

That is, in the local accent. I can't speak for the whole of Britain.

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You've missed the point. I know what the local pronunciation is, but I'm interested in trying to adapt that pronunciation for a rhotic (American) accent. –  JSBձոգչ Dec 24 '10 at 15:38

protected by Andrew Leach Oct 25 at 20:05

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