Thursday, April 15, 2010

Adventures in Epistemology

"What does it say up there?" said John. "J-e-r-v-o-i-s Quay," he spelt out. "Jervoys Quay?"
"Jervoys Quay?" said Tubby. "I always call it Jarvis Quay."
"Why?" asked John.
"Because I know," said Tubby.

Brookes, Walter, and Peter Campbell. The Waterfront.
Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Print., 1960 p31

Mr Dentith and I have an unresolved dispute about the proper pronunciation of Jervois Road. He says Jervoys, I say Jarvis. I am glad to have the support of Tubby, a fictional watersider in a novel for primary school children from 1960, in this matter.

But then again, perhaps it is a Wellington thing. After all, the Wellingtonians know how to pronounce Marjoribanks and Beauchamp, whilst Aucklanders have difficulty with Wellesley. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps the debased pronunciation, Jervoys, is correct for Auckland. On the other hand, like Tubby I know that Jarvis is correct.

On another matter, this is how the novel begins:
Moving in! Jennifer and John Hammond rushed excitedly ahead of their parents through the gate of the house they were going to live in Thorndon, not far from the Wellington Railway Station. It was a hot, clear day in the middle of January, just right for getting to know a new place. Since a week before Christmas, when their father, an engine driver, had been transferred from Christchurch to Wellington, they had been staying with their cousins, Jim and Alex, who were older and went to Wellington College.
Fancy that: working-class people living in Thorndon. Those were the days.


Robyn said...

When I learned that the street in Auckland was pronounced Jervoys and not Zhervwah (I was about 14), I felt like I'd become the recipient of some secret Auckland knowledge.

But here's a difference - Grafton Rd in Auckland is pronounced with a long A, Grafton Rd in Wellington has a short A.

Stacktwo said...

Sorry - according to Daniel Jones' English Pronouncing Dictionary, which is the standard reference for things like this, all of these pronunciations of Jervois are wrong.

Jervois is pronounced simply "Jervis".

Paul said...

Stacktwo: Where I come from - a pre-War public school novel - Jervis is pronounced Jarvis.

Robyn, that is peculiar. The short a sound suggests Northern England or Scotland to me.

Stephen Stratford said...

And I say Rue Zhervwah. Because I can.

Trouble said...

Bryce Courtenay's Tommo and Hawk refers briefly to the slums of Thorndon in the 1860s or so.

My French teacher liked Auckland's Point SheVALiay, until he found out the locals pronounced it ShevaLEER.

Anonymous said...

Rather like Chch's Antigyouah Street (My first attempt at coming across it was the vaguely spanish Spanish Anteegwah - met with widespread bafflement and contempt)

Grace Dalley said...

Not to mention Barbadoes St with the silent "e"!

It always bugged me that Auckland has the suburb of AVIN-dale, whereas Chch has A-von-dale. They can't both be right, surely. :-)

Samuel said...

Perhaps the very late stages of Point Chevalier's gentrification will finally see its name pronounced as a French teacher might like. Although I dread to think of the sheer acreage of beige McMansions it will have to accumulate to get to that milestone.