Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Great War Phonetics
from Kimball Worcester;
Today's Lesson: WYTSCHAETE

World War I has left us some real tongue twisters. We have called on our assistant editor, Kimball Worcester, for help with the pronunciations of some of our favorite places, things, and personalities of the war. 

There Was Not Much Left of Wytschaete by 1918

Sometimes, one needs to return to contemporary sources for help. Our first entry is the name of a little village, south of Ypres, that found itself on the front line in 1914 and again during the Messines mining operation of June 1917. Luckily we found this news entry from an unnamed war correspondent of the day. KW

Referring to Wytschaete, captured by the British recently, a writer in the "Evening Standard" says: A Flemish correspondent kindly supplies me with a phonetic aid to the pronunciation, which I gladly pass on to my readers. In Flemish the name is rendered as if it were "White's Shat" ("a" as in father.) In French the word is pronounced "With's Cat." The name Wytschaete is derived from "Wide-Schoote," a word which means "longshot." ' Never in its history, I suspect, has the place so fully justified its name as it is doing in these days. Our Tommies call Wytschaete "White sheet."

From NZ Truth, 27 October 1917

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