All my life I have wondered why, having grown up in an English speaking country, no one ever knew how to pronounce my very-English last name. It shouldn’t have been that hard. After all, it is just “sud” (pronounced how it looks) and “borough” (as in “small town”). Canadians always nailed it. So why the trouble from my fellow Americans?
First day of every school year was the worst. I got to where I would just preempt the teacher before he/she even tried the typical “sud-bur-ruff” or “sud-borg” or even “studebaker.” Figuring that memory aids would help retention, I’d say,”Sud-burro. Like a soapy donkey.” But inside I would groan at having to turn my identity into an annual joke.
Now, thanks to Bill Bryson’s Made in America: an Informal History of the English Language in the United States, I think I may have solved the mystery. Apparently there was some government board in charge of all place names in the US. A board that decided to chop “ugh” from every “borough” in the land. So the government might be at the root of 15% of my childhood traumas? Figures.