Logoburroo and other place names

If an Australian visitor to the UK asked you for directions to somewhere they called Logoburroo [lɔgɜʉbəˈrʊː] would you know what place they were referring to?

A friend of mine heard an Australian pronouncing Loughborough, a town in Leicestershire in central England, in this way and thought it was an interesting attempt at the name. The usual pronunciation is [ˈlʌfbərə] (luff-buh-ruh) or [ˈlʌfbrə] (luff-bruh).

Loughborough features in the Doomsday Book of 1086 as ‘Lucteburne’, which possibly comes from the name Lehedeburh, “the town of Lehede” (named after someone called Lehede) [source].

Burh is variant form of the Old English word burg (city, town, fort, stronghold, dwelling place), which comes from the Proto-Germanic *burgz (fortification, stronghold, fortified city), from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰərgʰ- (fortified elevation), from *bʰerǵʰ- (to rise; high, lofty; hill, mountain) [source].

Borough, burgh, brough and bury, which all come from the Old English burg, are common elements in English place names, e.g. Loughborough, Canterbury and Middlesbrough; and are also found in Scottish place names as burch and burgh, e.g. Edinburgh and Jedburgh. Related words are also found in Dutch (burcht, burg, borg – castle, borough), French (bourg – market townn), German (burg – castle, fortifcation), and the Scandinavian languages (borg – castle, city).

The Proto-Indo-European root *bʰerǵʰ- (hill) is also the root of the Proto-Celtic word *brixs (hill), from which we get the Brythonic word *brigā, which is part of the name Brigantī, the Celtic tribe that occupied a large part of northern Britain at the time of the Roman invasion (43 AD). The element briga also appears in Gaulish place names; and from the same root is bre, an obsolete word for hill in Welsh, Cornish, Breton and Scottish Gaelic (also bré/brí in Irish).

Hill is usually bryn in Welsh, cnoc in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and torgenn in Breton; and the elements brae/bray/bre appear in some English, Irish and Scottish place names.

Incidentally, Leicestershire is pronounced [ˈlɛstəʃə] (lestuh-shuh).

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This entry was posted in English, Etymology, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases.

12 Responses to Logoburroo and other place names

  1. Rauli says:

    Logoburroo sounds very much like an Australian place name. No wonder they assumed it should be pronounced that way.

    Also cognate with burg are barrow ‘hill, mound’, berg ‘mountain’ (found in English in the word iceberg) and the Latin fortis ‘strong’ whence also the English force.

    May the borough be with you.

  2. Shenn Ghaelgeyr says:

    I went to school there; by way of somewhat snobbish schoolboy humour, we used to mispronounce it as ‘low brow’ [loʊ bræʊ] .

  3. Jayarava says:

    My brother lives in Mooloolabah, near Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. And he goes camping in the Beerburrum Forest.

  4. David Eger says:

    England abounds in placenames and locational surnames that are not pronounced as they’re written: There are numerous ones containing the -cester (Latin castra = camp, fort; ; originally pl. of castrum = defensive building): Leicester, Worcester [‘wʊstə], Gloucester [ˈglɒstə], Towcester [ˈtəʊstə], Rocester[ˈɹəʊstə ], Alcester [‘ɒlstə] or [‘ɔːlstə]… Then there are some more idiosycratic ones, like Barnoldswick [ˈbɑːlɪk], Cholmondeley [ˈtʃʌmlɪ], Featherstonehaugh [‘fænʃɔː], Woolfardisworthy [ˈwʊlzəɹɪ], Pontefract [ˈpɒmfɹɪt] – and no doubt many more I haven’t heard of.

  5. Kevin says:

    Incidentally, Leicestershire is pronounced [ˈlɛstəʃə]

    Or /ˈlɛstəʃɪə/ as I — as a long-time resident of the county — pronounce it. :)

  6. Paul S. says:

    -/ʃɪə/ rather than -/ʃə/ (or even -/ˈʃaɪə/). for “shire” seems to be a real East Midlands thing. It’s definitely /ˈlɪŋkənʃɪə/ in Lincolnshire.

  7. David Eger says:

    “-/ʃɪə/ rather than -/ʃə/ (or even -/ˈʃaɪə/). for “shire” seems to be a real East Midlands thing.”

    I don’t think I’ve heard -/ˈʃaɪə/ from an English person (except when affecting an older form of speech, in folk songs etc.). But the -/aɪ/- pronunciation seems to be the standard in Scotland – /ˈros ʃaɪᵊr/ /ˈperθ ʃaɪᵊr/ /’lan ərk ʃaɪᵊr/ etc.

  8. Lev says:

    What about برج (Burj) in Arabic meaning tower? Is that derived from “burg”, too?

  9. Simon says:

    Lev – according to Wiktionary, برج (burj) is a “borrowing from Classical Syriac ܒܘܪܓܐ (burgāʾ), from Ancient Greek πύργος (purgos) which may be an ancient borrowing from Proto-Germanic *burgz, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰerǵʰ-.”

  10. Ned says:

    In York as a lad a friend of mine was asked how to get to the nearby town of caNAZabaroo by a couple of Americans!

  11. Jaco says:

    In my language ‘berg’ is mountain and hill is ‘heuwel’.

  12. Anthony says:

    Sounds very like the story of the American, a fellow who had studied English place names, who stopped to ask directions to the town from where his ancestors originated. He called out through the open window to a Yorkshireman what sounded like “Where’s Canary’s Burg?”.

    Eventually it became apparent he was looking for Knaresborough.