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Old 09-19-2009, 10:02 PM
Satyagrahi Satyagrahi is offline
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How do locals pronounce the name of the town of Cirencester in Gloucestershire?

I'm working on a novel set in 15th Century England and part of the action is set near the town of Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

Given that the readers of a text novel will pronounce names however they want, still, I'm finding it irksome not to have the correct pronunciation in mind as I'm writing.

Wikipedia says that Cirencester is pronounced as 'SYE-rən-ses-tər' but, given what the British do with names like Leicestershire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire, I find that hard to believe.

I'll go with however local residents choose to pronounce it today.

Can anyone help? Thanks!
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Old 09-19-2009, 10:15 PM
Giles Giles is offline
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This is an odd case. It used to be pronounced /sisester/, but fairly recently the pronunciation changed to follow the spelling. So, if you're in 15th century England, it might be pronounced either way! (I'm not sure when the spelling got fixed and the pronunciation changed away from the spelling).
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Old 09-19-2009, 11:44 PM
Erdosain Erdosain is offline
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Is there a reason that Gloucester, Worcester, and Leicester lost their "ch" but places like Manchester and Dorchester didn't? Are Gloucester and the others older?

[sorry for the hijack, Satyagrahi]
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Old 09-20-2009, 12:57 AM
Deflagration Deflagration is offline
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Having lived there for 30+ years and my family being there for at least 6 generations...

Siren - As in police car.
Sester - As to rhyme with the electric uncle from 'Addams Family'

Locals often contract it to just 'Ciren'.

Anecdotaly, in the past, it was pronounced 'Ziren Zester' although to my Cotswold ears this sounds more Somerset to me.

It's also been pronounced 'Sis-It-Er' in the past but I can't tell you when.

15th century fact:- The Parish church bell tower was built. Originally designed to have a spire but the foundations started to fail during construction. Hence the large and non-architectural flying buttresses.
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:42 AM
Teacake Teacake is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erdosain View Post
Is there a reason that Gloucester, Worcester, and Leicester lost their "ch" but places like Manchester and Dorchester didn't? Are Gloucester and the others older?

[sorry for the hijack, Satyagrahi]
All corruptions from Latin castrum, meaning a fort. Hard to say whether any of them are older than any others, in that despite their modern names coming from the Romans, settlements were probably already there before that. Dorchester, for instance, was the home of the Durotriges tribe, one of the Celtic tribes predating the Romans. Thanks to the tribe, the Romans called their town Durnovaria when they built a fort there. Dur= Dor and castrum=chester. I have no knowledge of why some places ended up with a ch instead of a c at the start of castrum, though if I was asked to guess I might say something about local accents or spelling variations which made it into official language and then filtered back to the people who actually lived there.
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Old 09-20-2009, 03:16 PM
Satyagrahi Satyagrahi is offline
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Many thanks, Giles and Deflagration.

I've seen it noted that Shakespeare referred to the town in one of the historical plays as 'Sisiter'...and that would fit with what you're telling me.

And the fluid spelling of Middle English would make it likely that the name was often spelled phonetically as it was pronounced.

So my task is to balance accuracy with clarity for the modern reader. I'll come up with something.

Thanks again!
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Old 09-20-2009, 04:16 PM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Satyagrahi View Post
So my task is to balance accuracy with clarity for the modern reader. I'll come up with something.
Like relocating the action to Cheltenham.

Not that there should be any doubt about it but, as a resident of Gloucestershire living less than 20 miles from Cirencester, I can confirm that Deflagration's information is bang on.
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