Within the lyric of George and Ira Gerswin’s song Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off, the topic of differences in word pronunciation rear their ugly head. An affianced couple’s confrontation levels on correct annunciation of words, such as potato and tomato, at one point leading to suggestions of relationship annulment.
Yesterday, whilst in the company of scores of my Scottish clan folk, thoughts of this 1920’s refrain manifested within yours truly’s capricious mind. These notions a consequence of a seemingly 50/50 tribal split in pronunciation of the surname Strachan. Around half relaying the word as ‘Strawn’, the remainder (myself included) relaying the word with the more guttural sound of ‘Strakan’.
Like tomato or tomata, neither version is wrong. There’s no ancient clan edict laying down a definitively correct verbal inflection. Even Clan Commander Rob Strachan wisely staying clear of this accentuation conundrum; taking a diplomatic stance of not offering guidance to his tribe, despite utilising version ‘Strawn’ himself. Welcoming his clan folk whether they’re potato or potata.
Strawn also the pronunciation used by locals when referring to their village. That being said, road signs welcoming people to the area three miles west of Banchory don’t guide the uninitiated into whether annunciation should be with the ‘w’ or guttural ‘k’. The greeting boards sitting on the fence (well, metal poles), sensibly avoiding any involvement in this moniker mayhem.
As much as it would amuse 50% of my clan, there’s no welcome sign advising visitors ‘WELCOME TO STRACHAN! – INCIDENTALLY, IT’S PRONOUNCED STRAWN; ANYONE USING THE ALTERNATIVE VERSION CAN GET OUT NOW!!….. OH, AND CAN YOU ALSO STOP YOUR DOG PEEING ON MY POSTS!!’
Perhaps, STV could solve the Strachan naming conundrum by introducing a reality TV show called Name That Clan. A broadcast where host Nicky Campbell encourages viewers to “Dial 1 for pronunciation of Strawn….. Dial 2 for Strakan…… Dial 3 for Stratchan….. Dial 4 for Straken…… and, Dial 5 if they’re only viewing while waiting for Coronation Street to start!!”
For those who’ve not read my narrative Fauchelt Efter Road Trip earlier in the week, I’m currently in the middle of a five night stay in the village of Strachan. My presence in Aberdeenshire to attend a gathering arranged for my Scottish clan/kin/tribe (delete where applicable – If you want to anyhow!!….. If you don’t it’s no big deal…… Incidentally, have you any idea Coronation Street starts tonight?)
Last night saw the Clan Commander’s Dinner in a hotel in nearby Banchory. An evening where I got to engage with several clansman/kinsman/tribesman (delete where applicable – If you want to anyhow!!….. If you don’t it’s no big deal…… Incidentally, have you any idea what time Name That Clan starts tonight?)
It was a pleasant evening in engaging company, during which I learned many things about the Strachan/Strawn (along with other slight name variations) name*** and village history. Clan committee leaders and their families have put a great deal of effort into organising six days of events for individuals who’ve flown from all over the globe to collectively visit their motherland.
*** Although the definitive surname pronunciation remains an enigma!!
Anyhow, they say Strawn and we say Strachan, but there’s absolutely no intention of calling the whole thing off!!