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How should the non-Irish pronounce "Thurles?"


Ireland, 2004 —

In Thurles, pedestrians are curiously blasé about auto-traffic. They seem to have little reservation about walking out into the street — and seem to expect automobiles to yield them the right-of-way.

I've mentioned this to folks, and heard that this is true of County Tipperary in general.

I had to ask a friend how I should pronounce "Thurles." Thurles is the name of the principle town in County Tipperary. The Irish pronounce its name "Turlis."

But I don't pronounce the "th" sound as a "t." I'm not Irish — and I don't affect an Irish pronunciation.

Adaptation to the local tongue always has gray areas. Using terms that people will understand is basic — but matters of accent become more ambiguous. I say "tomahto" because "tomayto" would draw attention and be distractive. But that doesn't mean that I speak with an Irish accent. I don't, and wouldn't want to.

The "t-" sounding "th" is part of the Irish accent. It's not my accent, and for me to speak that way would be an affectation. Imagine an American saying, in all sincerity, "Tank you very much." It would be a little hard to bear.

My friend said it's pronounced "Turlis." That's just the way it's pronounced.

I don't know why, but I think I'd have a problem calling Howth, a town near Dublin, "Howt" [rhymes with "boat."]

But Thurles is "Turlis."


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