Jo (the native English speaker): Both for the title, Loretta? They are considered alternate spellings of the title Marquis/Marquess, but pronounced the same. A marquis, markee, is the French version or a tent. In my universe, at least!
Loretta: OED has marquis as mar kwis, marquess as mar kwes. For the title--both for the same definition. I'm translating phonetically because I can't make the funny little symbols.
Jo: True, but in effect it's so subtle as to be hardly noticeable. They say that
they standardized on marquess because so many people were pronouncing
marquis as markee. That's what I was talking about.
Pat: I'm trying to do research so I'm easily distractible, and it just suddenly
occurred to me why Americans have this differentiation. Besides the fact
that I prefer the sound of mar kee (sorry, Jo <G>) and markwis makes me
shudder, I think we have different enuciations. I say mar KEE and mar
KES (that hard "qu" thing is hard to beat back), which is why the difference is not subtle to the American ear. It's painful.
If I'm not mistaken, Jo, you say MAR kwes, which alleviates the pain
considerably and does make the whole more subtle.
Loretta: Understood. The trouble is, most American readers are going to read "marquis" as "markee." If they look in an American dictionary, they get a choice of "markee" or "markwess" or "markwiss." That's why I use marquess, at any rate. I'm an
American, too, and my first instinct is to pronounce "marquis" as "markee."
I really have to think about it, to change to British pronunciation. For
an American, saying "markee" is as natural as pronouncing "vitamin" with a
long i first syllable or "herb" without the "h."
Jo shudders: Though I have switched to aluminum rather than aluminium. When
the spelling is different, it's irresistible. Pat, markwiss and markwess sound
howlingly different to you?
Of course I have the people who love my Company of Rouges.
Loretta: Viscount is another tricky one for readers. Many people read it "viss-count". I've never figured out how to clarify the pronunciation, so I mention it on my website in one of my Random Notes.
Jo: Want to talk about buoy?
Pat: Nope. I've been permanently confused ever since we moved to KY and learned
"pen" and "pin" were the exact opposite of what I'd learned. I'm not
touching anything more complicated. <G> I'm amazed any of us can understand each other
Edith: My first book (a regency) had a character who was a markee, spelled:
My second book had the same character as hero. And the title was: "The
Then sometime later, I got the new official word. No more Marquis. They
had to be "Marquess."
So I said what about the Marquis of my first two books? What if I bring him
back for a cameo?
The word was MARQUESS.
Which just sounds wussy to me.
So I wrote about Dukes, and Earls, and Viscounts.
I always get the English pronounciations wrong. The hero of said first book
was the Duke of Torquay, which in my ignorance, I thought was pronounced:
Imagine my horror later, to hear an English friend pronounce it: "Torkee" -
which made it sound like "Turkey."
I visited it next time I went to England. Nice town, awful name... that is,
Mary Jo: LOL! I swear the Brits deliberate warp their pronounciation in order to
make foreigners feel like idjits. <g> When I lived there, I learned that
swallowing syllables was a good start to sounding British. <g>
JO: LOL! It happens everywhere. In The Rogue's Return, I had to use a real and
famous character as he was the C of E minister in York at the time, Reverend
Strachan. I was talking to a friend who's expert in Canadian history and she
gently said, "Straun, Jo. Straun."
I haven't yet had to say the name to anyone else, but I'm glad to know!
Maybe that's the English pronounciation? I know it's sometimes spelled
"Strawn, Straun," but it's all under Clan Strachan. It's a Scottish Gaelic
name, and in Scotland, where it's both a place and a surname, it's usually
"Strakhan" -- the "ch" as in "loch." I've heard it said there myself. In
SK: Gaelic, a "ch" with an "a" before and/or after has the "ch" pronounced. So
Strachan has two syllables. It's subtle, a soft airy "ch" and on to the
But in England, I don't know, it may be different there, and Canada as well.
So Jo, you were probably right in your original pronunciation, particularly
given an 18th c. setting. Unless Rev. Strachan's family had been in England
for a long while, or were Lowlanders by then.
Jo: Right, Susan. Strachan is correct. I was even using the softer loch
pronunciation. I haven't been able to find out why it's Straun, but it
probably was originally more like Strawch'n and drifted from there.
Then there's Goethe. I went through one university course reading about
Go-eth and wondering when I'd get to this gerte guy was the lecturer kept referring
SK: LOL! Or in art history, there's Van Hhhhhhhoocchhhhhhh. With lots of
spit. Otherwise known as Vincent.
Re Strachan, I was just consulting the peerage pronunciation and it give
Strachan as Straun, so perhaps it's the aristocratic usage. Not that I'm
sure the future Bishop Strachan was aristocratic, but he might have upgraded the
pronunciation when he moved to the New World,
Darius and Cynric. Given the variety in pronunciation, we can choose the way
it's said and then try to make it clear, but I often assume people know how to
pronounce a name when they don't. I've had people ask how to pronounce
Malloren. I can't imagine stressing the middle syllable, but
clearly some people can. And I assumed everyone would know how to pronounce
de Vaux. But then, sometimes Vaux is pronounced Vox.
I wonder if any of you wenchlings have stumbled over in name pronunciation, and
how it can affect youl enjoyment of a book. Come to think of it, most Dorothy
Dunnett readers seem to have pronounced Lymond Li-mond until they heard her and
found out it was Lie-mond. That took a bit of adjusting to, even though Lie-
mond is rational. I'd been reading and re-reading for years before I realized
that Buccleuch was B'clue. My enjoyment survived
Q: "How do you pronounce Maturin?"
A: "It is pronounced Maturin."
Yeah, yeah, so the joke's on me......