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Irish Surname Pronunciation ... Mahon and variations

  • #2
    Registered Users Posts: 290 ✭✭ bipedalhumanoid


    I knew an Aussie by the name of Mahoney. When the Australian Mahoney's meet new people, they like to explain how the name should be pronounced. The story begins with a chuckle at the Americans who mispronounce it (police academy style) and then go on to point out the correct pronunciation is.... Marny, or perhaps Mahny, since in an Australian accent, so the r is not strongly pronounced... but 2 syllables in any case.

    Pretty much every Mahoney, Mahon, O'Mahoney... or whatever other variations exist, use this pronunciation. You see it in athletes, company names etc.

    In 20 years living in Ireland I've lived through the Mahon tribunal and have met scores of people with these names and none of them pronounce it the way these Irish Australians insist is the correct way.

    Is there a region of Ireland that does use the Australian Mahoney pronunciation or was there ever a time whenbit was used here?

    I get why the Americans pronounce it differently. Many are aware they do. But the Aussies don't seem to be aware their pronunciation differs from ours.

    I'm very curious to understand how this has come about. Presumably some of them have come over for a visit at some point...


Comments

  • #2


    Australian English often drops the 'h' sound when it occurs in the middle of a word, so "Mahon" becomes something like "Ma'on".

    Australian English also favours long 'a's - so where we would use the short 'a' sound that you get in "gather", Australians would tend to substitute the long 'a' sound from "father".

    So, make those two changes to the Irish pronunciation of "Mahon"/"Mahoney" and you get the Australian pronunciation.

    This is different to what is going on the US with "Mahoney" - Americans are looking at the spelling of the name and coming up with "Ma-HONE-ey", along the lines of "baloney", "Moroney", etc. (Note that they don't do this for "Mahon". But they do do it for e.g. Italian names like "Campanati", which in the US is often pronounced "Campan-EIGHTY") Australians are hearing how the Irish pronounce the name and are repeating it, but with Australian speech characteristics.


  • #2


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Australian English often drops the 'h' sound when it occurs in the middle of a word, so "Mahon" becomes something like "Ma'on".

    Do we? I can't think of any other examples where we treat an h as silent in situations where the Irish wouldn't... or any other examples of words where an entire syllable is dropped. Do you happen to have any?


  • #2


    Do we? I can't think of any other examples where we treat an h as silent in situations where the Irish wouldn't... or any other examples of words where an entire syllable is dropped. Do you happen to have any?
    This isn't an example of a word in which an entire syllable is dropped - Australian "Mahon" is two syllables, like Irish "Mahon". It's just that the central 'h' is unvoiced, or it's voiced in a much "breathier" way, which to an Irish ear sounds close to being unvoiced.

    I can't off-hand think of another word with a central 'h', but Australian English often elides initial 'h' - think how Kath and Kim are parodied as saying "yuge" instead of "huge". And other central consonants are often blurred - in informal speech "medal" and "metal" can be homophones, as can "pedal" and "petal".


  • #2


    I have known two different families with the name Mahon. One woman would introduce herself as 'Mary Mann', and a man from the other family would introduce himself as 'John Mahon' pronounced Mah-hin. Both spelled it the same. Just a piece of useless information but thought I'd mention it.


  • #2


    I have known two different families with the name Mahon. One woman would introduce herself as 'Mary Mann', and a man from the other family would introduce himself as 'John Mahon' pronounced Mah-hin. Both spelled it the same. Just a piece of useless information but thought I'd mention it.

    Was the latter pronunciation like the Australian accent here:
    https://youtu.be/G7EewHDiELo


  • #2


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Australian English often drops the 'h' sound when it occurs in the middle of a word, so "Mahon" becomes something like "Ma'on".

    Australian English also favours long 'a's - so where we would use the short 'a' sound that you get in "gather", Australians would tend to substitute the long 'a' sound from "father".

    So, make those two changes to the Irish pronunciation of "Mahon"/"Mahoney" and you get the Australian pronunciation.

    This is different to what is going on the US with "Mahoney" - Americans are looking at the spelling of the name and coming up with "Ma-HONE-ey", along the lines of "baloney", "Moroney", etc. (Note that they don't do this for "Mahon". But they do do it for e.g. Italian names like "Campanati", which in the US is often pronounced "Campan-EIGHTY") Australians are hearing how the Irish pronounce the name and are repeating it, but with Australian speech characteristics.
    Went to school with an Irish lad called Mahoney, [Mahony?], and that's how I pronounced the name - "Ma-hone-ey".
    How should I have pronounced it?


  • #2


    stress should be on the first syllable, not the middle one.
    MAH-honey


  • #2


    I also know someone Irish who pronounces it without the h. They'd be of a landed gentry rural background.


  • #2


    Was the latter pronunciation like the Australian accent here:
    https://youtu.be/G7EewHDiELo


    Yes, pretty close to the Australian but the 'hon' was more like 'hin'. Stress was on the first syllable.


  • #2


    Many Irish name s feature a "h" that over time has become largely silent.
    McMahon is generally pronounced "Mcmann".
    Maher is also commonly pronounced "Mar".
    Maher and its spelling variant Meagher derive from O'Meachair, in which the "h" sound would have originally been pronounced.
    In the case of Meagher, the worst pronunciation I heard was by an architectural student in Trinity college one open house weekend, who said "Meagre" for the eminent architectural firm of de Blacam & Meagher. I was truly disgusted.


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