London's Talking Buses

Faraway Places With Strange Sounding Names – January 2016
London’s buses talk to you, they say: 91 to . . . Crarch End. They do this shortly before arriving at every bus stop. The dots are to indicate a slight delay in the recorded voice.
London is far from being the first place to have buses and trams that announce the stops, the trams in Germany did this in the 1960s – maybe even before that though I wasn’t there then – and in those days it was the driver that did it, he would say through the address system: ‘Rheinstrasse-Neckarstrasse, für Hauptbahnhof bitte umsteigen’ (Rhein Street-Neckar Street, change here for the main railway station), and it would amuse me to see him do this, even when there was no one other than him on the tram.
But in London you relied upon the passengers’ local knowledge; London buses were not noted for being what you might call customer focused. But that’s all changed now, now the technology has moved on, the driver is not given the opportunity of letting you know that he’s not too sure where he is either, it’s all done by recorded voice. And this raises something of a problem, for London English has an accent all of its own, and to complicate things the way the people of London pronounce words changes over time. (See my Moo Sick pages.)
The voice on all the buses belong to the same lady, Emma Hignett, who obviously has to sound not too posh, but not too incomprehensible either, and they’ve mostly got this right, but some of the places come out sounding odd to the people of old London.
Crarch End (Crouch End) is one of them, and the other is on the number 19 bus which appears to be heading for ‘Badsea Bridge’ (Battersea Bridge). Martin Belam has some more – quite funny, and I agree with him, the pronunciation I would use for Cazenove Road and George Monoux is exactly the same as his (and as regards Monoux, see Monoux Extracts which insists upon the ‘monnux’ pronunciation).
The best route to travel on for intriguing pronunciations is route 55 from Leyton Green to Oxford Circus. This has:
Lea Bridge Rardnabaht (Lea Bridge Roundabout)
Hackney Baths (Baths is pronounced with a short north-English ‘a’, as in naff. In London we say baa-th.)
Queensbridge Road (Stress on the first syllable. In London we never put the stress on Queens, we said it all unstressed like three words. Queens Bridge Road.)
Bunhill Row (We used to say Bunill, not Bun Hill.)
Goswell Road (We say Goswul, not Gos Well)
Red Lion Square (One of the few instances where the voice and the display don’t match. The display says Red Lion Street.)
Route 55 is definitely the one to travel on.
See London iBus 1-50. Well, I spose someone will have done it sooner or later.
Any further references most welcome.


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