Althorp, Northamptonshire, England

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The approaching tenth anniversary of Diana, Princess of Wales’s death brings Althorp back into the news. This is where she grew up, and where she is buried. The BBC first became aware of the difficulty about pronunciation well before the Second World War – Broadcast English II, published in 1930, included it, with the pronunciation áwltrŏp. Later, in about 1952, the Pronunciation Assistant, G.M. “Elizabeth” Miller, wrote to the then Viscount Althorp (Diana’s father) about it, and was told the same thing. I, as Pronunciation Adviser, wrote to the present Earl Spencer (Diana’s brother) in 1992, and in January the following year, he wrote back saying “áwltrŏp. This is definitely correct. I can remember my grandfather pronouncing it like this; my octogenarian great-aunt does, too – and it is clear that alternative pronunciations only came about recently, out of laziness (it became simpler not to correct the many who mispronounce it – the majority of whom were foreign visitors to the house.)” See here for more on the argument. He included the same pronunciation in his history of Althorp

However, some time after this, he succumbed to the pressure, and put out a press statement saying that henceforth the house should be called ‘áwlthorp’ – as spelt.

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  1. Pingback: More on BBC Pronunciation - Linguism

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