amblings through the internet

Speak like a Melburnian

How do you pronounce the word reservoir, the dam or water storage facility. Obviously, it’s “res-uh-vwah“, but not if it’s the name of the suburb in Melbourne. That most certainly is pronounced “Res-uh-vorr” as any local will tell you.

There are many suburbs and towns in Melbourne that can trip up a newcomer, some that look rather counter-intuitive, and then some, like the aforementioned Reservoir, that will rile up a local if you get the name wrong.

Here’s the definitive* list of how to pronounce some places in Melbourne (and a few out of Melbourne too).

In the list, pronunciation should be relatively straightforward. I have used standard letters, so some sounds require a special mention.

There are a lot of schwas in Melbourne place names. The letters ih are used to represent a schwa instead of (ə).

The letters “oo” can have several sounds. The sound in “food” is shown as u, (just like in “suit”) while the sound in “book” is shown as oo (like in “soot”).

The sound of a hard “g” like in “go” is hard to represent, especially when the spelling looks like it should be a soft “g”, as in “gel”. In this case, a hard “g” is represented by gh. The word “gift” would be pronounced ghift.

Finally a nasal is represented by n~. This is the sound in the end of the word “ring”.

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first:

Melbourne: mel bihn
While we’re at it, a person from Melbourne is a Melburnian not a Melbournian as per the heading of this post.

Cremorne: crih mawn
Prahran: pih ran
St Kilda: sihn kil da
Toorak: tur rak
Kew: kyu
Malvern: moul vihn
Balaclava: bal uh klah vuh
Caulfield: caw feeld
Nunawading: nun uh wod in~
Ferntree Gully: furntri guh lee (not fern tree)
Doncaster: don cahst uh
Balwyn: ball wihn
Vermont: vurr mont (not vih mont)
Carnegie: Cah neg ee (not carn ih ghee)
Chadstone: chad stihn
Sandringham: san drin~ ham (not san drihn ihm)
Beaumaris: bow morr ihs
Cheltenham: chelt nihm
Mentone: ment own (not men tihn)
Moorabbin: muh rab ihn
Dingley: din~ lee
Westall: wes tall
Keysborough: keez bur uh
Dandenong: dan dee non~
Eumemmering: yu mem mih rin~
Doveton: duv tihn
Narre Warren: nar ree wor ihn
Cranbourne: cran bern
Berwick: ber ick
Bonbeach: bonb eech (not bonn beach)
Carrum: kar ihm
Tooradin: tu ruh dihn
Pakenham: pak ih nuhm
Darebin: dar uh bihn
Reservoir: res uh vorr (not res uh vwah)
Lalor: lay law (not law lah)
Bundoora: bun dur uh
Greensborough: greens bruh or greens bur uh
Roxburgh Park: roks bruh park
South Morang: sowth mih ran~
Maribyrnong: mar ib uh non~
Tottenham: tot ihn ihm
St Albans: sihn awl bihns
Carinlea: cair-n lee
Kealba: kee al bah
Derrimut: derry miht
Gisborne: ghiz bihn
Truganina: truhg a nyn ah (not troog a nina)
Tarneit: tah neet
Wallan: woll ihn
Ballan: bih lan
Geelong: jih lon~
Portarlington: port ah lin~ t!ihn
Stawell: storl

And finally Castlemaine: cass ihl mayn  (absolutely never cah sihl mayn)

*This list is definitive in that it reflects the way locals actually pronounce the place they live.

1 Comment

  1. Pam

    Wow this is impressive.

    My family always have a discussion about this!!!

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