Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Staunton Is All about You
I live in a little city called Staunton. There are a few legends about why locals refuse to pronounce the "u" in the name of this place. One even says the "u" stands for "Union" and the locals stopped pronouncing it during the Civil War in order to more easily spot Union spies who would unwittingly pronounce the word "Stahnton."
This, of course, is apocryphal at best. Staunton was a pretty major train hub probably filled with spies back then, but it was also a pretty liberal place by those days' standards and was divided about secession and slavery. So, the idea that an entire town would change the pronunciation of their home ignores the enormousness of the effort and coordination such an undertaking would require among people who likely felt very differently about the Union and its spies.
But this is from Wikipedia:
Founded in 1747, it was renamed in honor of Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife to Royal Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Gooch.
What do we know about English-speaking people? They pronounce things differently. When it comes to eponyms and toponyms, they pronounce things wildly differently. I once met people from a town spelled "Belvoir" pronouncing their home "Beaver," and I once read about a man named "Featherstone" who called himself "Fanshaw." And that's why I think Stauntonians don't pronounce the U in Staunton.
Anyway, I made a Tshirt with Staunton on it. Why not reserve one so it gets printed?