Why is Menzies pronounced Mingis?

I was surprised to see in my statistics that a lot of people ended up here looking for an answer to the above question. Why such a difference between the pronunciation and the spelling of Mr Menzies, one of the people hoping to become leader of the Liberal Democrats following Charles Kennedy’s resignation? I thought I might as well give the answer, just to spare eventual visitors more disappointment:

Blame the “yogh”, or yogh, a letter in old English and Scots which has no exact equivalent today. Pronounced "yog&quot, it used to be written a bit like the old copperplate-style “z” with a tail, which helps explain the discrepancy between the spelling of Menzies and the pronunciation.

Read the rest on the BBC magazine (via The Language Legend)

By | 2016-10-18T15:50:37+00:00 January 13th, 2006|Technical corner|3 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Xavier Kreiss January 15, 2006 at 12:53 am

    One of the most interesting bits in the BBC piece is the limerick :
    A lively young damsel named Menzies
    Inquired: “Do you know what this thenzies?”
    Her aunt, with a gasp,
    Replied: “It’s a wasp,
    And you’re holding the end where the stenzies.”
    Not the only limerick to make use of the odd way some British names are pronounced. Remember this one?
    An angry young fellow named Beauchamp
    Cried: “These jars, how on earth shall I reauchamp?
    I’ve asked Mummy and Daddy
    But they will not help me
    No matter how much I beseauchamp.”

  2. Jub January 18, 2006 at 10:51 pm

    I live in Lenzie in central Scotland. Apparently the ancient barony in this area, from which Lenzie got its name in the 1800s, was pronounced “Lingie” in a similar fashion.

  3. Neil Coates January 19, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    A wonderful limerick using the word ‘Beauchamp’. I used to live in a village by the name of Kibworth Beauchamp (pronounced ‘Bee-chum’) I was taught at school that this name came from a French man who was killed near the outskirts of the village many years ago by a stage coach. His name was Henry de Beauchamp. The French translation for ‘Beau-Champ’ is ‘beautiful field’ – The English language is a wonderful thing, it’s borrowed from everywhere!!

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